Manon Bradshaw is the central figure of these two books. A middle-aged, single, slightly-abrasive police officer, she made for a (mostly) likable and somewhat unusual heroine. It’s been a while since I read these two books – for some reason these reviews got skipped somewhere along the line – so bear with me if this is a bit more vague than usual. :-D
Both these books ranked as 3.5* reads for me. I really liked the multiple 3rd-person POV format. I liked Manon most of the time, and was in love with her younger colleague, Davy. The mysteries were decent and engaging and kept me turning the pages.
What I didn’t really like were the long sections devoted to Manon’s personal life. I wouldn’t have minded a bit of this, but in some sections is just kind of felt awkward, especially since there is a lot about sex, and how Manon wants it, and how she randomly sleeps with guys on first dates so she can “smell” if they’re going to be a potential match for her. (I feel like her smeller may be off since she’s single and 40, but then again maybe every single one of those guys really was a loser??) I just wasn’t interested in the nitty-gritty details of Manon’s love life, and felt like it didn’t really add anything to story. In my mind, that was definitely where things dragged.
At the end of the first book, Manon adopts a kid. And I’m wondering if originally Steiner wasn’t going to write a second book? Because Missing, Presumed kind of has a feeling of finality in its little epilogue. In many ways, I wish that is where the story stopped, because at the end of book one it sounds like everyone is going to finally be on their way to happiness… and then in book two we find out that no, not really.
Why? The main reason is because Manon is pregnant. However, she isn’t in any kind of relationship, so it’s all very vague and confusing. Steiner doesn’t bother to tell us how Manon ended up pregnant until about a third of the way into the book! So I had no idea how I was supposed to feel about this major event. Like Manon is happy to be pregnant, but was she happy to get pregnant? No idea. It felt completely unnecessary to keep me in the dark about this. Later, when I found out more details, it just left me feeling aggravated with Manon who really came through in this situation has being very self-centered.
Both of these books were kind of like that, just these really random scenarios where it might have been alright to have one weird thing going on, but having a bunch of them just made the whole book feel kind of weird. I’m not describing this very well because it’s been a month since I actually read these books, and all I’m left with are vague feelings haha
I felt like the second book was just weaker overall anyway. There were several things that were left kind of unanswered – red herrings that ended up not really making sense because there was no point/explanation.
Anyway, I really did enjoy them, and cautiously recommend them. There was a lot of humor and some interesting twists, and I liked the characters enough that I can definitely see myself reading a third book if it comes along.
I originally read about Missing, Presumed over at Reading, Writing and Riesling (Carol has a much more coherent review!). Fictionophile also has a great review of both Missing, Presumed and Persons Unknown, so be sure to check them out!