Review: First One Missing by Tammy Cohen

Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Title: First One Missing
Author: Tammy Cohen
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 2nd July 2015
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780857522771
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
There are three things no-one can prepare you for when your daughter is murdered:

- You are haunted by her memory day and night

- Even close friends can't understand what you are going through.

- Only in a group with mothers of other victims can you find real comfort.

But as the bereaved parents gather to offer support in the wake of another killing, a crack appears in the group that threatens to rock their lives all over again.

Welcome to the club no one wants to join.

After reading Tammy Cohen's Dying for Christmas last year, I was very excited to get started with First One Missing, especially after reading the book's blurb. First One Missing is a difficult book to discuss without giving some stuff away so as always read on with that in mind. Perhaps because I came to this book off the back of Bear Grylls' new thriller, I found the opening to be a bit, flat? Boring? It took me a while to get to grips with the story, and I found myself for almost the first half of the book wishing things would hurry along a little.

Emma is contacted by her police liaison officer with news that another young girl has been murdered, her own daughter Tilly having been murdered a few years earlier. Emma attends a group named 'Megan's Angels', a support group setup by Helen, the mother of the very first child who was murdered. A story centred around the murder of children can at times be a difficult read, yet Tammy tackles it with real sensitivity, and there's never anything gratuitous about her writing or storytelling.

First One Missing is very much a character-driven story in the beginning, focusing as it does on a number of characters affected by the murders of these young girls. Not only the family members themselves (most of whom I have to say were very well-drawn and believable) but also the liaison officers, and a - in the beginning - very unlikeable journalist. In the back of my mind I was thinking about what each of these characters were going to bring to the story, and with some mysterious chapters following some shady characters I had no idea where the story was going to go.

In terms of the characters attending the support group, it was one of the liaison officers that picked up on my thoughts: the families are all part of a group which you would expect to be somewhat harmonious, to be 'helpful' to each of the people that attend but it can at times be a little acrimonious, some family members not even wanting to be there. Each person has their own personality, just like the rest of us. And as Leanne, the liaison officer says you don't suddenly become a nicer, kinder person simply because your daughter has been murdered. And that's so true because there's a couple of family members who I inherently disliked.

First One Missing is definitely one of those books that I'm glad I stuck with because the latter half of the book was really good, and contained everything that I have come to expect from a Tammy Cohen novel. The actual ending itself, and the twists and reveals that come out towards the end of the novel are brilliant. In terms of who the killer is, it's brilliant but at the same time it left me wondering whether I should have worked it out myself... It almost makes me want to read the book and see whether the clues were there. Overall despite a slow start I did enjoy First One Missing, and definitely recommend it.

3.5/5

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