Tim Johnson took his baby daughter out for a walk and she never made it home. Johnson claims he was assaulted and the girl was snatched. The police see a different crime, with Johnson their only suspect.
A year later, Sam Bryne is on course to be elected as one of the youngest MPs in Westminster. He’s tipped for the very top … until he vanishes.
Detectives Murphy and Rossi are tasked with discovering what has happened to the popular politician – and in doing so, they unearth a trail that stretches into the past, and crimes that someone is hell-bent on avenging.
I found Luca Veste through the wonderful BritCrime group, so when I was offered an opportunity to read his newest book in advance of publication, I was keen to give it a go. BritCrime, by the way, are having a festival this weekend and I’ve been enjoying author conversations, crime chats and more, all from the comfort of my tablet and PC. Together with the formidable Killer Women network, they are a fabulous resource and a great way to find out more about the books and authors we love to read.
I’d not read any of Luca’s books, so I didn’t really have any preconceptions. It didn’t take long though for me to form some thoughts about the author. He comes across as a really good guy (well, he’s from Liverpool, so what did I expect?). He clearly cares a great deal about his subject and his characters; so his relationships, especially that between DI Murphy and DS Rossi, feel authentic. (As an aside, I’d also mention that his acknowledgements are heroic).
So, to the book itself. Liverpool and the Wirral feature strongly and Veste really shows his knowledge and love for the city in his descriptions. He also knows that politics is really what makes Liverpool so fascinating and he uses that to strong advantage in this book.
Then She Was Gone has two storylines which Veste weaves together. Tim Johnson has been convicted of a crime he knows he did not commit. Someone snatched his 4 week old baby daughter, Molly and attacked him while they were walking in Sefton Park– but no-one believes him, and, to make matters worse, his wife Lauren has disappeared. In fact, the police at first think he made the whole thing up, and that there was no wife and no daughter. Then he stands trial and is sentenced in the face of forensic evidence that a crime was indeed committed, although no body has as yet been found.
Meanwhile David Murphy and Laura Rossi, assigned to major crimes, have been called in to investigate the disappearance of 26 year old Sam Byrne. Not a usual assignment for major crimes, but called in because Sam is a young man who’s made a name for himself in local politics and is on the verge of becoming a Tory MP, a position once held by his father. There’s a rich vein of dry humour running through the book; I loved the description of Byrne’s father, Arthur, as ‘the Eric Pickles of his time’.
Rossi and Murphy soon find out that Sam is not all he seems to be. His sense of privilege has led him down a dangerous path and someone is keen that he pays the price.
Secrets lie behind every twist and turn of this book. Lies and deceit prevail behind a façade of propriety – and even Murphy and Rossi’s relationship is not immune as their relationship is tested by the events of the investigation.
This is really good storytelling and Veste weaves his dark and grisly tale with strong narrative, excellent plotting and good characterisation. He draws the threads together with mastery and leaves the reader unsure what will happen next.
I really liked this book, so I’m going back to read the others. Luca Veste is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Then She Was Gone is published by Simon & Schuster UK on 28 July 2016