Published by Viking
Publication date – 20 August 2020
Source – review copy
16-year-old Sadie Saunders is missing.
Five friends set out into the woods to find her.
But they’re not just friends…
You see, this was never a search party.
It’s a witch hunt.
And not everyone will make it home alive…
When Fleet goes down to the woods today, he’s in for a big surprise…
Sadie Saunders is missing. Five teenagers, including her brother, set off into the woods looking for her. When they emerge they are found with a body, only it’s not Sadie. DI Fleet must work to find out what has happened, and carry on the search for Sadie.
The chapters alternate between the five teenagers and DI Fleet, each one adding a layer to the story, and of course sowing seeds of doubt as it becomes obvious the search party are hiding something. I enjoyed the balance between the two. In fact, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the book half as much if Fleet’s search did not interject into the teenagers recollections.
Fleet and his partner Nicky are perhaps amongst the few adult who can be relied upon in the town. The parents of the teenagers are all fine examples of how not to parent. Sadie’s mum and dad cared only for her, and now that she is missing, they are ignoring Sadie’s brothers. The other parents, some who only appear for a few pages, others not at all, each have issue which mean they would not be in the running for parent of the year.
It soon becomes obvious that the teenagers haven’t set out to find Sadie. They are really on the hunt for a killer. DI Fleet is on the hunt for Sadie, but does not hold out much hope for finding her alive.
Fleet has his own issues, returning to the town of his youth, a place he left after the death of his sister. He hasn’t returned, or seen his mum since. Now he must face up to the past whilst looking for Sadie.
I enjoyed The Search Party, which isn’t paced too fast or too slow. It was good way to spend a few hours, thankfully not in rainy, windy wood.
I’ll be on the look out for more from Simon Lelic (and hopefully DI Fleet) in the future.
About the Author
Simon Lelic is the author of five highly acclaimed thrillers: Rupture (winner of a Betty Trask Award and shortlisted for the John Creasy Debut Dagger), The Facility, The Child Who (longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger), The House and The Liar’s Room.