Book review: Missing Person

Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Missing Person is, perhaps not surprisingly, a story about loss. But it’s also a story about friendship, moving forward, a mystery (naturally) and a murder (or two).

Shaun Ryan, a young man working at a small bookstore in the Irish town of Wicklow, has been told that his uncle, Teddy Ryan, died in a car accident. Always skeptical, he learns the truth as the story begins–his openly gay uncle was effectively driven out of Ireland by his conservative family in 1996, and fled to New York. He has not been seen since. He begins to search for his uncle, thinking he may still be alive.

Into this comes, an amateur site dedicated to UIDs (Unidentified bodies) and a report of a murder victim found in the U.S. who might be Shaun’s uncle. The victim is found wearing a prom dress.

From there the story hops back and forth between the members of, their lives, and their investigation into the cold case of Teddy Ryan’s murder.

Lotz often writes in epistolary and does so here to good effect, showing the personalities of the various amateur investigators through their forum posts, instant messaging and Skype chats. Shaun Ryan slowly gets pulled into the investigation and the group moves toward cracking the case, unaware that the killer of Teddy Ryan is still around–and very close.

Lotz juggles the cast well, slowly cranking the tension as it is revealed to the reader that one of the members of is, in fact, a killer, and one whom the group is at risk of exposing. While the story races to a showdown of sorts, the journey to that point is the meat of the tale, illustrating how the work of digging up the past can have consequences in the present.


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