Despite a wealth of detail, I was never sure where the mystery was set. Some English village next to a river or the ocean with London an hour or so away, but it didn’t ring a bell and I’ve been to Britain many times. Much of the action takes place in a trailer caravan and a bar where Natalie and Beth work.
Natalie is the plain one of the two barmaids, jealous of the attention Beth receives, though Beth is a good friend supporting Natalie after she has an abortion after breaking up with her boyfriend. When a young man who was smitten with Beth (aren’t they all?) is found dead in the river the mystery begins. Natalie receives a text from her saying she has decided to visit her mother in northern England though she doesn’t appear to take any of her things and later her cell phone turns up.
Kent tries, Agatha Christie style, to provide a litany of possible suspects. The problem is none of them are well drawn characters and are indistinguishable bar flies. One has a boat. One is quiet and shy but other than that we really know nothing about them. Where’s Colonel Mustard when we really need him? The scenes in the point of view of the old man are slow. He apparently saw the killer with blood on his arm but has suffered a stroke-like event and can’t tell anyone. His meandering thoughts are frustrating to follow and once it’s clear that he is going to have trouble remembering, his scenes plod. The addition of a nurse or orderly who might kill him doesn’t add much, since it’s obvious the old man is coming around.
In addition, we have the cliché of the dense cop who refuses to believe Beth has disappeared and has probably been the victim of foul play. Nor do the police believe Natalie’s tale of mysterious men following her, sneaking into her flat, or that some of Beth’s clothing has been rearranged. Frankly in this age of people glued to their devices nobody would leave town without their phone and that alone should have made any cop brighter than a 30-watt bulb suspicious.
Natalie insists that someone has harmed Beth and for page after page no one will believe her. The ending is almost devoid of tension. Of course, the boat leaks and someone has been chopped to little pieces—more clichés.
The book got a lovely plug in the Wall Street Journal, but I give The Day She Disappeared a real solid D and only because I’m in a good mood.
Steve E Clark as seen in the New York Times is Author of Justice Is for the Lonely and Justice Is for the Deserving, Kristen Kerry Novels Of Suspense. You can purchase his books via SteveClarkAuthor.com/BuyBook or request it at your local book store. Want to know more about Steve Clark, read more reviews or speak directly with Steve? Learn more about Steve at SteveClarkAuthor.com