Losing Leah by Sue Welfare
A DEBUT CRIME THRILLER FROM AN AWARD-WINNING SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR AND TV DRAMATIST.
On a cold, dark February morning, Chris and Leah Hills stop for coffee at an isolated service station a stone’s throw from the Welsh Borders. While Leah heads inside, Chris locks the car and goes in to order their drinks. Minutes pass. Chris waits and waits, but Leah doesn’t come back.
When Sergeant Mel Daley and her boss, Detective Inspector Harry Baker, arrive to begin a search for the missing woman, their investigation calls everything into question. Is she alive? Did she leave the service station with someone else? Did Leah ever even leave Norfolk? While her husband becomes more frantic, the pair begin to unravel a tangle of dark secrets from the past.
Losing Leah is a debut crime thriller by an established author. The novel centres around the disappearance of Leah Hills and her husband’s insistence that she has come to harm.
The novel opens as security staff attempt to comfort a man stating,
“I can’t find my wife” & “you have to find her”.
When the police arrive at Hoden Gap services. We the reader discover the formalities of missing persons cases. That there are 80+ missing people per day. That each case is assessed for its level of risk and the greater the risk the more complex the case and the more resources that are available.
What happens when a simply weekend away, turns into a living nightmare….
The police officers decide there are four possible solutions with the case. That either Leah left of her own volition, she was abducted, she is still present at the services or that she was never there at all. They hope she is located soon and this was all just one big misunderstanding. But things are rarely as simple as they appear at first…..
If in doubt, think murder
None of the staff at the services, report a single sighting of Leah that day. Although the CCTV images are poor, none lead to visual image of Leah either. Which just leaves the police to gather information and evidence from the husband Chris Hills.
Chris is rude, abrupt and obnoxious. I instantly disliked his character, I found him to be controlling and domineering with his attitudes towards his wife.
But this alone, doesn’t make him a killer.
He tells the officers that They were travelling from their home in Norfolk, to their holiday cottage in Wales. That although Leah was needy, weak and needed ‘looking after’ she was not unhappy about their trip. He reports that she had only recently stopped taking her antidepressant medication, after the death of her best friend 18 months ago. Every time Chris spoke, I found myself loathing his character more and more.
The police organise a full-scale search of the area and begin to look into, EVERY aspect of the couple’s lives. Chris hands them the keys to the properties and car. Is he confidant or cocky? One thing is for certain, the police will leave no stone unturned to find a vulnerable woman.The novel is an interesting exploration into ‘what goes on behind closed doors’ and surrounding people the couple interacted with. The ending was cleverly done, but I felt there could have been more depth and details. The greatest element that kept me hooked, was the theme that being an oddball or unlikeable doesn’t necessarily make someone a killer. I kept reading on and on trying to guess the plot and conjuring up various theories. 4*