From the author's website:
After a house explodes in a quiet Oxford suburb, and a child disappears in the aftermath, Sarah Tucker – a young married woman, bored and unhappy with her life – becomes obsessed with trying to find her. Very soon she’s questioning everything she thought she knew, as her attempts at investigation reveal that people long thought dead are still among the living, while the living are joining the dead … What begins in a peaceful neighbourhood reaches a climax on a remote and unwelcoming Scottish island, as the search for the missing child launches Sarah onto a journey with a companion who is himself being hunted by murderous official forces…
“Good characterization, dialogue and well-paced narrative make this confident first novel frighteningly plausible.” – Daily TelegraphToxic Dinner Parties in Fiction at the Clothes in Books blog. This event could definitely be added to that list.)
On discovering a fire, the instructions began, shout Fire and try to put it out. It was useful, heart-of-the-matter advice, and could be extended almost indefinitely in any direction. On discovering your husband's guests are arseholes, shout Arseholes and try to put them out. This was a good starting point. Sarah was one glass of wine away from putting it in motion.This book is about a serious subject (actually, more than one) and much of the action is very tense, but the story is told with humor. I find Mick Herron's writing compelling and entertaining, and the characterization and dialogue are very good. There are some quirky characters, and a lot of very evil, scary characters.
The first book I read by Herron was Slow Horses, and that was in the espionage fiction genre. This is not specifically espionage ficiton, but close enough. There are covert operations sanctioned by the government taking place and if innocent people get involved, so be it.
A conversation between Sarah and Zoë...
"Who said I loved him? That was over years ago."One could accuse this of being a schizophrenic story, switching from a story about a bored housewife obsessing about a missing child to a thriller with covert operatives chasing down people who threaten to uncover secrets. I felt that it held together well and the story was exactly as it should be.
"So why all this?"
"Because when a woman's partner gets killed, she has to do something about it. It doesn't matter what she thought of him. She has to do something about it."
"I don't get you."
"The Maltese Falcon," Zoë said. "Believe me, Joe'd have understood."
Publisher: Soho Constable, 2009 (orig. pub. 2003)
Length: 316 pages
Format: Trade paper
Setting: Oxford, England
Series: Zoë Boehm #1
Source: From my TBR pile.