Review: Missing, Presumed (DS Manon, #1) by Susan Steiner



The Borough Press | 2016

Filed Under: Bridget Jones’ Murder Diary

If you’ve ever thought to yourself “what would Bridget Jones be like as a homicide detective?” then you’ll want to read this book.

I myself have never wondered about Bridget Jones taking on different career paths, (really she does enough of that in her own stories,) but now that I have some idea of what a “DS Jones” would look like, I’ll tell you, it doesn’t work.

Missing, Presumed is the first book in the DS Manon Bradshow series – a UK police procedural revolving around the disappearance of the twenty-something daughter of a prominent doctor.

Overall I found this to be severely lacking on the police procedural part and overwrought on the personal “character-study” side, like to such an annoying degree that I’m physically disappointed by this book. And also fucking exhausted.

It’s certainly not what it was presented to be on the jacket or in the blurbs.

This “anecdotal, emotional personal story-time” style of writing is likely why the author draws comparisons to Tana French, but I’ve read Tana French and this is in no way as poignant, complex or relevant in its attempts to create emotionally stirring connections to the prominent character POVs.

To me, there was a massive disconnect between the “main” plot and the endless pages covering family stories and relationship issues and personal whining and blah blah blah, none of which progressed the story or its themes.

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Perhaps it wasn’t supposed to, perhaps it was supposed to create more vibrant, robust characters?

Really all it did was highlight how booooooring most of them were. Nothing is particularly exciting about a detective with typical relationship issues, made even more uninteresting by the fact that we don’t know the secondary character in the relationship.

The missing girl’s mother had a lot of POV chapters – A LOT – and she was mind-numbingly dull. She spent most of her time fretting and worrying which you read about again and again, without any forward motion in the plot. Then there was all the reminiscing about family events and past conversations she had which had nothing to do with the conclusion.

If secondary characters like that aren’t going to appear in future novels I don’t know why I have to spend so much time learning about things that ultimately don’t matter.

The main character, though, DS Manon, was the. fucking. WORST.

She is a 39-year-old woman who spends 90% of the novel being an insane girlfriend and crying about her empty, dying uterus.

She was Bridget Jones without the humour or the joyful absurdity. This particular plot environment doesn’t give the space for an immature, neurotic character to be those things in a way that isn’t fucking annoying. And I did not like her one bit.

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After finding a guy she likes, Manon turns into the stalker girlfriend trope. Pressuring him with those stereotypical questions like “where is this going?” after only two weeks, and she apparently, at almost forty years old, can’t find the inner strength or self-control to shut the fuck up. And when she becomes too overbearing and the dude breaks up with her, she sends those texts. You know the ones:

Let’s talk. We shouldn’t leave things that way.

I’m sorry for how I acted. Give me another chance.

Oh, so you’re just not going to talk to me?

That’s fine, you had a small dick anyway.

You stupid motherfucker cocksucker! I hate you!

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.

Please don’t leave me. 

I’m not even kidding. This is what she sends to a grown man with a career and a mortgage and shit.

I felt like someone had found the text messages I had sent to an ex-boyfriend when I was seventeen. I didn’t like sending them then. I didn’t like being reminded of it any time after that. Honestly, it’s just like please don’t mention it. We should all be growing out of this shit. Seriously, thank Thor I’m married now.

I couldn’t even with a story where a grown-ass woman is still sending messages like that when she’s supposed to be finding a missing person and focusing on her serious, life-or-death job.

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It just didn’t work for me. It all felt… off. A total misfire when matching tone and behaviour and plot and characters. It’s one thing for the main character to be having relationship issues – if done correctly it can add a whole new layer of drama – but it’s something else entirely for a character, who’s supposed to be in charge and capable, to act like a fucking immature baby. Manon was embarrassing and painful to read.

The main character completely missed the mark and therefore the whole book suffered. The unimportant, superfluous personal details of everyone else, which didn’t evolve their storylines or character into anything dynamic, dragged it down even more.

The only reason I kept reading this through the endless pages of things that didn’t matter was to find out how the mystery wrapped up. But then this book did the one thing that I can’t stand with mystery novels: some random detail was thrown in at the end so that everything could be tied up in a perfect Martha Stewart bow. But, there was no lead-up to this brand new information at any other point in the book.

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This leaves me, as a reader, completely unsatisfied because there was literally no way for me to figure this out or play along.

Not the mention, the missing person, Edith, was just as annoying and immature as Manon. But also dumb. The wrap-up to the case left me feeling kind of angry as if the entirety of my reading time had been a giant waste. I have so many other books to read!

Do you know how big my TBR is? Why is bad, dramatic Bridget Jones fanfic Trojan-Horsing onto my list?!

I do not have time for this. If you loved it, I’m happy for you. But for me, this was a lazy mystery and a bad fictional drama with terribly immature characters.


Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

Book source: HarperCollins UK via NetGalley in exchange for a review

3 thoughts on “Review: Missing, Presumed (DS Manon, #1) by Susan Steiner

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