Set in a small English community where the main activities revolve around bars and boat rides, The Day She Disappeared is the latest suspense/mystery by Sunday Times bestselling author Christobel Kent.
Under the eerie backdrop of the body of a young man being fished from the weir, Nat knows that something is wrong. Her barmaid buddy best friend Beth is gone. But not only is she gone, she is missing. Since Beth has a reputation of being wild and carefree and rather indiscriminate with men, nobody takes Nat seriously when she becomes worried.
It's ironic that now that she has disappeared, few people seem to care about the woman who previously got all of the attention. Even the police brush Nat off, so as all literary heroines do, she tries to find Beth herself. To her surprise, Nat discovers not only that her best friend has a lot of secrets, but that she may be in grave danger herself.
As the plot develops, life becomes more and more complicated. It is hard to find a character who is not dysfunctional, or connected to someone who is. There is a complicated array of creepiness borne of abusive partners, scary exes, leering pub-goers, stalkers, and men women should never be alone with. Kent does a good job of making even those who seem like good guys carry an air that they can't be trusted.
The most interesting and sympathetic character is 92 year-old Victor; a fiercely independent man who may have seen someone with blood on his hands. The problem is, Victor falls ill with a stroke and is struggling with not only his memory, but his life. The ebb and flow of his recollections, and his strain to remain in control make for compelling reading.
It took a while for me to get into The Day She Disappeared. I found the early use of incomplete sentences distracting. That being said, the excitement level does grow. It peaks at the end.
I enjoyed parts of the book, but not others. Victor's life and the complications with his beloved daughter Sophie and her family are very interesting. Beth...quite frankly, although I wanted to know what happened, it got so that I didn't care if Nat found her or not, and I was looking for an earlier resolution.
The author takes us on a fishing trip for red herring. While it keeps the cooking pot full, it does not whet the appetite. Likewise, when a brand new and significant character pops up out of the blue near the book's conclusion, although it aids in the wrap-up, the strategy does little to enhance the reading experience.
There were pros and cons to The Day She Disappeared. Although I am sure that this mystery will be loved by many of Christobel Kent's followers and fans, it was not entirely my cup of tea.