Little Comfort, the debut novel from Edwin Hill received much critical acclaim, heralding a new talent on the crime fiction scene. With the release of the follow, The Missing Ones, Hill confirms that this was no fluke and readers should prepare for a long run of novels from this emerging talent.
While technically, The Missing Ones can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone, there is no doubt that the experience works best when paired with Little Comfort. Some elements of that earlier book have to be discussed in detail in order to connect them to actions within the current novel.
When last readers saw Hester Thursby, she was not in the best place emotionally and this only gets worse as The Missing Ones opens. No doubt, Hester is dealing with some undiagnosed post-traumatic stress symptoms and her focus now is on keeping Kate safe. This means that Hester sees danger in every corner, even when life should be on an even keel. Fans will remember that Kate is the daughter of Hester’s best friend Daphne, who dropped her off before disappearing into the wind. The mystery behind Daphne’s disappearance is addressed in The Missing Ones, with some answers being provided, even as Edwin Hill masterfully extends the enigmatic truth for the reader.
Just as in Little Comfort, there is a case that Hester finds herself entangled within. The one at the center of The Missing Ones deals with some odd disappearances on Finisterre Island off the coast of Maine. First a young boy disappears only to be found safe a short while later, then a few months later the pattern seems to be repeating itself. Edwin Hill introduces a whole new cast of characters with these island residents, but several familiar faces also play a role in the novel. Edwin Hill’s ability to manifest a cast of characters readers long to return to will remind crime fiction fans of the works of Louise Penny and Ann Cleeves. Not only is Hester Thursby one of the most unique main characters in our genre, but every single individual – regardless of how minor their role – is brought to life with authentic detail, leaving readers hoping to run into them on the streets.
This is an author who refuses to let his novels play out in expected ways. The Missing Ones incorporates enough subplots to fill an encyclopedia. Not only do we have the missing persons case(s), but there is also a disastrous storm bearing down on the island, several extremely complex relationship dynamics that clash with each other, and the horrific opioid crisis that plagues our country refuses to leave this isolated location unscathed. How these plots feed each other is part of the magic of The Missing Ones and readers interested in novel structures will find much to admire here.
Readers will race through The Missing Ones in order to discover the truth concerning the strange goings-on across Finisterre Island, but slowing down a moment to appreciate this author’s gift for words and sentence structure would be richly rewarded. As genre fans expect, most of the questions are answered by the conclusion, but these complex characters will not release their hold on reader’s imaginations and Edwin Hill provides just enough open threads to guarantee fans will be back for the next book in this wonderful series.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.