MISSING PERSONS by Clare O’Donohue

Book Quote:

“I could hear the sincerity in my voice. I could imitate sincerity so well that even I believed it.”

Book Review:

Review by Eleanor Bukowsky  (JUN 4, 2011)

Clare O’Donohue knows what she is talking about in Missing Persons, a satirical and amusing novel about a Chicago-based freelance television producer who specializes in true crime stories. Since O’Donohue has been a producer, she understands “the frustration, annoyance, and craziness” that go with the territory.

Kate is an adorable character who is bright, hard-working, blunt, sassy, and very skilled at what she does. However, she would be the first to admit that she is driven and will do almost anything to get a good sound bite. It’s her mission to manipulate the people she interviews. If she wants someone to cry, she knows how to make it happen. It is no wonder that Kate has become so jaded. Her commitment to her work may be one of the factors that broke up her fifteen-year marriage. She is separated from her soon to be ex-husband, Frank, an aspiring artist. While Kate earned a living, Frank dreamed, puttered, and made promises that he never kept. Now he has found a new significant other and is moving on with his life.

A shocking tragedy changes everything and Kate becomes involved in her own personal drama. In addition, she has a new assignment for a show called Missing Persons. With the help of her cameraman and audio guy, Kate is conducting interviews with everyone who knew Theresa Moretti, a twenty-two year old woman who vanished over a year ago. Did Theresa walk away from her life voluntarily or did someone abduct her? Kate, an amateur sleuth, conducts her own informal inquiries into the Moretti case.

This is a clever and engrossing mystery that, happily, avoids most of the clichés that make readers wince. There is no gloppy romance for Kate; the trajectory of the investigation goes off in unexpected and original directions; and the ending is surprisingly tame and free of melodrama. Even more unusual is the fact that Kate befriends Frank’s mistress, Vera Bingham, who seems to be a rather nice person.

There is witty and sometimes profane banter between Kate and her crew–her cameraman, Andres, and her sound man, Victor. We also get an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the making of a low-budget cable television program. Kate’s profession is challenging and highly competitive. She sometimes loathes herself for using devious tactics to get the footage that she needs. In a particularly telling scene, Kate says about a woman she is interviewing, “She was so vulnerable, in so much pain. It would look great on camera.” How cynical can you get? This is a lighthearted story with some serious themes: First, television executives often cater to the lowest common denominator, exploiting an audience that craves sensationalism. (“People love other people’s misery.”) In addition, Kate, in a rare moment of introspection, begins to understand the part that she played in the dissolution of her marriage. She realizes belatedly that, had she been a bit more unselfish, compassionate, and giving, she and her husband might have managed to stay together.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-5-0from 17 readers
PUBLISHER: Plume; 1 edition (May 31, 2011)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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June 4, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Sleuths Series, US Midwest

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