The Search Party by Simon Lelic

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Viking| 20 August 2020| 352 pages print length| Hardback| Review Copy

Three years ago I read The House by Simon Lelic and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to reading The Search Party. I’m delighted to say that I think it is even better.

16-year-old Sadie Saunders is missing and five of her friends set out into the woods to find her. At the same time the police’s investigation, led by Detective Inspector Robin Fleet and Detective Sergeant Nicola Collins, is underway. The narrative alternates between the two groups. Sadie is a clever girl, popular with her school friends and loved by her parents, who favour her over her twin brother Luke and their younger brother, Dylan.

The opening lines propelled me straight into the story as one of Sadie’s friends, lost in the woods her makes an incoherent phone call to the emergency services. The caller doesn’t know their location other than it is ‘somewhere in the woods‘ near an abandoned building. And from that point on I was gripped, compelled to follow this complex novel, full of red herrings and multiple twists and turns. It is tense from start to finish, ending in an exhausting and terrifying chase that had me on the edge of my seat!

I really like Fleet, and the way he stands up to his boss, Superintendent Burton, whose main concern is the cost of the investigation. Burton puts pressure on him to arrest Mason, assuming he has killed Sadie even though her body has not been found. Mason is part of the search party, but Fleet’s instincts tell him Mason is innocent. Fleet is known for his ability to find missing persons and sticks to his gut feelings.

My only criticism is that at times the teenagers’ rambling discussions about what could have happened to Sadie and their disagreements went on too long for my liking. But that is just a minor point. They are all keeping secrets and in their interviews with the police they all lie and withhold vital facts and they are suspicious of each other, not knowing who they can trust. And I couldn’t decide what had happened to Sadie – had she run away, committed suicide or was she murdered and if so who was the murderer. They are all suspects, including Sadie’s parents. It was only just before the end of the book that I realised just what had happened.

My thanks to NetGalley and Viking, the publishers for a review copy.

6 thoughts on “The Search Party by Simon Lelic

  1. I’m not surprised that you found yourself drawn in, Margaret. Lelic is very good at ramping up the tension, and at inviting the reader to engage in the story. Those alternating points of view can add a lot to a story, too; when they’re done well, they give a really interesting perspective on a case. Glad you liked this so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read Lelic, though I’ve heard quite a bit about his books.
    I have read The Dry by Jane Harper, which I see you’re currently reading. I thoroughly enjoyed that one, though it’s not a comfort read, that’s for sure. I also read Harper’s Force of Nature, which I didn’t think was as well done.

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  3. I hope you’ll enjoy his books if you do try one. I see on his website that he also writes children’s books – The Haven series – WINNER of the 2020 Juniper Book of the Year Award – voted for by readers in 45 schools!

    SHORTLISTED for the 2020 CrimeFest Awards (Best Crime Novel for Children ages 8-12).

    SHORTLISTED for the BGS Awards 2020.

    SHORTLISTED for the DSB Award 2020



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