Sunday, September 18, 2022

REview: Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton

by Fiona Barton
Release Date: June 14, 2022
2022 Berkley Books
Kindle Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-1984803047
Audiobook: B09VMF28ZT
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher
2 / 5 Stars
Elise King is a successful and ambitious detective--or she was before a medical leave left her unsure if she'd ever return to work. She now spends most days watching the growing tensions in her small seaside town of Ebbing--the weekenders renovating old bungalows into luxury homes, and the locals resentful of the changes.

The conflicts boil over when a newcomer wants to put the town on the map with a giant music festival, and two teenagers overdose on drugs. When a man disappears the first night of the festival, Elise is drawn back into her detective work and starts digging for answers. Ebbing is a small town, but it's full of secrets and hidden connections that run deeper and darker than Elise could have ever imagined.
My Thoughts
Local Gone Missing is one of those books that had all the elements of a good story, but unfortunately, totally missed the mark. Introducing a new character, DI Elise King, is always interesting, especially one who is coming back from a cancer diagnosis that completely derailed her career, and it sounds like the author is feeling her way forward for this character to become a series regular.  However, I felt like the author didn't quite know the direction in which she wanted to take the character, or the story, which left it feeling like a hodgepodge of different styles and characters who lacked development as well as interesting quirks which often can make or break a book.  
The plot had me wondering exactly what style the author was trying to achieve in this book. To be fair, I actually did enjoy some of the elements in the first half of the book as they had a more cozy mystery feel to them as the characters were introduced and we got to see the inside of some of the homes through the eyes of Elise as well as the housekeeper, Dee. However, the switch to a more procedural novel was jarring and while I appreciated what the author was trying to do, it didn't work for me and left me frustrated as solutions were due to coincidences and I find it to be a cop out when an author tends to overuse coincidence as a solution to problems when they can't come up with anything else.   

Except for Elise and maybe a a couple of other characters, I did not find any of the other characters likeable, at all.  I did develop a fondness for Elise's nosy neighbour just because she actually had some depth to her, while the others were pretty one-dimensional and forgettable.  It's only been a month since I've read this book and I had to refer to my notes to remember most of the characters which gives you any idea of the impression they made on me.  To be honest, I was hoping the annoying wife would be the one to disappear so I didn't have to read another conversation with her.

Local Gone Missing was disappointing, with a messy plot and annoying characters that were left undeveloped so you didn't even get to appreciate their quirks.  Personally, I don't think the back and forth timelines helped the plot as it just added to the confusion, making a book that had a mixture of styles to begin with even more confusing.  The author did manage to tie in a lot of subplots, but had to use coincidence a lot as a tool for doing so, not something I really like, but at least it had an ending that was satisfying.  I did like Elise and thought her story line was interesting, and I loved her neighbour. I, personally, can't recommend this book, but there were a lot of people who did enjoy it, so you may like it more than I did.