Monday, February 08, 2016

Missing, Presumed review – lonely detective seeks EM Forster fan…

The bridge at Clare College, Cambridge

The bridge at Clare College, Cambridge, where Susie Steiner’s victim Edith Hind is a postgraduate student. Photograph: Alamy
Susie Steiner has a real knack, sometimes missing in police procedurals, for shading in the throwaway details about a character that turn them from two-dimensional into three. Whether it’s her police protagonist, DS Manon Bradshaw, a single 39-year-old who listens to her police radio to help drown out the loneliness while she goes to sleep, or the story’s victim, 24-year-old Edith Hind, an earnest Cambridge postgrad whose PhD is on the fight against the patriarchy in Victorian literature, she breathes life into them all.

Missing, Presumed, Steiner’s second novel after the more literary Homecoming, is told from differing perspectives, all jigsawing together to make a whole. Manon scrambles out of bed after another disappointing one-night stand (he talks about newts and splits the bill to the last penny), and rushes to the scene when she hears about a missing female in Huntingdon. It’s the case she’s been waiting for. Miriam, scraping out the remains of monkfish stew from her Le Creuset in Hampstead, is pondering the aloneness of married life when she and her husband learn their daughter Edith is missing.

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