Review: Odd lack of suspense permeates 'Day She Disappeared'

Updated 3/5/2018 8:22 AM

"The Day She Disappeared" (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux), by Christobel Kent

A lackluster plot with too many side stories and underdeveloped characters mar British author Christobel Kent's latest thriller. "The Day She Disappeared" never fully recovers from its laborious beginning in which a barmaid tries to find out what has happened to her co-worker.

Natalie "Nat" Cooper grows concerned when she doesn't hear from Beth Maxwell, her best friend and co-worker at the local pub who had taken some time off to care for her ailing mother. Natalie knows Beth is a bit flighty, loves to party and often has a different boyfriend every week. It seems in character for Beth to text her boss saying that she's met the love of her life and won't be returning. Nat believes something has happened to her friend. Others shrug off Beth's disappearance, even when it's obvious that she isn't at her mother's. After all, as more than one person says, things often happen to "women like that."

The police dismiss Nat's concern as they concentrate on finding what happened to Oliver Mason, a young man whose body was pulled out of the river and who has a link to Beth. Meanwhile, 92-year-old Victor Powell, who was one of Beth's favorite customers, ends up in the hospital after suffering a stroke while sitting on a park bench. Victor saw something before he fell ill, but the stroke left him unable to speak.

"The Day She Disappeared" meanders, guided by characters that are, at best, barely shaped and, at worst, uninteresting. Set in an unnamed British village, Kent still showcases the English countryside and its weirs.

An odd lack of suspense permeates the story, and it's only in the last 65 pages that the plot heats up and a sense of menace finally flows through the denouement.

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