Review: Without a Trace by Lesley Pearse

Friday 8 May 2015
Title: Without a Trace
Author: Lesley Pearse
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication Date: 7th May 2015
Pages: 416
ISBN: 9780718159078
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5
Purchase: Amazon
Coronation Day, 1953.

In the Somerset village of Sawbridge, young shopkeeper Molly Heywood slips away from the celebrations to her friend's cottage and makes a shocking discovery: Cassie is dead and her six-year-old daughter Petal has vanished without a trace.

In her grief, Molly seeks help from her childhood friend George, now the village policeman, but no one can find Petal. The only clue is a letter from London, where Cassie once lived. Despite George's reluctance and her growing feelings for him, Molly resolves to go to London in the hope of discovering the missing child.

Arriving in the big city, Molly quickly learns it's a dangerous place for a country girl on her own. But there's hope too - in the Blitz-ruined East End, she unexpectedly finds friendship with strangers from Cassie's past and, with handsome, mysterious workman Charley, the possibility of something more.However, the closer Molly gets to the truth, the more perilous her journey becomes. She has given up everything - her home, happiness and a chance at love - all to find Petal. But is she also risking her life?

They say that everybody has a book in them. Well Lesley Pearse has written that book and 22 others which I think is quite outstanding. Without a Trace has everything that readers have come to expect when they pick up a book from Lesley, and new readers will also find enjoyment out of this book, and a back catalogue to devour, of which I have read just a couple of books from over the years.

In Without a Trace we meet Molly Heywood who finds her best friend Cassie dead when she slips away from the Coronation Day celebrations of 1953 to visit her. Not only that but Cassie's daughter Petal has vanished. The one clue is in a letter from London, and Molly heads for the capital in search of answers. The Blitz-ruined East End of London is a dangerous place for a country girl on her own and I especially enjoyed the realistic portrayal of our capital, even today it is 'the dream' for some but often it is anything but. Molly soon finds friendship with some of the strangers from Cassie's past and soon, answers start to come, but will they be at the cost of Molly's own life?

It is of course difficult if not impossible to discuss the book in any great detail except to say it is one that even the slowest reader will storm through in just a couple of sittings as it is a gripping tale that hooks the reader in, making them determined to uncover the truth along with Molly. I first started reading books similar to those that Lesley writes because they capture a time gone by brilliantly. You could say some of the subjects tackled within Without a Trace are a thing of the past and perhaps in some places they are, in others, not so much. At times you could be forgiven for thinking the story was set much earlier than the 1950s, the attitudes and behaviours of certain characters appearing almost as outdated as a previous generation iPhone but it all adds to the overall authenticity, an accurate portrayal of the time.

Something else I particularly enjoy about these books is how vividly Lesley describes her settings, allowing them to come alive in the mind of the reader. From the East End to the countryside, the setting is interwoven perfectly with the story to create a truly atmospheric read. Also, strong female characters. Molly's upbringing could all so easily have forced her to lead a very different life, instead it instilled in her a fierce resilience and determination. An eagerness to find out exactly what happened to Cassie, and find out just where Petal is. Molly is an inherently likeable character, and one that readers will have no trouble rooting for and her journey over the course of the novel was the real highlight for me.

Without a Trace doesn't disappoint. Coming to the party late can be a little bit intimidating when choosing which books to read, but I have certainly enjoyed the few Lesley Pearse books that I have read and will hopefully be picking up some more in the very near future.


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