(2016), a crime thriller by Susie Steiner, centers on a detective searching for a missing woman in deep winter. The first book in the DS Manon
series, it received nominations for the 2017 Barry Award and the 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Steiner is a crime writer with a degree in English who worked as a journalist for twenty years. Registered as fully blind after losing her sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa, she writes extensively on her experiences. Missing, Presumed
is her second novel.Missing, Presumed
is set in Cambridge, England, in mid-December. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw is a thirty-nine-year-old single woman, whose job is her priority. She has no children, and she has never been married. Now that she is almost forty, Manon regrets being single. Although she goes on many dates, they never lead anywhere. Lonely, she would like to meet someone great.
As the book begins, Manon returns home from yet another bad date. She turns her phone off because she can’t deal with anymore internet dating notifications. Just as she drifts off to sleep, her police radio lights up. A woman is missing and there are signs of a struggle at her flat. Manon gets dressed and heads down to the station. Her work always distracts her from worrying about her relationship woes.
At the police station, the other officers bring Manon up to speed. The missing woman is Edith Hind who comes from a wealthy family and studies at Cambridge University. Her boyfriend arrived at her flat and found the door ajar. Noticing blood on the kitchen floor, he immediately called the police.
Edith left her keys and phone behind, which isn’t a good sign. Her boyfriend is sure that someone abducted her. Agreeing, Manon knows that the first seventy-two hours are critical. The more time that passes, the more likely it is they will find a dead body or never find Edith at all. As if the squad needs any more pressure, Edith’s father, the chief physician to the Royal Family, demands the police give extra attention to his daughter’s case.
First, Manon wants to learn everything she can about the crime scene. To begin, she orders an investigation into Edith’s mobile phone. She wants to know when Edith last spoke on the phone, texted anyone, or posted on social media. She must also interview Edith’s boyfriend because he was the first person on the crime scene. After speaking with him, Edith is convinced that he knows more than he lets on.
The time of year doesn’t help matters, either. It is the week before Christmas, and so, many officers are on vacation. Although Edith’s case takes up most of Manon’s time, a new case arrives. The dead body of a teenage boy, Taylor, is found in a nearby river; it looks like murder. Manon wonders if Taylor’s case is connected to Edith’s somehow.
In the meantime, Edith’s father grows frantic. He can’t understand what’s taking the police so long. He tells the media about Edith’s disappearance. Manon must field daily questions and interrogations from the media, especially when they find out about Taylor, too. With no leads, Manon presses Edith’s best friend, Helena, and Edith’s boyfriend for information, but she soon realizes that they don’t know anything. The case goes cold.
Meanwhile, Manon goes on another string of bad dates. She knows that she should focus on Edith’s disappearance and Taylor’s suspected murder, but she is consumed by her own loneliness. Not able to face turning forty without a partner, she’s doing all she can to find love before it’s too late. Her dating obsession means that she misses a vital telephone call with information about Edith’s disappearance. As she plays the message back, she knows she must dedicate her attention to Edith until she is found, dead or alive.
Soon after the telephone call, there is a break in Taylor’s case. Manon discovers that Edith’s father was sleeping with Taylor. Secretly gay, he was terrified that someone would find out. In exchange for sex, Taylor demanded that he look after Taylor’s ten-year-old chronically ill brother. Before long, Edith’s father tired of this arrangement.
After giving the dilemma some thought, Edith’s father decided to drug Taylor and dump him in the woods. He didn’t plan to kill Taylor; he merely planned to give him a fright so he would go away. Unfortunately, Edith found Taylor’s unconscious body and assumed he was dead. She fled because she couldn’t deal with the drama of finding out that her father is a murderer. Edith’s mother eventually tracks her down and brings her home. The family must face their difficulties together.