Thursday, June 29, 2017

Now the shortest distance seems so long: PERSONS UNKNOWN.

Persons Unknown (DS Manon, #2)Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As we return to Steiner's series, we find Manon Bradshaw pregnant, working cold cases, and searching for that elusive work-life balance. She's moved from London to Cambridge in search for a better life for her adopted (nearly) teenage son, Fly. The two live with Manon's sister, Ellie, and her toddler son, Solly. Unfortunately, Fly is not happy: he feels uprooted from his home and all he has known, even if Manon has brought him to Cambridge to start over, to keep him safe. She knows, too, that the new baby won't make things easier between them. Then Ellie's ex and Solly's dad, wealthy Jon-Oliver Ross, is found dead and things quickly go awry for the entire Bradshaw clan. Manon finds herself trying to protect her beloved son and on the outside of an investigation at the force.

This is the sequel to Steiner's first novel featuring DI Manon Bradshaw, and I found it even better than the first. Told from varying POV--Manon; another DS, Davy, who is investigating Ross' death; a shop clerk named Birdie; and Angel, a young woman whom Birdies assists, the book is intriguing from the start, even if it begins a bit slowly. Storylines run almost in parallel, which ratchets up the suspense, and we even occasionally dip back in time. Poor Manon still isn't doing very well (she wasn't exactly in the best of shape in Missing, Presumed), as she struggles with a new home and dealing with her role as Fly's parent. He's facing trouble at school and seems depressed in their new city. The characters are all well-developed and quite fascinating: at first, I wasn't sure if Birdie and Angel would just drag the story down, but they were both quite interesting in their own right.

Parts of the novel are downright heartbreaking: especially some of the tales Angel tells us and bits and pieces of Manon and Fly's relationship. Steiner's novels are certainly tinged with a tad of melancholy (and some of Manon's patented poor decision-making). But the plot on this one is quite engaging, keeping me reading late into the night and guessing the entire time. The novel does an excellent job of a creating a tangled web and casting plenty of doubt on each and every potential suspect.

Further, I loved so many of the characters and found myself highlighting quotes left and right - even if Manon frustrated me, I do very much care for and relate to her, and I liked Davy much more this time, too. Birdie was a charming character, as well. In addition, the novel offers such a timely look at race (even if set in another country from my own). So often I just wanted to give Fly or Manon a hug, or set things right.

In the end, this is a captivating mystery novel. It's slow start ends quickly and is all but forgotten once Manon gets more involved in her own shadow investigation to protect Fly. I think with each novel, I grow to love Manon more and more. I had my suspicions about who did it, but the novel kept me guessing and reading. Definitely enjoyed this one, and I hope Steiner brings Manon back for a third book in the series.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!); its is available everywhere in the U.S. as of 07/04/2017.

You can read my review of the first book in the series, MISSING, PRESUMED, here.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Google+ ~ Instagram

View all my reviews
Post a Comment