Saturday, March 9, 2024

Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter?

Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? by Nicci French
3/19/24; 544 pages
William Morrow

Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? by Nicci French is a domestic mystery which ends as a police procedural. This gripping story of families seeking closure while dealing with a missing person and death is very highly recommended.

It is December 22, 1990 in the village of Glensted in East Anglia and Alec Salter's 50th birthday party is being held in a cleaned-up barn. The four Salter children are present, Niall, Paul, Ollie, and Etty, along with most of the village. It becomes clear that Alec's wife, Charlie (Charlotte), is missing. Alec doesn't seem to care, but fifteen-year-old Etty becomes increasingly worried and finally ends up calling the police to report her missing. The police aren't as concerned. As the days pass by and nothing is heard. Then the body of neighbor and family friend, Duncan Ackerly is found in the river, a presumed suicide, and the police tie the two cases together with no supporting evidence.

The narrative is presented in three parts. Part one is in 1990 and covers the missing person case of Charlie and death of Duncan. It is mainly told through Etty's point-of-view. Part two is set in 2022 and finds the Salter's reunited to move their father Alec to a care facility. It has the two Ackerly brothers also reuniting in the area to make a podcast about their father's death and Charlie's disappearance. Part three has London sending Detective Inspector Maud O’Connor to Glensted to in response to the podcast. Her job is to seriously look at the facts and evidence to find a resolution to the 30 year-old case.

Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? is an exceptionally well-written character-driven murder mystery that transforms into a procedural. It was enjoyable to meet the characters when the majority were young and living in dysfunctional homes, and then viewing them as adults where you could see the damage the tragedies inflicted on them and how their lives will always be interconnected. The time span provided a full examination of them as individuals. Alec is shown to be an angry, disagreeable man. Both Charlie and Duncan are also developed as characters.

The first two parts are emotional, have an even pace, and the characters are handled with great compassion. The switch between a character driven mystery and psychological examination into a procedural, where the same characters are viewed by a third party was a wonderful choice. The contrast between the two investigations thirty years apart is disconcerting, as is the introduction of Detective Inspector Maud O’Connor into the plot. She is an excellent character and I quite enjoyed the switch to a procedural to bring closure to the case.

Nicci French is the pseudonym adopted by writers Nicci Gerard and Sean French. Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? is an excellent novel that showcases their skill and talent. This very highly recommended novel is outstanding. Thanks to William Morrow for providing me with an advance reader's copy via Edelweiss. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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