Without Trace by Simon Booker reviewed

Without Trace Book Cover Without Trace
Simon Booker
Bonnier Publishing Fiction Ltd.
June 16, 2016

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and Making a Murderer. 'A cracking debut. A real page-turner with a compelling central character' - Mark Billingham For four long years, journalist Morgan Vine has campaigned for the release of her childhood sweetheart Danny Kilcannon - convicted, on dubious evidence, of murdering his 14 year-old stepdaughter. When a key witness recants, Danny is released from prison. With nowhere else to go, he relies on single mum Morgan and her teenage daughter, Lissa. But then Lissa goes missing. With her own child now at risk, Morgan must re-think all she knows about her old flame - 'the one that got away'. As the media storm around the mysterious disappearance intensifies and shocking revelations emerge, she is forced to confront the ultimate question: who can we trust...? Introducing Morgan Vine, Without Trace is Simon Booker's debut thriller.

My immediate reaction to this tale by Simon Booker was that the start was intriguing and that the premise of the story was interesting. When I’m reading a review book I take notes as I’m going along as I find it really helpful when it comes to writing the final review. With this one it starts with “readable”, “contemporary” then “roller coaster” and then it all goes quiet – I was simply enjoying reading the book too much to bother! Looking back over it now I did find there was a contemporary/colloquial feel to the writing. Equally to me it had a feel of being written for broadcast in some form. The basic story is that Morgan’s childhood friend Danny has been jailed for raping & murdering his stop daughter and that his wife’s body has never been found. Morgan has been campaigning to free him for a few years based on a miscarriage of justice. He is released just after the start of the book. The chapters are generally in the present time however there are intermittent chapters look into Morgan (&Danny’s) earlier life as teenagers.

I really didn’t take me long to get drawn into this book and I did find it increasingly hard to put down. It is tense, well paced and twisty – it is hard to want anything more from this sort of thriller genre. The characters are well written if not very deep in some places. The story has a great atmosphere to it; fear, disbelief, dread and other emotions feel quite clear in the narrative.  The book rapidly becomes a roller coaster with my views on characters being changed by the writing. The line frequently used in the book is “Who can we trust?” and it is so appropriate to this. It is hard to know who really is a friend to Morgan. While I generally have some idea of how a book might turn out I confess half way through this one I was really unsure on this one. In a sense I found some of the storylines crazy, however – and maybe sadly – they were valid and appropriate to this internet/social media age. Whatever reservations I might have had about minor details were simply irrelevant as I neared the end of the story – I really did find it hard to put down. In the end I simply found this a highly enjoyable read, certainly one of the best books I’ve read in the past few months. I will look forward to the next one by this author – I will be reading it.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review