The Day She Disappeared, Christobel Kent
After a messy breakup, Nat is ready to move on with her life and to figure out what might come next. Her miserable ex, Jim, might be stubbornly refusing to accept the new reality and let her go but Nat is keen to put it all firmly behind her, maybe even have a bit of a laugh over it with her mate Beth. Beth has always been a different operator to Nat – outgoing and determinedly pragmatic when it comes to enjoying the company of men as they take her eye. Beth has always been the good time friend, but Nat has always trusted the substance of Beth behind the bright and bubbly front that her fellow bar worker puts on for the world. It’s not terribly unusual for Beth to disappear sometimes, which is more than annoying to their employer and workmates when it happens. This time though it seems quite different. What is most alarming is that everyone around Nat seems convinced that Beth is just off to see family and will eventually crawl back into the pub with her usual fervent apologies.
Living and working in a small village means encountering in the street the array of customers that all come into the pub where the two women work. Nat knows that the charms of Beth have never hurt the custom of which is quite an isolated little place, even for a holiday destination. As the days tick over Nat is more and more certain that someone is watching her, perhaps even watching her searching in despair as the days tick over with no sign of Beth. It must be someone very close to them both who is leaving disturbing little clues that Beth won’t be coming back.
THE DAY SHE DISAPPEARED is one of those slow moving crime novels that you need to commit to, and then your reward will come. There are complex relationships at play and the modern issues that are raised include the treatment of the aged, misogyny, family violence and the closed shop realities of village life. A murder in such a setting is not unusual but it does serve as a catalyst for action amongst the cast of characters that otherwise might seem to be stoically enduring their daily grind. Stay with them and the submerged part of their personalities eventually will rise to the surface for your closest inspection.
It can a little difficult with an ebook read to immediately grasp whom we are reading about, as there are a few passages from the point of view of the killer, who is obviously close and observing the aftermath of his or her acts. This needed to be better delineated as the reader could find themselves backtracking to see exactly who thoughts they were just privy to.
If you have a hankering for English mysteries, THE DAY SHE DISAPPEARED will set you up nicely for the duration, immersing its readers in the somewhat dream location of a holiday park located near the water (as all the best ones are). Author Christobel Kent structures her narrative here in such a fashion that the reader feels they are drifting along with the protagonist, absorbing her insecurities, becoming increasingly tense with each new suspicion.
When Beth disappears, everyone says she’s run off with another man. She’s just a fly-by-night party girl who can’t be trusted. But Natalie, her best friend, doesn’t believe it, not at all. She’s sure something more sinister is going on. So sure that proving it just might kill her . . .
Meanwhile, Victor, one of Beth’s and Nat’s favorite bar patrons, has fallen and ended up in the hospital. When he hears that Beth is gone, he doesn’t buy it either. And slowly, a hazy memory comes back to him. Something menacing . . . something important . . . something just out of his grasp . . .
As Nat tries to piece together the events—and people—in Beth’s life, it becomes more difficult to discern who can and can’t be trusted. The little town in the English countryside takes on an ominous air, with a threat behind every corner, outside every window. And someone is always watching . . .