Missing by Jane Casey
Ebury, ISBN 978-0091935993
January 1, 2010, 496 pages
Jenny Shepherd is twelve years old and missing...When he was twelve years old, her brother went missing.
Her teacher, Sarah Finch, knows better than most that the chances of finding her alive are diminishing with every day she is gone. As a little girl her older brother had gone out to play one day and never returned. The strain of never knowing what has happened to Charlie had ripped Sarah's family apart.
Now in her early twenties, she is back living at home, trapped with a mother who drinks too much and keeps her brother's bedroom as a shrine to his memory. Then, horrifically, it is Sarah who finds Jenny's body, beaten and abandoned in the woods near her home. As she's drawn into the police investigation and the heart of a media storm, Sarah's presence arouses suspicion too. But it not just the police who are watching her...
Now, years later, a little girl, also 12 years old, goes missing. And Sarah knew the girl, in fact was one of her teachers at a private girl's school. She lives just a few minutes walk from the girl's family, in the same development. And then she is the one to find the girl's body in the woods the police had already searched. Gosh, it all sounds like just too much of a coincidence, doesn't it. And in lesser hands it might have read that way but Casey presents it all in a way that acknowledges all this and makes it sounds believable. This was Casey's debut novel and a few weaknesses show that but not enough to keep this from being a quite enjoyable read. It is fast paced, compelling you to read just a little more, making it a fast, if slightly long read.
And Sarah is a good character, even if she does fall prey to one of my most dreaded flaws...the characters who is 'doing stupid things'. A murderer is on the loose. You get mugged, all you ID and keys stolen. Perhaps you should tell the cops. It might be connected...nah! Just put that foundation of the bruise and limp on...because it is the stupid thing to do. And the whole thing with her car...you will know what I mean if you read it...made no sense. Sadly, there were a few incidents like this. Happily there was an interesting enough plot and some good characters, including Sarah and the delightful Andy Blake to allow you to ignore these flaws.
I read and very much liked another of Casey's books, The Burning, a couple of months ago. While I think it was an even better book than this one, Missing is still a well written, clever and entertaining mystery.