‘The Man Who Disappeared’ – Clare Morrall
What would you do if, out of the blue, your husband disappeared and you found out he was a suspected criminal?
When reliable, respectable Felix Kendall vanishes, his wife Kate is left reeling. As she and their children cope with the shocking impact on their comfortable lives, Kate realises that, if Felix is guilty, she never truly knew the man she loved. But as she faces the possibility that he might not return, she also discovers strengths she never knew she had.
I find this novel really difficult to classify. The blurb makes it sound like a crime/thriller but once I had finished reading it, ‘The Man Who Disappeared’ seemed neither. It came across as a “half-baked” thriller that lost its purpose towards the end.
The plot seems to focus on human nature and how it change as a result of someone disappearing, in this case, Felix Kendall. I was expecting Kate, his wife, to investigate the circumstances of the crime, but this instead is about how she and her family adapt, with frequent flashbacks to the past.
I found the structure of the narrative quite frustrating. Typically there is a break in the text when the time frame shifts but writer has chosen to be far more subtle. The tense shifts from present to past simply with a change in paragraph and whilst this is quite slick, I found myself re-reading sections to track this change and to get a proper grasp of what was happening. This did take away my enjoyment of the story because I think the writer could have used the typical structure to shift back in time – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” springs to mind.
This is an average plot with an unusual focus for a novel that initially seems to be crime fiction. Whilst the changes that the characters undergo are quite interesting, I think there is room for more development in the story.