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The Missing Hours - Emma Kavanagh

I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Net Galley and this is my honest opinion of the book.


Selena Cole vanishes from a playground, leaving her two young children alone. DC Leah Mackay is looking into her disappearance but time is against her. A murder has just taken place and she’s be called in to investigate, leaving her no time to look for Selena, even though there is no clue to her whereabouts. Meanwhile Leah’s brother DS Finn Hale is the lead detective on the murder case; the victim a local criminal solicitor. Selena returns unhurt 20 hours after she has disappeared, claiming no recollection of the intervening hours. Is there any connection between her disappearance and the murder that occurred during those missing hours?


This is the third novel by Emma Kavanagh and after reading and loving the first two I couldn’t wait to read this intriguing sounding story.


I was familiar with the kidnap and ransom industry, the kidnapping of people for profit, the insurance that can be obtained to cover it and of the companies who are called in to negotiate release, for the right price. (Not, I hasten to add through any nefarious means, simply because I watch too many crime dramas and read too many crime novels). It was fascinating to see the K&R industry dealt with in this novel, it is in general a little known area of criminal activity and makes for an interesting story angle.


I had figured out early on in the novel one of the story arcs. I spent many a happy moment metaphorically shouting at Leah and Finn, muttering ‘it’s obvious that … has happened, why can’t they see it…’ In fact I spent so much time merrily berating the police and enjoying seeing the story unravel as I had smugly predicted that I forgot about the other story arc and was completely surprised by the reveal. Don’t take this to mean that the story was obvious however. It’s just I enjoy hurriedly going through all the potential permutations of what could have happened in a story and like to challenge myself to work it out as quickly as possible. I have enormous fun figuring out ‘whodunit’ in a novel, as was the case with this story.


As with her previous novels, Falling and Hidden, Emma Kavanagh shows her talent in creating three dimensional characters, that feel real. As a reader I was easily able to conjure up images of each of the main characters, each one there to add substance to the story. I liked the dynamic between Leah and Finn. I don’t recall coming across a brother and sister detective team before and the relationship between the two worked extremely well. Both were flawed characters, having their own private issues to deal with, but both were also kind and engaging, and the sibling interaction brought sprinkles of light relief. It would be great to see these characters return and develop.


Another character who I found deeply fascinating was Selena Cole. Her coolness whilst negotiating the release of hostages, recalled through the case files, is placed in high relief compared to her out of character disappearance that opens the novel. She is a very interesting character and a novel featuring her and the rest of the Cole Group would be high on my reading list.


The only trouble with having an ensemble cast and a story that flits between them is that sometimes there is the feeling that you haven’t quite seen as much from a character as was possible. There were times when there were glimpses into Leah or Finn that I would have liked to learn more about. But it’s a sign of skilled characterisation that I wanted to know more and didn’t just let them wash over me.


There have been some reviews I’ve read which have commented on the abruptness of the ending. For me the ending was a fitting way to finish the story. I’m one of those reader’s that thinks they prefer everything sewn up at the end but in actual fact I realise I don’t mind when a little ambiguity is left. It is for the reader to fill in the blanks. It is often the sign of a good story when you imagine what the characters get up to after the novel closes. That is the case with this novel. It also reveals what kind of reader you are to some extent, will you imagine a happy ending, or predict a darker outcome?


Another gripping, truly fascinating novel from Emma Kavanagh, full of interesting characters and based on a unique premise. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.