Thursday 23 January 2020

Alice Teale Is Missing by H A Linskey @HowardLinskey BLOG TOUR @PenguinUKBooks @sriya__v #AliceTealeIsMissing

Alice Teale walked out of school at the end of a bright spring day.

She's not been seen since.

Alice was popular and well-liked, and her boyfriend, friends and family are desperate to find her.

But soon it's clear that everyone in her life has something to hide.

Then the police receive a disturbing package.

Pages from Alice's precious diary.

Who could have sent them? And what have they done with Alice?

Alice Teale is Missing by HA Linskey is published today, 23 January 2020 by Penguin. The digital edition was published in November last year. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited to take part on this Blog Tour.  I'm delighted to start the tour off and share my review today.

I was brought up in a very small Northern village, and I now live in a small Northern market town. The common cry in both of these places is 'nothing happens here' .... and, on the surface and compared to a metropolitan city, or a seaside resort, they do appear to quiet and peaceful.

Appearances can be deceiving, for under the surface there's so much going on. Everyone knows everyone, and their descendants and their history. When relationships break down; everyone is aware, when someone finds a new lover; it's whispered about in most houses.

That's what Collemby is like. Large enough to house a school, and a few run-down shops, many of them standing empty, but small enough that things don't go unnoticed.

Alice Teale and her family are well known in Collemby. Alice is deputy head girl, popular with the boys, and has been part of a love triangle fairly recently. She's studious, with plans to go to University. She has her close friends and she gets on well with her older brother.
Alice has disappeared. She was seen leaving Collemby Comprehensive, wearing her distinctive 'Oasis' parka jacket but nobody has seen or heard from her since.

DS Lucas Black and DC Beth Black are assigned to investigate. Lucas will be in charge. Beth is new to the job, fast-tracked through the system. She's anxious about the case, but is more worried about what she's heard about Lucas Black if she's honest.

What an absolutely wonderful pair of characters these are. The beauty of having two lead players that don't already know each other is that the author can cleverly introduce them to the reader, at the same time as they learn about each other. I like that, it worked really well.

You could say it's all been done before; the missing girl; the police officers with baggage. You'd be right, it has, many times. However Alice Teale Is Missing is so much more than your standard police procedural case. It's an intense and authentic depiction of small-town life; the characters; the pubs; the often dysfunctional families, hiding behind their shiny front doors. The scenes in the pub were excellent, the author creates an almost stifling atmosphere ... you can almost hear the suspicion from the locals as Beth and Lucas walk in.

The mystery at the heart of the story is intriguing and takes the reader along many twisting paths. The inclusion of snippets from Alice's secret diary; sent anonymously to the police throughout the investigations is especially clever; giving both the reader and the police an insight into a side of Alice that few people have seen.

I had my suspects throughout the story and whilst I was on the right track, I had no idea what possible motive or reasoning could make anyone want to make Alice disappear. The final reveal is startling and whilst emotionally shocking, it's very sensitively handled indeed.

I'd love to think that this is the beginning of a new series. I'd certainly enjoy reading more about Beth and Lucas, the author teases the reader with hints from their back stories, and I want to know more! 

With a fairly slow start, that gently eases you into the story, the pace soon fires up. Compelling and brilliantly created characters in a realistic but claustrophobic setting and a mystery that keeps you on your toes. 
Alice Teale Is Missing kept me reading until the early hours; it's tense, gripping, intelligent crime fiction.

H. A. Linskey is originally from Ferryhill in County Durham, but now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and daughter. 
Under Howard Linskey, he is the author of a series of crime novels set in the North-East, featuring detective Ian Bradshaw and journalists Tom Carney and Helen Norton.

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