She’s Missing, by K.E. Heaton

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to K.E. Heaton for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

There is nothing like the rivalry of two siblings, particularly sisters who are always trying to outdo one another. In this quasi-thriller by K.E. Heaton, the sibling rivalry is like no other, with a decades-long mystery to add a little intrigue to the tale. Susie and Sally Fraser never much liked one another, spurned on by always trying to succeed and leave the other to fail. As the older sister, Susie carved out her niche and laid the groundwork for being the ‘good daughter’, while Sally was hopelessly left to fill shoes she could never fit. Sally became a tad more devious and, even at sixteen, was well on her way to wreaking havoc for her sister. After a night with the town’s rich boy, Susie has a blackout experience and is left unsure what might have happened. Keen to capitalise on this, Sally holds it over her sister and takes every opportunity to cause a stir. Sally seeks nothing if not to ruin her sister’s life and takes things to a whole new level. Seducing Susie’s husband and agreeing to a night of her own with playboy Tom Smith, Sally creates quite the reputation for herself. Sally disappears after her night with Tom, leaving no trace of where she might have gone. The police are called in to help with the missing person report and, using their 1976 technology, work the scene as best they can. Oddly enough, another young woman goes missing that same night, leaving some to wonder if a spree killer or kidnapper might have targeted this bucolic English town. As time passes, three suspects remains on the list for the police: an abusive father, Susie’s easily seduced husband, and the aforementioned Tom Smith. Months turn to years and the case goes from tepid to cold. However, Susie is forever curious and when an ex-cop knocks on her door four decades later, he has quite the story to tell. Whatever happened to Sally Fraser is sure to cause a stir, though the truth might be more than anyone expected. A great piece by Heaton that kept me turning pages and devouring it well into the night. Recommended to those who need a quick read with plenty of twists, as well as the reader looking for a mystery full of suspects with plenty of motive.

When the author reached out to me, I was not sure what to expect. I have had some success with peddled books, though there have also been some real doozies. Thankfully, K.E. Heaton’s piece was well-crafted and kept me wanting to learn more. The presumptive protagonist, Susie Fraser, is one whose character development begins from the opening pages. With a peppering of backstory, the reader learns about the struggles this elder sister had with Sally. Trying to forge a reputation all her own, Susie is stuck trying to cover-up the foibles Sally places before her, true for any rebellious younger sibling. Weaving quite the web for herself, Susie proves to be less than innocent, but steers clear of anything too outrageous. As the years pass, her curiosity surrounding Sally’s disappearance dissipates, but when the knock comes with news, she is is keen to find a final resolution to the entire drama. A number of other characters prove to be well placed throughout the story and offer their own influence on their quick paced quasi-thriller. The three aforementioned men who become suspects have ample reason to want Sally out of the way, though it will be up to the reader to determine which of them has the deadliest motive. I told a friend of mine about this book and could only call it a ‘tarty soap opera’, as Heaton creates something of this nature in the first half of the book. Between the competitive sexual escapades between the Fraser girls and others who dabble simply to get their own thrills, I was not sure how things would progress. In hindsight, I could see that Heaton was paving the way for the disappearance and motives to best explain why Sally Fraser might need to be made to disappear. The story was strong and flowed well, with chapters that left me wanting to read a little more. While things were going so well, I will admit that the book was a minefield of grammatical and typographical errors that, as a self-appointed Sheriff of the Grammar Police, left me wincing and has cost this review one full star. I cannot stomach poorly edited work, as it shows a great disrespect for the reader. While I would read more of K.E. Heaton’s work, I will need a formal disclaimer that his editor has been sacked and a new one found, properly vetted.

Kudos, Mr. Heaton, for a successful journey into the world of crime thrillers. Now then, use the profits you make and find an editor who will give your work the attention it deserves.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: