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3.8 out of 5 stars
Missing Persons
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've always enjoyed the books written by the team of Nicci French, and so I expected this solo book by Nicci Gerrard (one half of the Nicci French writing team) to be pretty much in the same vein. It was and it wasn't. 'Missing Persons' is the story of the Hopkins family, Mum Isabel, Dad Felix, daughter Tamsin, son Johnny, and daughter Mia. They are a typical family unit, with all the trials and tribulations that most of us experience. Tamsin, the oldest daughter, is overweight and unhappy. Mia, the youngest, is thin and being bullied at school. Johnny.........well, Johnny is perfect. He is a kind, caring, loving boy, who fulfills his parents dreams by going to university. Isabel finds it hard to let him go, but she does, and speaks to him constantly. Felix is more reserved, their marriage is settled into middle-aged contentment, and things are good. Isabel has her two close friends, Jenny and Leah, and the three of them put the world to rights on their girlie nights out. But then Isabel can't get in touch with Johnny. He doesn't answer his phone, there is no word from him, and panic sets in. Johnny is 18 years old, an adult, and if he disappears - well, there isn't a great deal that anyone can do. Suddenly, the world comes crashing down for the Hopkins family.They have to consider their greatest fear - that something terrible has happened to Johnny, and that he is dead. Isabel refuses to believe that this could be so, she would KNOW if her son were dead. Isabel and Felix search frantically, enlisting the help of Johnny's friends, and finding that they really didn't know their son as well as they thought. Is it possible to love TOO much - to smother someone, to drive them to acts of desparation?
This is a very deep book in my opinion, quite uncomfortable at times, and giving plenty of food for thought. As a parent, we love our children, and want the best for them. This book shows that what WE think is best, isn't always what THEY think is best, and how hard it can be to live up to other people's expectations. It's a very good story, extremely well written, as you would expect from Nicci Gerrard, and I plan to read more of her solo work. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Though the storyline relates to a single missing person the title `Missing Persons' is plural, so reflecting a thrust to the narrative as a psychological study of how people react and the turmoil they experience when someone they are close to goes missing. In taking this approach author Nicci Gerrard perhaps strays outside her comfort zone as a thriller writer. `Missing Persons' is nicely written with well crafted characters but it comes across as somewhat pompous in exploring endlessly the feelings and emotions of those left in ignorance.

Nicci Gerrard's skills are evident via the manner in which she manages to write of the same things over and over with only minor nuances, but this slows the pace of her novel and diminishes its impact. `Missing Persons' may be a thought provoking treatise on missing persons but it does not make for a riveting read. Focus is on the traumas and self analysis of parents, siblings, friends etc. and not on the missing person and his whereabouts. After a short introduction to the missing person there are over 200 pages given to the mother, then shorter expositions by father and sister before returning to a final section on the missing person - but what is truly missing is any proper explanation of why he went missing or what he did whilst missing. As a novel `Missing Persons' lacks something and is only average - hence 3-star rating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This was a thought provoking read about the impact of a missing person on the people left behind. The book did feel a bit disjointed at times - due to both the emphasis on Isabel, mother of Johnny the missing person, more than other characters and due to the skipping forward in timeline later in the book when the time between key points in the story become more spread out. However, I think this does reflect the disjointed pieces of those left behind and the disconnected running of time as it passes waiting and longing for the missing to return.

The book is very character driven as opposed to plot driven. I'm not a regular reader of Nicci French or Nicci Gerrard books, but I imagine that this would be different than the psychological and crime thrillers that the Nicci French due produce. A good read, but a different approach.

The blurb on the cover does say that this is about what happens to those left behind when someone goes missing but I would have liked a little more about Johnny and his motivations. However, I think Nicci Gerrard does have a good balance overall.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Missing Persons is the story of a teenage boy who goes to university and then disappears leaving his family and fellow students baffled. This novel is not so much a whodunnit as a portrait of how the boy's disappearance effects his family. In a way this makes it a very trendy style of novel as that has been the theme of many recent TV dramas such as The Killing and Broadchurch. This is definitely not a thriller like the Nicci French novels, instead it is more of a character study. I found this an interesting book, although it is rather slow in parts. I enjoyed reading about the effect of the boy's disappearance on the different members of the family, although I found myself sympathising with some characters more than others. The mother is portrayed as being slighty annoying which does mean it is sometimes hard to sympathise with her. I think Missing Persons is worth reading, but don't expect a fast-paced thriller.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A nightmare book for anyone that can not get in touch with their son or daughter at University.

When I got offered the chance to get this book couldn't wait to read it, as have read quite a lot of the authors previous books in the past and thought I would be in for a good read. Of which I was.

A thrilling but highly emotional read by the great crime writing duo husband and wife. Well by one half of it. This is one which did not let me down in turns of emotion, what if's and just how will the Hopkins family cope. I am left feeling that a crime book done by the duo or an emotive book such as this done by just one half of the team both hit the same spot, just super reading.

Altogether a highly emotive book that tells the tale of Jonny who goes away to University but who for some reason does not want to be found by his family .... No spoilers but all I can say is that at times it is so emotive and compelling, especially when you start to feel for his family. At the very begining when Isobel, Jonny's mother sees the cat and remembers what her son said, well it had me nearly in tears. Being a mother myself and eldest away at Uni, and at times getting hold of her is difficult. Well I can see just where the ideas come from, a normal life event in many households, but the feelings the family goes through does make you feel so for them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Nicci Gerrard is one of half of the crime-writing duo "Nicci French", but don't approach this book expecting a crime thriller. This book isn't one. It's the story of the family of a young man called Jonny, who vanishes from university during his first term there. We see the effects his disappearance has on his mother, primary school teacher Isabel, his father, Felix, an academic, and his two sisters, Mia and Tamsin. The destructive effect on all their lives is heart-breaking to see, and Nicci Gerrard really does convey well the anguish of her characters as well as exploring issues of homelessness and missing persons, through these characters, as they search for Jonny and find out things about his life before he disappeared. I found this a gripping read, and by focussing on the family of the missing person, rather than the person themselves, Nicci Gerrard found a fresh perspective.
This is a thoughtful, thought-provoking and gripping book which I found hard to put down. Definitely a five star read for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Whenever I read a Nicci Gerrard novel I am gripped in a quite a different way than when I read a Nicci French. Here the focus is fully on the feelings of the central characters. There's little distraction from plot and there's the fear that there may never be an ending or a satisfactory explanation. Some of the most haunting scenes in this novel are set among the invisible ones, the people of the doorways and underpasses, the people from a different world. These are people who have vanished from the regular world, people whose families will not find them again, who may go on grieving for the children or the siblings they have lost. Nicci Gerrard expertly shifts the focus from the grief of the mother, to the grief of the father and then the grief and anger of the sister. Some of the best moments in the novel involve secondary characters, the friends, the mother-in-law and I think it is the variety of responses that makes this, for me, the best Nicci Gerrard so far. But then I probably think that every time!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having previously read two of the four currently known 'Freda Klein' thrillers and one other by the team of Nicci French, I was curious to read this book by Nicci Gerrard, one of the team's two contributors. Nicci Gerrard is a journalist for one of the UK's most serious newspapers and her writing partner, Sean French is currently also her life partner. My initial intent was to attempt to distinguish between the partners' individual contributions within the Nicci Gerrard books, assuming that it might be possible and using this as a key, but it is unclear and may vary from one book to another.

As the co-author of at least 15 Nicci French titles, Gerrard is a very experienced writer and it shows in this excellently written book which combines the imagination of a non-fiction author with the precision and attention to detail of a serious journalist. The writing is of very high quality and there are no obviously redundant sections that you may wish were omitted.

Although categorised by Amazon as 'Crime', it was not the thriller or suspense novel I had expected but is perhaps more correctly considered as 'General Fiction' as it is primarily concerned with issues of and within a family and familial relationships. In that respect, it was a disappointment as it failed to meet its given categorisation and consequent expectations, but I have had similar prior experiences as I tend to accept Amazon's descriptions. This may better suit some readers more than others.

Regardless of initial reactions, the book is an interesting and engaging read and a pleasant way to spend the several hours or days required to cover its almost 450 pages. It is a book that you may be reluctant to put down either briefly or overnight but its many chapters, each of moderate length, may make that more easily possible and convenient.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Every parents nightmare is when an offspring decides to go missing for no apparent reason, it's bad enough when you expect it but worse when it comes out of the blue. Johnny,a seemingly normal eighteen year old,goes missing soon after his parents Felix and Isabel drop him off at university, they can see no reason for his sudden decision to go A.W.O.L and try everything possible to find him ,his siblings Tamsin and Mia are also at a loss to comprehend his sudden decision to opt out society. After his friends ,parents and others finally accept that he is not to be found they gradually come to terms with the inevitability that the only way they will see him again is if he choses to return.
The book deals with the trauma and upset that occurs after his disappearance in a convincing and believable way and shows the upset it casuses to all those who care for him and the inevitable repercussions on their lives. It puts forward some interesting ideas why people do such things, and I think in this case self-worth not depression is the main issue at stake.The books shows that you can't go through life without upsetting a few people and there are certain circumstances where the best option is to "face the music" rather than hiding your head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away.
All in all a well written and thought provoking book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 5 December 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In spite of her happy marriage, comfortable house in rural Suffolk and successful teaching career, Isabel has not had an easy life. Her mother died when she was 9 and she is estranged from her cold brother; her two daughters have both been difficult. Only her middle child, her son Jonny, has been placid and good-tempered, if sometimes a little fearful. After taking him to university at the age of 18, she is devastated to learn a few weeks later that he has left, that no one knows where he is and that the stories he told them of his new friends and activities were fiction.

This is not a thriller about the unexplained disappearance of a teenage boy, but an examination of the effect of that disappearance on his family. The effects are a little stereotyped: Isabel is hysterical and irrational (as if refusing to eat or sleep is going to help in any way) while husband Felix tries to calm things down and impose some sort of order on the problem. How very banally binary male/female.

Gerrard's writing is clear and precise, often beautiful: there were times when I wished I was reading it on Kindle so that I could casually underline a well-chosen word or well-phrased thought. However, the story simply failed to engage me and I found it hard to care about the suffering of this family.
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