I read Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner, the first in this series featuring (then DS, now DI) Manon Bradshaw last year – although I didn’t know (more in the series would follow) at that time. Looking back on my review I certainly took to Manon, who I described as a ‘no nonsense’ sort of person. Which remains the case in her second outing.
by Susie Steiner
Series: DS Manon #2
on June 29th 2017
Source: Harper Collins
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
Detective Manon Bradshaw is five months pregnant and has officially given up on finding romantic love. Instead, she is in hot-pursuit of work-life balance and parked in a cold case corridor—the price she’s had to pay for a transfer back to Cambridgeshire.
This is fine, she tells herself. She can devote herself to bringing up her two children—the new baby, and her adopted 12-year-old son Fly Dent.
He needed a fresh start—he was being forever stopped and searched in London by officers who couldn’t see past the color of his skin. Manon feared Fly, increasingly sullen and adolescent, was getting in with the wrong crowd at school, or possibly that he was the wrong crowd. Being there for the children, and home by five, is what Manon tells herself she needs.
Yet when a wealthy victim is found stabbed close to police HQ, she can’t help but sidle in on the briefing: he is a banker from London, worth millions. More dramatically, he was also Manon’s sister Ellie’s ex, and the father of her toddler son. The investigation swirls with greater and greater urgency, and as it begins to circle in on Manon’s home and her family, she finds herself pitted against the former colleagues she once held dear—Davy Walker and Harriet Harper.
Manon however, had less of an impact on me this time around and seemed quite changed from the character in Missing, Presumed. Then she was exceedingly ambitious, indeed impressive professionally, though her private life was a tad fraught and she was incredibly desperate to meet someone, settle down and have a child. I noted at the time I could relate to the ticking clock scenario and loved the honesty with which Steiner portrayed the 40ish year old.
Manon is caring for a young boy she met (presumably in the first novel, though I didn’t remember that level of detail) and pregnant this time around and about six months or more have passed since she moved out of London to Cambridgeshire. She’s living with her sister and nephew and they’re kinda getting by when there’s a murder too close to home.
We’re privy to the victim’s sinister ‘other’ life but the police aren’t – at least not entirely – and for reasons I never really understood, Manon’s young black foster / adopted son, Fly, is arrested for the murder. The evidence is circumstantial but 12yr old Fly – seemingly a good kid – seems to have secrets and Manon isn’t quite as supportive (initially) as I would have expected her to be.
I must admit to being a bit affronted on Fly’s behalf.. how quickly he’s railroaded into custody and detention and the ease with which the adults around him allow it to happen. I was vaguely reminded of the fact that love interests – who play a starring / integral role in a novel – are occasionally written out of the next book in the series so the author can introduce a new ‘will they / won’t they?’ scenario. Fortunately it’s usually so long between releases I’m not as engaged with the peripheral characters as I might otherwise be, but when I’m playing catch-up and reading book after book in a series, it can be a bit disconcerting.
Anyway… that’s what it felt like here and if I’d better remembered Fly from the earlier book in this series (if indeed he was in it) I was be rather grumpy.
However… Steiner does introduce some interesting twists. There’s a related storyline unfolding for we readers while Manon’s colleagues investigate the murder on their patch, so we see pieces starting to fit together before they do.
The timing felt like it jumped around for me a little throughout the novel. As the narrative is told from several points of view I wasn’t quite sure what was happening when and whether we were in the same time period or jumping forward or back several months. One of our key characters was killed off, for example and I almost missed that it’d happened because of the way the plot moved. And there’s a twist at the end that will frustrate those of us who crave justice. Or karma or something.
This is an enjoyable read however and I’m assuming Steiner’s planning to continue the series though suspect there will – again – be some significant changes in Manon’s next outing.
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner was published in Australia by Harper Collins and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.