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.
I’m a big fan of Simon Lelic’s novels and, from previous experience, I knew to expect atmosphere and twists – both of which were served up by the bucketload in this intriguing novel!
The plot starts with a real bang: a transcript of an emergency call, where someone is in trouble in the woods, but the chaotic nature of the call means we don’t know what is happening or who exactly is involved…
We then follow Detective Fleet, who is investigating the disappearance of teenager Sadie, and the subsequent havoc which ensued after a group of Sadie’s friends decided to launch their own ‘search party’ in the woods. The story flicks between the present day investigation and the stories told to police by the teenagers themselves. In doing this, we get an insight into the teenager’s thoughts and feelings.
I have to say, I found the young people in this novel pretty annoying! Perhaps I’m just a bit old, but a lot of what they said and how they behaved reminded me why I don’t often read stories about young adults… This isn’t to diminish the story, however – I think it just highlights the typical social interaction and dimensions of a group of teenagers vs. a group of adults, and adds to the confusion when Fleet is trying to work out motives etc. Plus the fact that they just decided the police weren’t doing a good enough job at investigating Sadie’s disappearance, and thought they could do better, feels so typical of teenagers!
I really liked Fleet as our main detective – he is a great character with enough back story to keep the reader interested, but without being too dramatic or over the top. He is determined and feels reliable.
There’s plenty of atmosphere throughout this novel, particularly as the group of teenagers go further and further into the woods, and things start to get a bit strange… I loved the sense of menace that Simon Lelic creates. I’m not sure if it can beat his other two novels, which blew me away, but I’d definitely recommend The Search Party as an intriguing, entertaining read!
Many thanks to the publisher, Viking, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.
About the author
Simon Lelic is the author of five previous novels: 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 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2012), The House and The Liar’s Room. He lives in Brighton, UK.