“ Author: Karen Rose / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 31 January 2013 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Subcategory: Thriller / Suspense General / Publisher: Headline Publishing Group / Title: Did You Miss Me? / ISBN 13: 9780755374007 / ISBN 10: 0755374007 „
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I was quite excited when I came across this as I'd recently read another Karen Rose and knew this was a newer one. I'd consider myself a fan of her crime thrillers and I wasn't disappointed by Did You Miss Me?; gripping, engaging and with warm characters that you want to keep reading about.
This falls in to the crime thriller genre and Rose is definitely up there as one of the must-read authors. On the cover we're told this is a 'Sunday Times Top Ten', along with the tag line 'Best be nimble, best be quick, I'm right here and you're my pick', to draw us in. This is a newer novel and so for those that have read previous Rose novels you'll probably know some of the characters and their relationships. For those unfamiliar with her books it won't matter as it's still a standalone novel, but the continuity and familiarity is a little bonus.
We're introduced to Daphne Montgomery, Assistant State's Attorney, dealing with the prosecution of a young man accused for murder. The Millhouse family are outraged that their son is being sentenced and the story causes a media frenzy, so Daphne isn't in their good books. But she's got more to deal with than just that when she gets news that her son is missing. She hired a bodyguard to look out for him what with the somewhat dangerous position she's in, but when the bodyguard turns up dead and her son, Ford Elkhart and his girlfriend Kim don't return from their trip to the cinema, things don't sound positive.
Enter FBI Special Agent Joseph Carter, assigned to the case and with a little personal motivation to help find Ford given his romantic feelings for Daphne. Could it be that the Millhouse clan have taken Ford in some kind of blackmail scheme? Or is there more at play here than meets the eye? As the story develops, we see different perspectives and character histories, such as that of Daphne's, and we begin to see new pictures emerge. With that we get new potential explanations and various suspects, so the confusion begins to mount as time ticks away. I won't say any more on the premise but I couldn't guess what was happening, and the fact that it wasn't predictable is a good thing.
As for the premise itself, it's different in the sense that she makes it her own. It has the elements of suspense, mystery because we don't know what's truly going on and intrigue because we want to learn the truth. She also adds side-story elements to break things up, such as by character histories and relationships. The latter is the only thing I find a little on the off-putting side. As per previous Rose novels, she introduces a romance, this one between the two protagonists (as was the case in the last novel I read). However, there's also another love sidestory for two other characters, and that's quite a lot of loving for one crime book! I personally find the stuff a little too mushy in a love-at-first-sight kind of way; when her son's missing and no one's sure if he's dead or alive, Daphne's busy worrying about that whilst falling in love. Apparently. It was still done well in more of a believable way than it could have been with another author, so it wasn't too sickly sweet to read. It still didn't spoil my enjoyment of the novel, though I did find it a little too much at times. It's also rather graphic in a 50 Shades sort of way, which isn't my thing, though it did liven things up a bit and provide a change of pace!
What I love about Rose novels is her engaging writing style that draws you in and wraps around you like a snuggly blanket. I'm sure I'm not the only one that gets that feeling with a good book. It just absorbs you and you want to keep turning the pages. She creates her characters with depth so that by the end of it most key characters, especially Daphne and Joseph who take the lead, are clear in our minds. For instance, we meet Clay Maynard, Stevie Mazzetti, JD, Paige & Grayson (Joseph's non-biological brother). I loved reading about them and my familiarity was a little bonus. By providing character history we get to know more about them and that makes it easier to understand their motives and empathise, and likewise she creates relationships with a similar appeal. The web of characters in Did You Miss Me? is quite extensive, including various that I recognised from other novels and more, so there's quite a bit to keep up with. She manages it well, keeping us in the loop and not overly confusing us, and the strength of character image means it's easier to remember who's who.
There's further praise on the back for Rose in general, including 'Rose juggles a large cast, a huge body count and a complex plot with terrifying ease' - Publishers Weekly, and 'A blend of hard-edged police procedural and romance... more shockingly detailed than anything Karin Slaughter or Patricia Cornwell's thrillers... engaging' - Irish Independent. I would agree with these statements because she really does draw together a fairly complex plot due to the amount of characters, histories and suspects whilst still keeping it engaging and down-to-earth in a fairly believable way.
Overall, this is one I would recommend for its readability, depth of characters, intrigue, mystery and suspense. I did, however, find the romance aspects a little too much so be prepared to wonder whether you're reading a crime thriller or a soft porn book.
Hardback RRP £16.99, 534 pages over 28 chapters