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British Mysteries

Don't Leave Me, Clare Curzon, Worldwide, $5.99.

This is a superior police procedural by the British writer Clare Curzon, who's been so spottily published in the U.S. that she doesn't have the following she probably deserves. There really can't be too many well written police procedurals with strong central characters - for me at least - and it's one of the things the English do best. This one notes on the cover that it's "A Superintendent Mike Yeadings" novel - and one devoutly wishes for more when this one is finished. My advice to you is if you see a Clare Curzon novel languishing on a shelf, snap it up.

This book follows two cases that take place in the same family - the first is the disappearance of the wife of a local writer. The wife leaves behind a three year old daughter and a devastated husband; it eventually becomes apparent that she's disappeared of her own accord, not dead. Jump forward to the present, when the then three year old is eleven, and the daughter, too, has disappeared. This time the father is completely hysterical and as the police begin to turn over the stones of his life and the past life of his wife they find lots of leads that take them nowhere, in a seemingly impenetrable case. Of course since the detectives are looking for a missing child they are extremely reluctant to give up the hunt, so the detail of a police investigation is well chronicled, but never in a dull or plodding manner.

The denouement of this novel is truly unique and caught me completely by surprise - or at least one aspect of it did - and while I was surprised, I felt Curzon had prepared the ground so thoroughly I never felt the solution was outrageous. This is a memorable, haunting, and well done effort, in the manner of fellow British writers like Dorothy Simpson and Susannah Stacey. Like Simpson and Stacey she never takes you to the psychological depths plumbed by Ruth Rendell or P.D. James, and sometimes, that's a good thing. Every now and then a good story is all you really need.

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