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Book Review: Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner

A darker, more addictive read, Susie Steiner’s brilliantly written Manon Bradshaw series gets personal when a murder case threatens characters and relationships so well established in Missing, Presumed, which I reviewed here.

As dusk falls a young man staggers through a park, far from home, bleeding heavily from a stab wound. He dies where he falls; cradled by a stranger, a woman’s name on his lips in his last seconds of life.

DI Manon Bradshaw can’t help taking an interest – these days she only handles cold cases, but the man died just yards from the police station where she works.

She’s horrified to discover that both victim and prime suspect are more closely linked to her than she could have imagined. And as the Cambridgeshire police force closes ranks against her, she is forced to contemplate the unthinkable.

How well does she know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?

Detective Manon Bradshaw returns and happily for this reader, despite having spent some of the intervening time since Missing, Presumed with the Met Police in London, she is back with the Cambridgeshire squad for its sequel, Persons Unknown.

While Manon retains the qualities which made me completely fall for her as a character in the first book, she’s also experiencing changes both in her personal life and her position on the force. This development is something which I really rate because it gives a sense of the characters’ lives progressing and carrying on… whether or not the reader is there to witness it happening! And this in turn makes them feel more real to me, in much the same way as Susie Steiner showing us the police not only working an investigation but also in their downtime, does.

In Missing, Presumed, Susie Steiner built up a relatable team of Cambridgeshire detectives around her female lead, Manon Bradshaw, in the first of a character-driven contemporary crime series that made for compulsive reading. In its sequel, Persons, Unknown, she shows us where the cracks are in their relationships when a murder inquiry goes to the heart of their team and secrets, prejudice, bias and suspicion rear their ugly heads as everyone including the reader is forced to reassess what they thought they knew about people, and the lengths to which some will go to protect what’s important to them, often at the expense of others.

If Missing, Presumed created Manon Bradshaw’s world, then in Persons Unknown it is under attack and at risk of collapsing around her, taking her and/or her sanity down with it. Reading Persons Unknown feels akin to wading through sand dunes where the ground keeps falling away beneath you and you doubt you’ll ever reach the top from where, if you could only get to there, you know you’d get a clear view. This sense of everything I knew from Persons, Unknown crumbling only made me root even harder for Manon to come through it all and I was desperate for her not to be suspended or fired or hurt or injured or worse.

This addictive series, like Manon Bradshaw, only grows in strength and depth and I am now completely hooked and invested in her and her world. More please, Susie Steiner.

Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner is published by Borough Press, an imprint of Harper Collins. It is out today and is available as an audiobook and ebook and in hardback. You can find it at Amazon UK, Audible UK, Foyles, Hive (supporting your local independent bookshop), Waterstones and Wordery. For more on the author and her books, check out her Author Website or you can find her on Twitter

Thank you to Lovereading UK and the publisher for providing me with a review copy. A slightly shorter version of this review first appeared on the Lovereading UK site here.

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