The Missing Hours, by Emma Kavanagh

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Emma Kavanagh, UK Random House, and Century for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review.

Kavanagh offers an interesting perspective in this mystery novel, pulling the reader in from the opening vignette. After the mysterious disappearance of Selena Cole from a park while out with her young daughters, the case is assigned to DC Leah Mackay, still working out the wrinkles of the position and processing some personal issues of her own. The more DC Mackay digs, the more confusing things become, as there are no clues or leads. Once DC Mackay learns that Cole and her recently deceased husband ran a ‘Kidnap and Ransom’ business, finding themselves jet-setting all over the world to handle highly controversial cases in dangerous domains, sinister potential motives surrounding retribution begin circulating. While Cole remains missing, the body of a solicitor surfaces, leaving authorities to wonder if there could be a connection. Assigning DS Finn Hale to the murder, the narrative advances as he tries to get a handle on what’s taken place and who might be on the list of prime suspects. With relationship issues central to the murder, Hale seeks to put the pieces together and solve the case before things unravel. Kavanagh spins an added layer to the story by revealing that Hale and Mackay are siblings, working together but independently on these cases. The deeper the story progresses (complete with case summaries from the Cole company’s various files), the stronger the possibility that the murder and disappearance might be related, with an employee whose life touches into the spheres of both victims. When Selena Cole does return, as mysteriously as she left, she remembers nothing about her time away, or what may have happened. DC Mackay seeks to bridge these missing hours, as questions about retribution for a past kidnapping begin to surface, with DS Hale close-by to connect the dots. Kavanagh leaves the reader to discover even more mysteries while positing how it all ties in together in a story that has more twists than a kidnapping retrieval attempt. An interesting tale, complete with curious personal background drama, sure to leave readers demanding more from this author.

This being my first experience with Kavanagh’s work, I can only judge her abilities based on this book. With short chapters and characters that offer a little of themselves away from their roles in the larger narrative, the reader is able to understand the complexities of those who appear on the written page, without getting too wrapped up in the backstory. In addition to the narrative at hand, use of ‘case file’ documents helps to flesh-out the story and builds on the development of the rationale behind the Selena Cole disappearance. I would venture to say that Kavanagh’s novel would fall short without these more detailed glimpses into the Kidnap and Ransom background. Kavanagh is able to weave a productive story and keep the reader wondering as the chapters continue, without getting mired down in technical explanations. She succeeds in selling the story and the genre, as well as her vast abilities. 

Kudos, Madam Kavanagh for allowing me access to this wonderful story. I am intrigued in your writing style and can see myself looking for more in the months to come.