The Search Party by Simon Lelic

‘The truth lay buried in their stories somewhere, Fleet remained convinced.’

Teenager Sadie Saunders has been missing for six days.  The entire town thinks she is dead: murdered.  And they think they knew who did it.  But her friends are not sure.  They are aware that they are suspects.  Abi, Mason, Cora, Fash and Luke (Sadie’s twin brother) form a search party to look for her, but only four of them return.

The group has headed off for the woods where Sadie was last seen.  Each of them has a secret, all of them knows more than they will admit.

In a series of one-sided interviews with the teenagers we learn of the events leading to the death on the search party.  We view the police investigation through the eyes of DI Robin Fleet, who has his own links through a personal tragedy to the town where Sadie disappeared.

It took me a while to adjust to the one-sided conversations as a means of obtaining information, but it works well.  Each of the teenagers has a perspective, each conversation adds to our knowledge of events.  Each conversation adds to the tension.  The more information we have, the more possibilities appear.

What happened to Sadie?  And which teenager died?

This is a novel which rewards concentration.  Yes, there are twists and turns, but there are some subtle clues along the way.

While I enjoyed this novel, it was the characters of DI Robin Fleet and his offsider DS Nicola Collins who really held my attention.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books (UK) for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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