Review: Impossible by Sarah Lotz

 

Title: Impossible

Author: Sarah Lotz

Published: 17th March 2022, HarperCollins UK

Read: March 2022 courtesy HarperCollins/Netgalley

++++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

I fell in love with Impossible (also published as Impossible Us) by Sarah Lotz a sublime romance with a fantastical twist.

When Nick sends an angry email to a late-paying client that is erroneously delivered to Bee’s inbox, her witty response and his sincere apology leads to daily exchanges, that quickly shift in tone from cautious and friendly to candid and flirty. Meeting in person is the obvious next step, but though they both claim to be waiting under the clock at Euston Station they can’t seem to find one another. While Bee assumes that her best friend, Leila, is right and she’s been had, Nick realises that something strange is happening…something impossible.

Unfolding through the email exchanges and first person narratives of Nick and Bee, Impossible offers a heartfelt romance thwarted by rules of physics. I don’t want to attempt a clumsy explanation of how this happens because you deserve to be drawn into their unconventional love story, and convinced by Lotz that the impossible is possible.

This is a book that appeals directly to the romantic at heart with numerous direct and oblique references to film and literary classics such as The Lake House, You’ve Got Mail, Sliding Doors, Rebecca, and Strangers on a Train, with a little David Bowie thrown in as a bonus, but nevertheless the plot feels creative and fresh. More serious issues are touched on too though including infidelity, suicide, domestic violence, and environmental harm.

I was entertained by the witty banter between Bee and Nick, and Lotz develops their chemistry with ease. Both protagonists are older than you might expect, Bee, a fashion designer with her own small business repurposing wedding gowns, is in her early to mid thirties, while Nick, a largely unsuccessful author, is forty-five. Credibly portrayed with a mix of strengths and flaws, they are appealing characters that I found easy to invest in.

Though quite different in tone and theme to her last book, Missing Person, Lotz’s flair for original storytelling, dynamic characterisation, and expressive writing remains compelling.

Witty, poignant, surprising and absorbing, I recommend you embrace the Impossible.

+++++++

Available from HarperCollins UK

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Review: Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

 

Title: Missing Person

Author: Sarah Lotz

Published: September 3rd 2019, Mulholland Books

Status: Read September 2019 courtesy Mulholland Books/Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

‘Looking for my uncle Edward Shaun Ryan. Goes by Teddy. He left Wicklow County in Ireland in 1995 and might be in NYC. To my knowledge he hasn’t contacted the family since then. His current age would be 42. Irish, slender, five foot five (approximately), gay. If you have any information please contact…”

Irish bookseller Shaun Ryan is stunned when he learns that his late mother’s favourite brother, Teddy may still be alive and well. While Shaun had been told his Uncle was killed in a car accident before he was born, it seems Teddy had instead been banished to the United States in part because, like Shaun, he was gay. Despite the vehement objections of his remaining family members, Shaun decides to search for him, posting messages online, hoping to reconnect with Teddy.

Shaun is shaken when he is contacted by a woman who runs a forum called MissingLinc.com for amateur websleuths that specialises in identifying the remains of missing people, suggesting that Teddy could be a match for an unidentified murder victim, known as ‘The Boy in the Dress’. The possibility galvanises the members of the site and with this new information the group redoubles their efforts to unravel the mystery. However among the eager websleuths lurks Teddy’s killer, and he is is determined that this is one case that will remain unsolved.

Missing Person offers an original, modern premise that is utterly believable. I was engrossed in this story, which explores the world of websleuthing, the online investigation of crime by individuals. It is an intriguing hobby that attracts a wide spectrum of people from bored housewives, to retired law enforcement officers, to IT specialists, and everything in between. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to one day learn that a killer has infiltrated a websleuth forum, of which there are many, in order to keep tabs on, or even derail, an inquiry that threatens to expose him/her. Murderer’s are known for attempting to get close to law enforcement investigations, for example, often participating in community searches for their victims, or volunteering false information to canvassing detectives. It would be relatively simple for a killer to anonymously involve themselves in this arena, something Lotz’s story acknowledges, along with the other possible pitfalls associated with online sleuthing, especially when social media is utilised.

Divided into four parts, and told from multiple perspectives, using a combination of a third person narrative and exchanged messages, texts, and forum posts, Missing Person is not just about the mystery surrounding Teddy’s murder, it examines the interesting characters that involve themselves in the case; Shaun (aka WicklowBoy22), Teddy’s nephew; forum owner, Chris (RatKing1), whose own mother has been missing since she was a teen; ‘Rainbowbrite’ (aka Ellie) a stay at home wife and mother; and the man who uses the online handle ‘BobbieCowell’, whose fascination with the case isn’t at all benign. I really enjoyed the author’s approach to telling this story, with its focus on the motives of her main characters, rather than on the crime itself.

Clever, engaging, and suspenseful, with the recent uptick of interest in true crime, evidenced by popular podcasts such as My Favorite Murder, and various Netflix specials, the publication of Sarah Lotz’s novel, Missing Person, is a timely and entertaining novel.

++++++

Available from Mulholland Books

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