Publication Date: 9/3/2019
Rating: 4 / 5
I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Mulholland Books and Netgalley!
MISSING PERSON by Sarah Lotz begins with Shaun Ryan, an introvert Irish bookseller. Shaun has always believed that his uncle Teddy died in a car accident before he was born, but he’s recently discovered that this wasn’t true. Teddy was gay and fled from his conservative family and county to move to New York. Shaun sets out to find him, but has no luck. His disfunctional family urges Shaun to stop looking, but Shaun doesn’t undersand why.
Chris Guzman is the woman who runs a website dedicated to matching missing persons cases with unidentified bodies. With a group of dedicated members, they use crowd sourcing and computer technologies to help find information missed in formal investigations. Her team has seen Teddy’s picture and thinks they’ve found a match. They believe that Teddy is the young man whose body was found years before, the case known as the “Boy in the Dress”. With the assistance of the website members, they begin to investigate to determine how Teddy wound up dead in Wisconsin wearing a dress.
The concept of crowd sourcing investigations fascinates me and it is what initially drew me to this book. I haven’t read any of Sarah Lotz’s books before (though I do have one sitting on my shelves waiting for me to pick it up). The book is written in chapters that alternate POV between Shaun, Chris and a couple other key website members, each chapter labeled with the screenname of the character. Text messages and snapchat conversations are interspersed with the narrative as well.
This is in some ways a difficult book to characterize. The best match for me would be mystery. Though you know some aspects going in, the story revolves around explaining the whys. Why exactly did Teddy leave town, why exactly did he wind up in Wisconsin, why exactly was he found wearing a dress. For me this didn’t have the fast-pace that I would expect to label it a thriller, but there was enough suspense built up to keep me hooked on the story.
It was interesting looking at this book as a character study of online personalities, especially since we all meet people in our bookish life that we only know online. The book draws attention to online bullying and the dangers of crowd sourcing. When the group feels that someone is to blame, there can be a lot of backlash and the target feels the pressure, deserved or not. The members of the forum also can’t all be trusted. Are these people all there to help or might some be there to hinder.
If you are looking for a good mystery with a very interesting premise, this is a book you’ll want to check out when it is released on September 3, 2019!