Luca Veste, Then She Was Gone, 2016
Luca Veste’s Then She Was Gone is the fourth, and possibly final, in the Murphy and Rossi detective series. Murphy and Rossi are assigned the task of finding Sam Bryne, a prospective MP for Liverpool (a Conservative MP, at that), who has been missing for a few days prior to their involvement. Veste’s novel leads us down a long and often puzzling road in uncovering the mystery behind Sam’s disappearance as Sam’s past and present come together.
Veste’s decision to have Sam Bryne working for the Conservative party is both intriguing and unnecessary. We are informed early on of Sam Bryne’s political party, and that he is young and hugely popular with the locals, forcing the possibility that a Conservative may actually win in Liverpool, although it is made pretty clear soon afterwards that this disappearance has nothing to do with politics and that his political choice then becomes a simple characteristic of him. This, however, leads to various characters making derogatory remarks about the Conservative party which, although would be commonplace in Liverpool, feels unnecessary to the plot.
It wasn’t just the Conservatives that were spoken of in this way; Rossi and DC Hashem are both female and foreign, which opened the door for some casual racism and sexism to be joked about, which, along with the political bias from the characters and the lack of a comeuppance for the remarks, is too much for me.
Another slight issue is the sheer amount of setting. For those in the know of the Liverpool setting being informed of each street may be interesting, but for those who do not know the Liverpool area are left with paragraphs of street name after street name with SatNav style directions.
Those minor issues aside, Then She Was Gone was a consistently interesting novel with a lot of twists and turns to leave you second guessing every scenario of who the kidnapper could be. Another interesting aspect of the novel is the chapter style; while it uses a numbered chapter system it also has various other chapters which go into the past to create more of a story behind the characters, as well as a few chapters titled ‘You’ where the kidnapper talks directly to us as if we were the killer. It’s spoken in the second person and this insight into his/her mind is a very unique way of having this secret person talk to us, allowing us to read between every line t try and find a clue of some sort to reveal their identity.
While there are a few negatives they don’t take anything away from a carefully put-together investigative novel, with a satisfying and well-paced crescendo and an exciting finale. Veste has stated he is moving on to other works, taking a break of unknown length from Murphy and Rossi, and if this turns out to be the last we see of them it’s a very satisfying way to bid goodbye to them.
Final Verdict: A couple of issues feel unnecessary but a very satisfying novel.
*Buy it on Amazon here*
Other Works by Luca Veste:
Murphy and Rossi series:
- Dead Gone
- The Dying Place
- Blood Stream
- It Never Leaves You