Watch Her Disappear by Eva Dolan – review

Published by Harvill Secker

Publication date – 26 January 2017

Source – review copy

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“YOU CAN RUN FROM YOUR PAST. BUT YOU CAN’T RUN FROM MURDER.

The body is found by the river, near a spot popular with runners.

With a serial rapist at work in the area, DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are initially confused when the Hate Crimes Unit is summoned to the scene. Until they discover that the victim, Corinne Sawyer, was born Colin Sawyer.

Police records reveal there have been violent attacks on trans women in the local area. Was Corinne a victim of mistaken identity? Or has the person who has been targeting trans women stepped up their campaign of violence? With tensions running high, and the force coming under national scrutiny, this is a complex case and any mistake made could be fatal…”
Read more on the Penguin website.

Corinne Sawyer sets off for a run one morning and never returns. She is found murdered, strangled and viciously beaten. What would have been a case for CID is passed to the Hate Crimes team when it emerges that Corinne was born Colin Sawyer. Is Corinne’s death related to a series of violent attacks on members of the trans community? Or could the rapist who has been attacking young joggers finally progressed to murder? Zigic and Ferreira must find out before anyone else dies.

The novel is a commentary on how society accepts transgender people and depicts the fallout and differing responses that occur after a dramatic change occurs in a family . When a husband and a father suddenly becomes a wife and mother. The gambit of emotions are shown in the Sawyer family, from heartbreak and anger, acceptance and love, to violence and shame.

The mystery itself is one with enough suspects, twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. There are three different threads to the story that run along side each other, merging to create a wonderfully rounded and engaging story. I had guessed the culprit before the reveal but this did not spoil my enjoyment of this entertaining novel.

There is a brilliant dynamic between the team depicted in the story, not just between Zigic and Ferreira but also with other colleagues within Hate Crimes and in the larger force. There are touches of reality that help shape the novel, making it feel more authentic for the reader.

Zigic is coming to terms with the reality of having three children, the baby taking a toll on his life, aware he needs to exercise more. This could be mundane under the wrong hands but Eva Dolan uses these aspects of life to round out her character, making him more accessible and relatable, and all the more enjoyable to read about. Ferreira is more introspective in this novel, looking back at a past relationship which has shaped her to this day. The reader finds out why Mel is distant, less inclined for relationships and a new side to the detective is revealed.

Eva Dolan deals with emotive, and often complex, issues with gripping prose that is the perfect balance. By that I mean it is informative, entertaining, rightly judgmental in places yet far from self righteous. It allows the reader to create their own impression of the characters and motive for murder, of the ridicule and trauma the transgender and transvestite community face and therefore the level of anger and sadness that this creates will be different and particular to each reader.

Moving, thought-provoking and emotive, this is a gripping novel focusing on a sadly neglected area of crime, those motivated by hate. If you love crime novels then this book is for you. If you love crime novels but are looking for a book that deals with societal issues and victims who are often viewed, quite wrongly, as the outcasts of society then this book is for you.

Eva Dolan is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. I was late coming to her Hate Crimes series. Luckily I have her first two books to read whilst I await her next novel, which can’t come soon enough.

 

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