Source: Review copy
Publication: 1st September 2022from Wildfire
My thanks to Wildfire Books for an advance copy for review
On holiday in Crete, Lord Bellingham had been solo trekking in the White Mountains when he mysteriously disappeared. After a vast search and rescue operation, the local police have no leads, save for a mobile phone discarded on a cliff edge.
Assistant Commissioner Louise Mangan of the Met Police is sent to assist in the investigation but soon discovers that there are more layers to this case than the local police realise.
Lady Bellingham is less than forthcoming, the family nanny is hiding something, and a scandal is brewing back in London that could destroy the minister’s reputation for good.
Under pressure from the powers that be, can Louise find the missing minister, or will she discover something much more sinister at play?
Alan Johnson is an engaging writer who knows how to develop characters and keep relationships lively as he builds his mystery storylines. One of Our Ministers is Missing is partly set on the beautiful island of Crete where a Peer of the Realm, property developer and Junior Minister at the FCO, Lord Bellingham has a holiday home. A keen walker, he disappeared on one of his regular hikes into the White Mountains leaving his wife Miranda and his children distraught.
Meanwhile, back in London, Assistant Met Commissioner, Louise Mangan is preparing security arrangements for the forthcoming visit of Turkish literary figure and dissident Burak Bayram to Stoke Newington.
When the Met are looking for someone to act as liaison with the Greek Police in the disappearance of Lord Bellingham, Louise Mangan who knows Crete reasonably well, is happy to lose her far too constricting uniform and had off to do some actual detective work alongside the Greek Police.
Alan Johnson writes with an easy, fluid style and his mixture of politics, assassins, criminal behaviour and personal liaisons leading to thrilling outcomes is a heady and attractive mix. Johnson keeps the reader on their toes as he throws in false clues and diverting story lines in sub-plots designed to throw the reader off track.
Verdict: The dual settings of London and Crete work well and Johnson has a good eye for sympathetic characters. His depiction of the tensions between police officers on Crete is excellent and adds another layer of interest to an already fascinating mystery. With killers, corruption even a sleazy tabloid journalist, Johnson has left nothing to chance and his plotting is good and his characterisation even better. This is prime easy and engaging reading. If you haven’t yet had your holiday, this is one to take with you.
Alan Johnson’s childhood memoir THIS BOY was published in 2013. It won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, and the Orwell Prize, Britain’s top political writing award. His second volume of memoirs, PLEASE MR POSTMAN (2014) won the National Book Club award for Best Biography. The final book in his memoir trilogy, THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD (2016), won the Parliamentary Book Award for Best Memoir. IN MY LIFE – A MUSIC MEMOIR was published in 2018 and his highly acclaimed first novel, THE LATE TRAIN TO GIPSY HILL was published in 2021. Alan was a Labour MP for 20 years before retiring ahead of the 2017 general election. He served in five cabinet positions in the Governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown including Education Secretary, Health Secretary and Home Secretary. He and his wife Carolyn live in East Yorkshire.