Book name: Never Seen Again
Author: Paul Finch
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Murder mystery
Publication Date: 2022
Star Rating: 5/5
Lots of crime fiction is written from the perspective of a detective or a serving police officer. Never Seen Again is different.
David Kelman is an investigative journalist who got sacked when he screwed up six years ago.
Since then, he’s been earning a living as a low-grade hack exposing tired celebrity scandals.
His colleagues, Norm and Anushka, haven’t fared much better. She’s working on the till at Tesco and Norm has taken early retirement.
The cause of their mutual downfall was an interview David obtained with a teenage boy (Freddie Martindale) whose sister Jodie (23) had just been abducted.
The interview shared pretty much all the information that Essex police were trying to keep to themselves.
David also came pretty close to impersonating a police officer, and the story was published just before the body of Jodie’s fiancé was found.
Jodie has never been seen again, but Freddie has recently died from a fall from a building in what appears to be suicide.
David is keen to rehabilitate himself professionally, and the opportunity comes when he steals a box of Freddie’s belongings.
The box was thrown into the rubbish bin by Freddie’s sister Hannah, so it’s a grey area as to whether David has committed a criminal offence.
The box contains an old mobile phone, which David is able to recharge. It contains a new voicemail message allegedly from Jodie.
This is the first evidence in six years that she is still alive.
David brings Norm and Anushka into his project and together they begin to investigate Freddie’s apparent suicide and whether Jodie could still be alive.
Paul Finch has been both a police officer and a journalist, so in many ways he was the perfect person to write this story.
There was enough police procedure and inside knowledge to satisfy the seasoned fan of crime fiction. Yet almost all of the story was told from the point of view of the journalists.
The early part of the story (much of which is delivered via flashbacks to six years ago) was entirely credible in terms of police approach to a kidnap that appears to be linked to an earlier ‘dry run’ kidnap that led to the death of both victims.
The previous investigation by David’s team into police corruption also rang true, and it gave an existing resentment to the relationship when he turns up to ask about Jodie’s kidnap.
I enjoyed every page of Never Seen Again. Jodie was always kept in mind. There was always hope she found be found. The world of people trafficking and the sex trade was shown in all its cruelty. Nothing, including Freddie’s murder, was sugar-coated.
This was in many ways a gruelling read, but hope of better journalism, exposure of more police corruption, Jodie still being alive and the break-up of the trafficking ring kept the reader engaged positively throughout.
Thank you for reading my review.
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If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might be interested reading in my review of Murder Underground.
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If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my review of Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin.