Penguin UK – Michael Joseph
Pub Date: 16 Jun 2016
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the ‘thriller/mystery’ genre, although I don’t tend to read them as often as I once did, in part because the ones I was reading were getting to feel a little bit samey. So it is always nice to discover a new voice and to get a interesting premise to boot.
Margot Lewis is a school teacher in a Cambridge secondary school, St Hilda’s. She is dedicated to her job and indeed her dedication – in helping a boy in her class deal with some anger issues – also led to her getting the role of agony aunt for the local paper: The Cambridge Examiner. Her advice column, Dear Amy, gets all the usual kinds of letters you’d expect, including its fair share of crank ones, but when she receives one from a girl – Bethan Avery – who went missing, presumed murdered back in the nineties – her instincts tell her it could be genuine, even though it makes no sense that she is getting the letter now.
The Police don’t seem to be interested even as more letters arrive, but someone from the historical analysis team, Martin Forrester, is interested, and interested enough to help Margot solve the apparent mystery [No prizes for guessing what happened between them] Then there is also the issue of another missing girl – Katie Browne – who used to be in Margot’s class, and Margot’s belief that the two cases/abductions/murders could be linked.
What follows is a thoroughly entertaining book. Callaghan has made Margot a likeable and fallible heroine who comes across as a believable person. The mix of first person Margot and third person supporting cast work well at driving the plot forward, although some of these supporting characters (Margot’s husband, for example) are a bit one dimensional. And it does get a bit farfetched towards the end, as levels of plausibility are tossed aside in favour of modern genre convention, but I wouldn’t hold that against Callaghan or her book. There is more than enough here to make me look out for Callaghan’s next offering.
Review copy supplied by Penguin/NetGalley