Gone – North East England – Rebecca Muddiman

gone

Why a booktrail?

Following on from her success with Stolen – the winner of the 2010 Northern Crime Writers competition in 2012 has done it again and places the North East on the North East Noir map.

Story in a nutshell

250,000 people go missing in the UK every year.

91% of those reported to police are found within 48 hours.

99% of cases are solved within a year.

And 1% stay gone.

Eleven years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. The police assumed she was a runaway. But now a body has been found in woods near Blyth.

DI Michael Gardner knows he didn’t take Emma’s disappearance seriously enough back then, but when he and DS Nicola Freeman start to reinvestigate, they discover that the past will come back to haunt them – and others.

Place and setting

Middlesbrough - where DI Gardner was based Blyth woods - where the body is found Alnwick Police station - DS Janet Williams works here Morpeth - links in the case are made here too
Middlesbrough – where DI Gardner was based
Blyth woods – where the body is found
Alnwick Police station – DS Janet Williams works here
Morpeth – links in the case are made here too

The book opens in Middlebrough and Blyth as we meet a series of characters who have just heard the news –

“The body was found in woods near Blyth earlier today”

Their reactions to it could not be more differerent and the trail of suspicion starts to weave and coil its way around each and every one of them throughout the novel.  The missing girl is thought to be Emma who disappeared 11 years ago but it is DI Michael Gardner, based in Middlesbrough who reacts with regret that he failed the girl. Meanwhile, Louise also in Middlesbrough fears that the discovery will mean that ‘they will find out what she’s done’. Then we are in Blyth – the scene of the crime and we  meet Lucas – a vile and sexist individual who ‘ has history’ with the dead girl.

The investigation into the woods and into those who knew Emma takes the police deep into the heart of Northumberland – Morpeth is a place of interest for someone linked to her past. Alnwick police station – the office of DS Janet Williams – becomes a place of investigation too since someone the police become interested in and so before long the trail from her disappearance to her discovery becomes a veritable trail across Northumberland and beyond.

Still it is the woods near Blyth which provide the dark and chilling point of interest. Added to that, the looming presence of Lucas and the dark criminal clouds start to gather in earnest.

Thoughts

A snappy, well structured and well written tale of a chilling and very real to life case. Maybe it was the statistics in the blurb which did it, but this felt like a real case and for that reason the undesirables you meet in and around Blyth are particularly nasty. Very real and believable – just down right nasty.

Told in dual time line –  1999 and 2010 (present day) , this was an effective mix of the confusion and regret of the present day investigation coupled with the dangerous unravelling of the past. very effective two paced thriller which made me want to read just one more chapter in order to fill in another missing piece of the puzzle.

The mix of characters was particularly interesting as the two police officers joined up to solve the crime. The regret and sheer frustration of the investigation past and present rang true and when you add those people Emma knew well – and their past actions – the puzzle grew in complexity and took on  a life of its own.

A missing persons case is perhaps the greatest puzzle of all as everyone seems to have a theory or an explanation of what happened. But peel back appearances and there is a lot more ‘behind the scenes’. You the reader feel very much a part of the investigation and the breadcrumb trail Rebecca leaves you is not as easy to follow as you think. I was left wondering what on earth I would find out at the end of it. And I was not disappointed. Gritty, real and a North East Noir pin on the booktrail map.

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