Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

Posted On 3 September 2019

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MissingPersonMissing Person was my third book by Sarah Lotz and I can’t deny that it was a book that I couldn’t wait to pick up.  This is an author who can really break out the goosebumps with her creepy horror.  That being said, this is a slight step away from that style.  I would suggest if you’re picking this one up having read the previous books maybe just adjust your expectations a little.  This is a much more subtle form of horror, the type that leaves you thinking – it could just happen.

This is a story of, no surprise, missing people.  The sort of story that is scary simply by the fact that these are people who have gone off, moved somewhere else, away from family or friends, for whatever reason and have been murdered – but nobody is aware of their disappearance,  They’ve simply gone, lying abandoned somewhere whilst life ticks on without their presence and if their bodies are found it’s unlikely that they will be ever be identified.  Just another John or Jane Doe.

Strangely enough Shaun Ryan has lived his life believing his uncle Teddy died in a car accident until he finds out that this was not true.  Families and secrets – Shaun’s family, following one of those arguments that feels difficult to come back from, sent Teddy away.  He went to America to make a fresh start and everyone was led to believe he’d passed away.  So Shaun goes in search of clues, dreaming of maybe visiting his uncle and even thinking it could be the start of something new for himself.  He posts the only picture he has of his uncle and starts asking questions that lead in an unexpected direction.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or back over the pond in the US, Christina Guzman runs a site called Missinglinc – this started as a hobby after her own mother went missing and she was desperate for information, any information, as to her whereabouts.  Her mom’s details are still posted on the site but to date no new information has been found.  The site however has gained support with new people joining in in the amaterur sleuthing and one of them has spotted Teddy’s picture and connected the dots to one of the cases on the Missinglinc forum.  Not good news for Shaun if this suspicion turns out to be correct, Teddy’s only just come back from the dead but it seems it was only a temporary respite.

Now, as the story goes along we meet a few more people, primarily Chris who runs the site and a couple of others who make active contributions. Ellie who has a bit of a history with Chris already and stopped taking part on the site when things went wrong, and a couple of other users – of most note – the murderer!  People are always claiming that the murderer returns to the scene of the crime but here he actively takes part in the chats about missing people to keep his finger on the pulse, see if he’s in any danger of being found out.

I love the way Sarah Lotz writes, she has a very appealing style and makes great characterisation and scene setting appear to be all too easy.  Add to that the epistolary format this is used quite a bit for parts of the story with text messages, newspaper articles and group chats – well, I make no mistake that this is a format that I really enjoy, sifting through the different bits and pieces to find out the underlying messages, and it’s used to excellent effect here.

The characters are what really make this story though, Shaun, Chris and Ellie are all given really good back stories and feel like every day, regular characters who make mistakes but keep on plugging away.  The inclusion of chapters from the murderer’s pov adds a sinister element to the story, particularly because you’re not 100% certain which online character he might be.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, this takes quite a while to lay the groundwork necessary, which isn’t to say it’s a slow read at all because it succeeded in hooking me in almost immediately, but it does take it’s time to get to know everybody – which, when all is said and done is something that I appreciate.  However, given the time that is taken in setting the scene and luring us into this spidery web of deceit the ending felt a little anti climatic and over all too soon.  The other thing that I would say, and this is more about personal taste than actual criticism, is that this doesn’t quite work as well for me as The White Road.  It’s a good read, it’s compelling, gripping in some parts and it certainly succeeds as a lifelike mystery story – but it didn’t give me the heebie jeebies or have that slight supernatural element that I was hoping for – which again is my bad really because I made my own assumptions going into the read.

However, if you want to read a compelling, character driven mystery that does kind of make you view the internet with a bit of trepidation and is a story that feels very ‘real’ then I would recommend this.  It’s not quite the horror that I was expecting but nonetheless it’s a very good read.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  the above is my own opinion.

Rating 3.5 of 5 stars


17 Responses to “Missing Person by Sarah Lotz”

  1. Tammy

    Not sure I would start with this, since I have yet to read one of her books. I know, shocking!!! It just seems completely different from her horror, which you have confirmed for me:-)

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    It’s always disappointing when our expectations, based on an author’s previous work, fall short of the real thing, but I’m glad for you that you still enjoyed the story 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s a good book tbh and one that I would be curious to know exactly what my thoughts would have been if this was my first read by this author – it does make such a difference to our expectations.
      Lynn 😀

  3. waytoofantasy

    Hmm, subtle horror, I like the sound of that, but probably wouldn’t start with this one on your recommendation.

    • @lynnsbooks

      The White Road – it was so good, although I’m not sure if it would be your type of book or not, I loved it. The tension, the other world experiences all coupled with events that were really tough anyway. People driving themselves to extremes and taking part in events in terrible weather. It was so well done I was on the edge of my seat.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I agree that the groundwork took a while to build, and it just wasn’t quite the pace I was used to when it comes to Lotz. But this being a mystery instead of horror, I guess that was why she needed to change her style, but yeah I prefer stuff closer to The White Road or The Three.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, this was good, it was well written and the characters were great – but, it just wasn’t The White Road good. Still a decent mystery but the ending was a bit rushed for me.
      Lynn 😀

  5. sjhigbee

    Ah… what a shame! I know only too well when you dive into a book, thrilled with a previous effort by the same author, to find that this one simply doesn’t chime with you in the same way. A great review – you’ve been at pains to make it very clear that one of your biggest problems with this one was your prior expectations.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, this is a good book to be honest, really good in fact – I think just because I was expecting chills and this is more a mystery – which makes me feel bad for not loving it as much because it’s a different style of book and well done – like you said, it’s about expectations, mine were wrong going into this and so although I thought it was a good read it left me feeling a bit let down because it wasn’t tense and creepy. I would definitely recommend this book as a mystery though – it competes really well with others imo.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        Thank you for that! And that makes if far more likely I’ll go looking for this one, given what a wuss I am about thrillers and general creepiness:)

  6. confessionsofayareader

    Great review! I tend to be a lot more freaked out by books that are realistic in their horror. The ones that have me saying “that can really happen” vs the shock horror types. I pretty much love anything with a mystery though.

    • @lynnsbooks

      This is a great mystery by a really good author. I loved the style with the inclusion of group chats and texts because you get to see the duplicity and yes, this could definitely be considered very realistic.
      Lynn 😀

      • confessionsofayareader

        That’s really cool. I’m not sure that I’ve heard of the author or not (hard to remember all of them). I’m glad you enjoy all the books.

  7. Best of the Best list : 2019 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Missing Person by Sarah Lotz […]

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