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Book review: Where the Missing Go by Emma Rowley

Where the Missing Go by Emma Rowley
Where the Missing Go by Emma Rowley
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‘The thing about the missing is that they don’t always want to be found.’

The police have told Kate Harlow to accept that her teenage daughter, who walked out two years ago, is probably never coming home… but how can a mother give up on the hunt for her only child, particularly when she instinctively knows that something is terribly wrong?

With a career background in newspaper journalism, Emma Rowley was always well placed to write about the trauma involved in a missing person case and this gripping mystery – simply fizzing with tension and emotional intensity – is in line to be one of this year’s most exciting psycho thrillers.

To ease the raw pain and guilt of her beloved 16-year-old daughter Sophie’s sudden disappearance two years ago, Kate Harlow is volunteering on the phone helpline at Message in a Bottle, an impartial charity that acts as a go-between to pass on messages to loved ones from missing persons.

The police launched an intensive hunt for Sophie when she walked out just before her GCSE exams but it was downgraded when the girl made a brief written contact with her parents. Since then, Kate’s marriage has fallen apart and the police have decided that there were ‘no suspicious circumstances.’

When a desperate phone call comes in one evening whilst she is manning the charity helpline, every part of Kate knows that this is Sophie. She has imagined and dreamt of this call many times but what she hadn’t expected was that her daughter would sound so scared.

To Kate, Sophie’s disappearance has never felt right or made sense, and now she is no longer prepared to just sit tight and hope that the police can solve the mystery. This could be her last chance to find Sophie, and Kate has a plan…

Where the Missing Go is an intriguing and emotionally astute thriller… with its mother’s worst nightmare scenario, a plot that holds more twists and turns than a snakes and ladders board, and an air of mystery and menace that leaps off the page, Rowley takes us on a knife-edge journey that offers no guarantee of a happy ending.

And this is an author who uses both her sharp mind and her emotional intuition… Kate’s acute anguish and guilt over her missing daughter is beautifully portrayed and yet we are still left questioning where the truth lies, and what really happened two years ago.

A clever dual narrative between mother and daughter allows the reader to observe Kate’s obsessional battle to track down the teenager – a hunt that those close to Kate fear is tipping her into insanity – even as we are given tantalising glimpses into the life of missing Sophie.

Dark, deep and impressively insightful, this is a powerful story that will have you hooked from the intriguing prologue to the jaw-dropping conclusion.

(Orion, paperback, £7.99)