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Persons Unknown

Cover: 'Persons Unknown'

Staff Review: "Persons Unknown" by Susie Steiner

★★★★★

Motivated by a desire to protect adopted twelve-year-old son Fly from potentially bad influences (and the frequent friskings he was subject to as a hoodie-clad black youth) and to find a better work-life balance as she anticipates the birth of her child, Mannon Bradshaw has moved back to Cambridgeshire with Fly, her sister Ellie, and Ellie’s toddler son, Solly. The transition has not been without its challenges—Mannon is stuck working cold cases (which she insists she enjoys), Fly is having issues at school, and Ellie is generally unhappy. This uneasy “new normal” is suddenly disrupted when Ellie’s ex (and Solly’s father) is murdered at a local park and Fly, who walks through the park daily to go to school, becomes the prime suspect. Mannon is excluded from the case but finds herself pitted against her colleagues, including Davey, who was promoted to her former position, and Harriet as a mother determined to protect her vulnerable son. That’s not to say that Mannon is above doing some unofficial investigating on her own, even though the professional and personal risks are significant. Like Missing, Presumed, the author’s first book, Steiner delivers a compelling case to crack while exploring the societal forces at work in the investigation of criminal acts. While narrating duties are shared among multiple characters, Mannon remains the central character, and she is a complicated and often prickly delight as she finds her personal interests in conflict with her professional identity. Recommended for fans of Kate Atkinson, Laura Lippman, or Ruth Rendell.

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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