Perhaps not the best place to drop into the fifth book in a series - at a funeral - but it is a clever way to bring the uninitiated reader up to speed with the characters, their relationship to each other and what they've all been up to. In typical form of this type of gathering, the chat is reminiscing, polite and a little dull. But at least we know who is who and who had a 'thing' with whom.
Brighton, England in 1964. I was born too late to have lived through the 60s but it is definitely my favourite twentieth century decade. The fashion, music, television and the cult of the teenager is all vividly portrayed as the police officers try to find a missing girl. The climax to the story takes place with the fighting between the groups known as Mods and Rockers on Brighton beach as a backdrop.
The theme focuses on the roles of females, the young women who part of the youth cultures, what is important to them and how they are valued by society. Career options are limited and tend to revolve around serving men, whether that means being a housewife and mother or making the tea at work. Life is disappointing for the ambitious woman. This is not to say that the male perspective does not feature in this book, because it does. The point of view switches between a couple of men as well women, and each of them reflects on their relationships with their wives and especially their daughters. Besides being protective of their women some of them are aware of sexism and the sometimes patronising attitudes. Now You See Them - the wives and daughters - always in plain sight but noticed when they are no longer around.
It is a slow start made the more difficult because the viewpoint frequently changes within the chapters so I found myself reading back to check who it is I'm reading about. Sometimes I forgot that there were missing schoolgirls at the root of this tale. A gentle mystery, probably better read as part of the series.
Published by Quercus on 3 October 2019. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.