Deborah and Simon St. James have taken a holiday in the winter landscape of Lancastershire, hoping to heal the growing rift in their marriage. But in the barren countryside awaits bleak news: The vicar of Wimslough, the man they had come to see, is dead—a victim of accidental poisoning. Unsatisfied with the inquest ruling and unsettled by the close association between the investigating constable and the woman who served the deadly meal, Simon calls in his old friend Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley. Together they uncover dark, complex relationships in this rural village, relationships that bring men and women together with a passion, with grief, or with the intention to kill. Peeling away layer after layer of personal history to reveal the torment of a fugitive spirit, Missing Joseph is award-winning author Elizabeth George's greatest achievement.
Missing Joseph by Elizabeth George
It’s to the author’s credit that by that by the end of the book I came to care about characters so much that I found myself wondering how their lives will play out after we’ve closed the pages of the book. I found myself dissatisfied with the future that seems to await Maggie Spence, the thirteen year old whose mother has been taken away for murder and kidnapping. While Lynley has visited the home of her birth mother Sheelah in London and has determined that despite the poverty and array of half siblings from different fathers, Sheelah genuinely does love her children, a close reading reveals some troubling factors in Maggie’s the
new environment. During Lynley’s visit, Sheelah’s oldest boy warns her about her latest fiancée. Sheelah points to her pregnant belly and explains that the baby will need a father. It indicates that contrary to Lynley’s opinion, she has not matured very much since she first exposed Maggie, who was an infant, to a violent father who fractured her skull and some ribs. I was hoping that Maggie’s boyfriend Nick’s family would somehow become involved in her guardianship, which in some way would parallel the history of Simon and Deborah. Nick was a character whom one takes an initial dislike to and distrust of in the manner in which he is introduced into the story, only to find that he and his family turn out to be genuinely decent people. It is a strength of the author to be able to create such vividly drawn characters that I,as a reader, am speculating over their fates as if they were real.