Source: Review copy
Publication: Penguin on 14 December 2017
HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?
HOW CAN A CHILD VANISH WITHOUT A TRACE?
Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a summer party at her home. No one at the party noticed her leave. Even her parents aren’t sure of the last time they saw her.
DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that in nine cases out of ten, it’s someone close to the victim.
When a pair of bloody tights is discovered, Fawley’s worst suspicions are concerned.
Someone knows where Daisy is. And her time is running out.
Close to Home opens with the disappearance of eight year old Daisy Mason from a summer party in the family’s garden on the Canal Manor Estate in Oxford. No one at the party saw her leave, not even her own parents.
DI Adam Fawley is assigned to the case. Though he doesn’t speak of it until late in the book, he carries the weight of a tragedy in his own family close to him and it is clear that this case resonates deeply with him.
From the start it is clear that Daisy’s family are a bit dysfunctional. Her mother, Sharon, is obsessed with appearance and cleanliness and outing on a good show in front of the neighbours. The house is all cream carpets and shoes lined up by the door lest the carpet be despoiled by dirt. Even in the early stages of Daisy’s disappearance this is what her mother focusses on. Her father Barry appears to dote on his ‘little Princess’, but is their relationship all that it should be?
Meanwhile Daisy’s brother, Leo is withdrawn and seems, to D.I. Fawley at least, to be hiding something.
The novel follows a first person linear timeline with flashbacks, interspersed with interview transcripts, News Bulletins and social media reports which show both how the pace of the investigation is ramping up and also how quick the public can be to pass judgement and to drive a campaign around guilt and innocence without any established facts. Trial by social media is being conducted alongside the police investigation and not in a helpful way.
Adam Fawley finds himself struggling to get detailed information about the night of the party and the events leading up to it. The structure of the book is such that as each new piece of information appears, both from interviews or CCTV or a piece of found evidence, the reader is presented with the same clues as D.I. Fawley and each piece will point to a new suspect. As the investigation moves from person to person, can the reader work out what happened before D.I. Fawley does?
As everyone connected to Daisy Mason comes under scrutiny for those on social media it is enough to judge each one guilty before their innocence can be proven.
Curiously for a first person narrative, we don’t find out a huge amount about D.I. Fawley as a character, other than that tragedy and the fact that he will doggedly pursue all leads. There is clearly more to learn about him and hopefully that will follow in future books in this series.
The structure of having no real chapters works well in terms of seeing how the investigation proceeds and the book is well written with clever plot twists, a distinctly authentic feel and an ending that surprises but makes perfect sense.
Close to Home is more than just a police procedural about a missing child; it is also a pretty damning indictment of crowd justice on social media. Above all, though it is a tautly written book that looks at the heartbreak and damage that can be caused by the absence of love and the devastating impact that has on the lives of all concerned.
About Cara Hunter
Cara Hunter is a writer who lives in Oxford, in a street not unlike those featured in her series of crime books. Close to Home is her debut featuring DI Adam Fawley, and her second, In the Dark, will be published in July.
You can follow Cara on @CaraHunterBooks
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