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

 

WeeklyWrap Up : 18th August 2019

My week has been very positive.  Lots of keeping in touch with everyone and actually a very good reading week too.  I have a few reviews lined up although it actually never looks or feels as though I’m really catching up.  Two steps forward, three steps back.  LOL.  But, I’m not stressed – I’ve got so many good books coming up on my schedule that I’m positively delirious with joy.  So, this is what I’ve been reading this week (as well as making some progress with my SPFBO books):

My books:

  1. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
  2. Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan
  3. Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

Next scheduled reads:

  1. The House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark
  2. Brightfall Jaime Lee Moyer
  3. The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang

Upcoming reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenslayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
  4. Cry Havoc by Mike Morris
  5. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
  6. Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan
  7. Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Missing Person by Sarah Lotz.  I so enjoy Sarah Lotz books so I’m super excited to have spotted this one.

Reclusive Irish bookseller Shaun Ryan has always believed that his older brother, Teddy, died in a car accident. It’s only on his mother’s deathbed that he learns the truth: Teddy, who was gay, fled the Catholic, deeply conservative County Wicklow for New York decades earlier. Shaun finds no sign of him in New York or anywhere else–until he comes across the unsolved murder of a John Doe whose description matches Teddy’s.

Desperate for information, Shaun tracks down Chris Guzman, a woman who runs a website dedicated to matching missing persons cases with unidentified bodies. Through Chris’s site, a group of online cold case fanatics connect Teddy with the notorious “Boy in the Dress” murder, believed to be one of many committed by a serial killer targeting gay men.

But who are these cold case fanatics, and how do they know so much about a case that left the police and the FBI stumped? With investigators, amateurs, and one sadistic killer on a collision course, Missing Person is Sarah Lotz at her most thrilling and terrifying.

The White Road by Sarah Lotz

Posted On 29 May 2017

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The White Road is the second book that I’ve read by Sarah Lotz and has definitely cemented her on my list of authors I will automatically pick up.  She has a knack for writing the sort of things that just give you the plain old creeps.  A wonderful way of wording things that make your skin prickle and give you the feeling that you’re being watched.  I simply loved this book.

At the start of the story we meet Simon Newman as he embarks on a journey through the notorious Cwm Pot caves.  Simon and his friend Thierry run a blog called ‘Journey to the Dark Side’ and in a desperate attempt to gain more traffic and turn the site into a going concern they’ve come up with a plan to go filming inside caverns that have been closed to the public following a tragic accident involving flash flooding. The TLDR is that things go wrong but the footage Simon manages to take turns the blog viral and Thierry comes up with a new plan for the next venture.  Everest.  Basically the two are taking footage of the dead and Everest is a perfect opportunity.  Not the nicest or most sensitive way to go about things but the two think they’ve hit on something and they’re not going to let morals or feelings of sensitivity get in the way.

Basically, if I hadn’t already read Miss Lotz I might have hesitated about picking this up as caving and climbing are not my usual type of read but I found this absolutely fascinating and I don’t know whether that’s down to the level of detail and descriptions or the element of fantasy realism that accompanies the adventures.  The story uses a strange phenomena now known as ‘the third man’ factor.  Shackleton was the first explorer to mention a feeling he had of being accompanied when in situations of extreme hardship and following his revelation other adventurers came forward to relate their own similar experiences.  The third man became immortalised in a poem by T S Eliot and Lotz has taken this idea and given it a dark and ghostly twist.

I won’t delve any further into the plot but let you find your own path.

What did I love about this?  Primarily it boils down to the writing.  I have no idea about caving or climbing so how well researched or believable either of these two tales are is unknown to me – but, whilst I might not know all the hard facts what I can say is that the story comes across, without doubt, as plausible and well constructed.  The first part of the story where Simon is caving – I didn’t want to leave that story at all, it was so intense I could have kept on reading – and this isn’t the primary focus of the story.  It was packed with drama and tension.  The darkness, the claustrophobia, the fear – they’re palpable.  Reading it made me scared and I was sat on a comfy chair in the living room.

Then we move onto Simon joining a team of climbers making an attempt on Everest.  Like I did, you may be thinking ‘no way would he get away with that’ – and why would he even try.  It’s dangerous enough for highly trained and experienced climbers let alone relative newbies who stopped climbing after one fall.  But again, Lotz pulls this off.  She creates a brooding atmosphere that is so believable that you’re sat on the edge of your seat reading, barely able to put the book down.  The cold, the fear, the hunger, the frost bite, the extreme exhaustion, the struggle to breath at high altitude.  Reading this certainly gives you this whole new sense of wonder and respect really for those who undertake it and Simon certainly doesn’t get off lightly in fact he pretty soon comes to realise just how much in over his head he really is as each day becomes a fight to survive.

In terms of characters – the main character is Simon.  He’s not a bad guy really.  Okay, he’s made some choices that might not be totally endearing and he’s currently climbing up a mountain with a group of people who he has lied through his teeth to.  But, I didn’t find that I disliked him.  More I felt sorry for him because he seemed unable to step away from his choices even as he was making things worse.  The climbing team is only thinly sketched really, apart from one character who shares a little page space sharing with the readers similar experiences to those that Simon is going through.  Simon does steal the show but it was interesting to read the other POV.  Then we have Ed – Simon’s original guide down through the caves.  Oh dear – what an unusual, weird and incredibly creepy guy.  Well, I say that, but maybe he was just a little unhinged.  One thing for sure – I would not have wanted him as my guide.  In point of fact Simon wasn’t overly keen on the idea but again his inability to step away, make excuses or simply say no stepped in.

Now lets talk about the whole ‘realism’ aspect of the story.  The whole issue of whether Simon is being accompanied by an ‘other’.  An apparition or maybe an hallucination caused by trauma?  What Lotz manages to do is manipulate your own fears in an expert way.  Whether you believe there is something sinister stalking Simon or whether there’s a scientific explanation underlying it all what is really clear is that his story is scary, its gripping and it will hold you until the end of the book where you’ll actually find yourself wanting more.

Okay, that’s it for me.  I had no criticisms for this at all – or at least nothing that springs to mind immediately.  I thoroughly enjoyed this, it surpassed my expectations and has pretty much cemented Lotz on my ‘go to’ list of authors.

I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher.  The above is my own opinion.

“Who is the third who walks always beside you? 
When I count, there are only you and I together. 
But when I look ahead up the white road, 
there is always another one walking beside you”  T S Eliot, The Wasteland

Friday Firsts: The White Road by Sarah Lotz

FridayFirsts
Friday Firsts
 is a new meme that runs every Friday over on Tenacious Reader. The idea is to feature the first few sentences/paragraph of your current book and try and outline your first impressions as a result. This is a quick and easy way to share a snippet of information about your current read and to perhaps tempt others.  Stop on by and link up with Tenacious Reader.    This Friday I’m reading : The White Road by Sarah Lotz.

whiteroadHi T.

No easy way to say this, but I’m going back to Tibet.  Yeah.  Back to the mountain, though I swore I never would, remember?  Leave for Heathrow in 5.  How’s that for casually dropping a bombshell?  I’ve tried everything else, T, and going back is the only way.  Got to the point where it’s this or a padded cell.

If I don’t make it home, there’s a dropbox file you should check out.  Sounds ominous, I know, like I’ve gone full B-movie: If you’re reading this then I’m already dead…. Password is ‘fingersinyrheart06’.  Anyway, read it.  Or not.  Up to you.  Do whatever you want with it.  Just needed to tell the truth.  Put the record straight, you know?

Farewell and adieu, mate.

Aka

So long, and thanks for all the fish.  Si

 

My First Impressions

Wow, what an excellent start.  Yes, I was anxious to read on.  I’ve read Sarah Lotz before and she’s very good.  This book just really appealed to me and the start really struck a chord.  I like books that start like this I must admit.  And, yes, I’ve read on – I can barely put this down and even when I do it’s still on my mind.

What you reading this Friday??  What are your first impressions??

*The above excerpt was taken from an advanced reader copy and it is possible that the final version may have further changes.
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