This is an easy read but an extremely pleasurable and fulfilling one. All the stories are inextricably linked but that is not revealed until much later in the novel.
At first, I was unsure where this novel was headed. In the opening pages, a three year old girl vanishes from her home one unusually hot English Summer. A solicitor witnesses the violent death of his daughter in the next pages and then a strained and tired mother kills her husband in a very violent domestic episode. Despite these far-fetched and dramatic scenarios, a trashy soap this novel is not.
Atkinson methodically outlines hers plot, only revealing what is absolutely necessary at any given time. While this is a detective novel, it doesn’t really feel like one (although I admit I am no expert on the genre). Like J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, Atkinson really gets inside the head of her characters – their motivations, fears and deepest thoughts.
What is satisfying about this novel are there are no loose ends at the end. While an inconclusive ending can sometimes be thought-provoking, in many instances it is extremely frustrating and I respect an author who has the guts to complete the stories of their protagonists.