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Crime Files – Those Who Disappeared by Kevin Wignall #BookReview

It’s been thirty years since his father went missing. Now there’s a body, can he finally find out why?

When a man’s body is discovered in a Swiss glacier thirty years after he went missing, his son, Foster Treherne, hopes he’ll finally have closure on what happened to the father he never met. But then the autopsy reveals signs of a struggle, and what was assumed to be a tragic accident suddenly looks more sinister.

Foster tracks down his father’s old friends, but when he starts to ask questions it becomes clear that there’s something they don’t want to tell him. While some are evasive, others seem to wish the body had never been found. What exactly is their connection to each other, and why are they so reluctant to discuss the day his father disappeared? Who are they trying to protect?

If he wants to uncover what really happened, Foster must follow the trail of secrets and lies—no matter how devastating the consequences, and what they might reveal about his father. Because the truth can only stay buried for so long…

Those Who Disappeared by Kevin Wignall

Title: Those Who Disappeared | Author: Kevin Wignall | Publisher: Thomas & Mercer | Pub Date: 15/03/2021 | Pages: 232 | ASIN : B0887SMNP1 | Genre: Crime | Language: English | Source: NetGalley | Starred Review

Those Who Disappeared Review

Kevin Wignall has a knack for picking unconventional protagonists for his crime novels, and Those Who Disappeared is no exception. Foster Treherne is a famous artist, and when his father’s body is recovered on a mountain in Switzerland 32 years after he went missing, Foster’s convinced it wasn’t an accident. On the surface, it isn’t surprising that Foster wants to learn more about the father he never knew, since his father died months before he was born. Foster’s grown up without any real family, since his mother committed suicide when he was one, and his grandparents seemed to want nothing to do with him.

Foster’s personal growth arc feels organic and fresh. Initially, he doesn’t feel much about his father’s body being found, because he never knew him. When the emotions do start to take hold, they’re complex. He begins to discover who his father was through a journal that was recovered with his body. I found Foster’s actions believable. Given his wealth and privilege, it wasn’t surprising that he started to take the time to investigate his father and the mysterious group of friends his father had. Since the friends don’t seem to want to give Foster straight answers, it only serves to fuel his conviction that his dad’s death wasn’t a hiking accident, and he starts looking through boxes of his father’s belongings to learn more about him.

Meanwhile, Foster’s receiving anonymous threats and has a private investigator trying to determine who’s responsible. The threats ultimately remind Foster of a group of people he once knew, like his father’s college friends. His history with those friends, his failure to help them achieve success, and his dad’s group of college friends prompt some self-evaluation, which contributes to his natural growth arc.

It isn’t surprising that Foster’s the type of person who keeps people at arm’s length and has difficulty committing to relationships, but when he meets Daniela Herrera, even that seems to change. The more he learns about his father, the more he’s prompted to evaluate his own choices to decide what kind of person he wants to be and what he wants from life.

Those Who Disappeared is what I’d call a quiet story. There are no car or foot chases that get the protagonist’s adrenaline pumping. This is a story about unraveling truths and poking and prodding until you get the answers you need. It may not appeal to those who love action-packed stories, but it will appeal to readers who’re drawn to character-driven stories.

To avoid even the hint of spoilers, I’ll address one element in greater detail under a spoiler link, so those who don’t mind spoilers can read it if they choose. I’ll only note here that there’s a point where the story takes a hard left turn, and it led to a powerful resolution that was both heartbreaking and beautiful.

Wignall has a fluid, effortless style that draws readers in and carries them through the story. I was immediately invested in the protagonist and interested in this journey, and wasn’t disappointed. This is another strong crime novel from Wignall. It avoids the trappings of many amateur sleuth stories and the structure of procedures while telling a personal story that’s as much about a man coming to terms with his own loss and disappointment as it is about what really happened on a mountain in Switzerland 32 years ago.

You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It can be found here at Indiebound or at Bookshop. Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.

Content Warnings:

references to sexual assault and rape; suicide

Spoiler Warning:

When the truth about Foster’s father comes out, Foster contacts one of Charlie’s victims. She dismisses what happens and offers some justification for Charlie’s actions, pointing out that things were different in the 80s. I was worried this could read like justification, but to Wignall’s credit, Foster never shares that view and is repulsed when he learns his father sexually assaulted women. The revelations ultimately shape Foster’s views of his father and his mother, and while his primary intent was to learn about what had happened to his dad, the unexpected truth he discovers is what happened to his mom. Those Who Disappeared is really all about the mother that’s seldom mentioned, but ultimately revealed through Foster’s journey.

Published inBook ReviewsStarred Reviews

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