Author: H.A. Linksey
Publisher: Penguin Books
Date of publication: 23 January 2020
Number of pages: 416
Alice Teale walked out of school at the end of a bright spring day.
She’s not been seen since.
Alice was popular and well-liked, and her boyfriend, friends and family are desperate to find her.
But soon it’s clear that everyone in her life has something to hide.
Then the police receive a disturbing package.
Pages from Alice’s precious diary.
Who could have sent them? And what have they done with Alice?
I have a soft spot for missing person cases. They tend to turn into giant and sticky spider webs with secrets at every corner, whether those secrets matter to the case or not. Well, I am talking about the good missing person cases. The plots which keep you hoping you will find the person alive. The book which makes you hear the ticking of the clock, each minute resonating like the slap of death. To be honest, I have not read many novels that managed to tick all the boxes.
Alice Teale Is Missing did.
What a book! Where do I begin? In a small town, a seemingly perfect teenager goes missing. Two important words here: teenager and missing. To the police, they often ring a bell. ‘Oh, she’s just run away’ We can’t blame them, it does happen. Except in this case, the reader knows there is more to it than a girl packing up to flee to London. And the first hours and days have been lost.
That prologue. I could feel goosebumps break out on my arms. I read it twice, getting each word into my mind, my instinct telling me it would all make sense in the end, and it would feel even more satisfying if I could connect this chilling opening to what I hoped would be a great ending.
If the beginning left me spooked, the first lines of Alice Teale’s diary got me hungry for answers to questions I had at the top of my tongue. Without context, it was hard to decipher Alice’s prose, but it is obvious that the diary is a key element in finding her, and discovering the truth. That’s why I don’t have a diary! Ha! If I die, no one will have a clue where to look.
So, two big things in a few pages. I considered myself lucky. Then I met Beth Winter. Again, a short chapter, just enough information to understand she is being shipped to a team to investigate Alice Teale’s disappearance. A team she might not want to stay with for too long…
Oh, were you hoping for only a few secrets, well-hidden and unraveled at a peak moment? Welcome to secrets land. Scarcely have I been given so many details and yet felt so confused by all the secrecy than with this book. And let me tell you, I loved every minute of it.
Beth is teamed up with Lucas Black, a senior detective with a dark past and a broody mood. Young and inexperienced when it comes to big cases, I loved how Beth assessed her position, her new bosses, and did her best to do what was expected of her, and more. Her resilience led me to admire her, and soon, I was on her side, if there was a side to choose. Lucas Black is a mystery (another one!) but the author doesn’t overplay this card, which made it easier for me to find a breach and understand him better. Winter and Black learn how to work together, and the reader learns how to follow them, not always in on their thoughts until necessary. It requires to trust the author, but don’t fear, as Howard Linksey masterfully directs his play, leaving nothing to chance, yet letting the toxic fog of lies wrap itself around the world he has created.
The plot itself is superb. Parts of Alice’s diary are sent to Lucas Black. Every person who is linked to the missing teenager has something to hide. Winter and Black are gold diggers in a muddy land. Well-crafted clues are discovered, but as in many investigations, not everything you learn leads you in the right direction. I couldn’t get enough of the police work, the talks to the family, boyfriend, friends. I relished the possibility to compare what others said of Alice to what her own words revealed of the young girl. Pages of her diary keep appearing, and with them the tension builds. Who is hiding what?
It is obvious Alice found out something, and I was in awe of the way the author had his main character retrace her steps, trying to figure out what she had heard or seen, and would have caused her to disappear. Could Winter and Black be clever enough to reach Alice’s big secret? The authentic feel of police work, with its frustrations and strains, the long hours and the cul-de-sacs, kept me hooked like a fish to a bait!
Alice Teale Is Missing is a nail-biting read filled with perfect dark secrets. One of my favourite missing person cases!
Find the book by clicking on the cover below. (ebook £0,99 at the moment!!!!)
I would like to thank the publisher for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
H. A. Linskey is originally from Ferryhill in County Durham, but now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and daughter. Under Howard Linskey, he is the author of a series of crime novels set in the North-East, featuring detective Ian Bradshaw and journalists Tom Carney and Helen Norton.