Missing is the first book that I have read by Susan Lewis. It is a bit of a long read at almost 600 pages but it does tell an absorbing tale that is worth reading and certainly kept me wanting to know how it was all going to turn out in the end though. The only problem though, is that with so many pages, it took me longer than usual to read and at times I found it hard to keep up with the different storylines! Having said that though it is a good book to read and I did enjoy reading it!
The cover of the book is a little misleading as it shows the picture of a small cherubic looking boy which leads you to expect that this novel tells the story of a missing boy which it sort of does. However, the character who has gone missing is Jacqueline Avery who is dropped off at Exeter St Davids Station by her husband one day and apparently vanishes into thin air. When she is reported missing there is a huge police hunt, a lot of people are upset and the finger of suspicion is pointed at a couple of the characters. The main storyline then follows the impact that Jacqueline's disappearance has on her close family and other acquaintances as well as partially piecing together what has happened.
Little by little, Susan Lewis reveals little snippets of information to her reader. We soon learn that Jacqueline's one year old son Sam was taken from her car fifteen years ago and is still missing. We also learn that this has had a profound effect on her and her relationships - particularly with her daughter Kelsey who she is too afraid to love and with her husband Miles who she is afraid to let go even though their marriage is dead. We also discover that they did separate for a couple of years but when Jacqueline discovered that Miles was having a relationship with Vivienne (a successful PR person) she came back and threatened to kill herself and Kelsey is the relationship did not end. So as you can see Jacqueline is a very unhinged character which is why everyone is so nervous about what she might do while she is missing. Miles is particularly worried after he discovers that a year before Vivienne gave birth to a son he knew nothing about. He fears that Jacqueline will think that Miles sees the baby as a replacement for Sam which is likely to upset her any more.
It is quite a heavy read in places and it is very sad to read about the devastating effect that Sam's disappearance has had on all of their lives. As a mother I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a child that way and to never know from one day to the next what happened. It also brought to mind the still recent case of Madeline McCann with which there were many parallels. There were moments in the book where I surprisingly found myself very close to tears.
There is a much lighter storyline that weaves its way through as well though and this is a much welcomed breath of fresh air. Vivienne is organising a charity auction for a local woman who needs an operation and all the local fire brigade offer themselves up as slaves to be bid for. It is a lot of fun reading about all the plans and organisation until the auction comes to fruition.
There is also the hunt for Jacqueline that occurs throughout the book and for this we are introduced to a couple of interesting police officers who bring another dimension to the story particularly as they often play out the 'good cop bad cop' scenario. I found all the characters believable and you could not help feeling for some of them because of what they were going through. Other characters were a bit seedier though and I did not feel for them at all!
Overall this was a good read with a lot of things going on. I liked the different levels of storytelling - at one moment you could be crying and the next in tears. It is also written in such a way that piques your interest and makes you want to stay with it to find out what does happen and if Jacqueline is ever found (which of course I am not going to say!) The book is a little too long for my preference mainly because I can never find enough time to read and therefore it takes too long. I am not sure how long her other novels are but if they are a similar length that will probably put me off even though I did enjoy reading Missing.
Missing is published by Arrow Books and the paperback has a RRP of £6.99 - which is good value for all those pages!