Missing Person
Sarah Lotz
Mulholland Books 2019
480 pages

I very much enjoyed The White Road, so when I had the opportunity to read Sarah Lotz’s latest crime fiction, I jumped at the chance. Sarah Lotz Missing Person on Kindle

Over in Ireland, mild mannered bookstore owner Shaun Ryan never doubts that his uncle Teddy died in an accident in the 90s, until a former friend of Teddy’s shows up in town and begs to differ.

A confrontation with his family reveals only the beginning of the lies they have adhered to over the years. It becomes Shaun’s mission to find his uncle and learn the truth.

He sends a photo of Teddy to Missing-linc.com, a serious on-line group of volunteers in the U.S. who share the difficult yet fulfilling task of connecting missing persons with deceased individuals that are identified.

While Teddy is not a current case, site organizer Chris Guzman, who goes by Ratking1, is convinced that Teddy is The Boy in the Dress; the victim of a serial killer who targeted young gay men in the 90s.

Police leads are long since cold, so Shaun and the group “work” the case like true investigators, gathering information, discovering clues, formulating theories and making contacts to discover what happened, and perhaps find the perpetrator in the process. They are not infallible. Their meeting and adjusting to each other off line adds an interesting touch.

Characters in Missing Person by Sarah Lotz are interesting and believable. When a sinister player emerges, his role becomes darker and darker, adding interest and suspense to a plot which builds nicely to a shocking and dramatic conclusion.

Although slow to percolate, and a bit disjointed, Missing Person is a mystery novel with an interesting premise that works well in a world of rampant social media.

Perhaps Missing Person by Sarah Lotz may appeal more to a younger audience (20s +) and those older individuals whose familiar and frequent mode of connection is via the keyboard.

I am personally not a fan of numerous pages of text bubbles and IM sequences. While they accurately communicate what is on the characters’ minds, share information, and inject a sense of present-time contemporary reality like an actual on line group, they are somewhat distracting for me, especially when every character also has a screen ID to remember and associate with his/her actual name and back story. (One character even has two fake names.)

I also had difficulty with the ending. While mostly everything was pieced together and tied up nicely—SPOILER ALERT—after a significant plot twist, the answer to a crucial question was left up in the air, literally for readers and the group to “figure out yourself”.

Readers are intelligent people who will have opinions and theories, but it’s nice to compare them to Sarah Lotz‘s intention. The lack of information and opportunity to be able to do that, felt like a cop out on the author’s part.

I am glad that I read The White Road first. I very much enjoyed that, and know how good a writer Lotz can be. I hope that she will return to her previous captivating and exciting writing style.

Also by Sarah Lotz: Day Four

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