Monday 29 June 2015

Reviewed: First One Missing by Tammy Cohen.

First One Missing will be published by Doubleday on July 2, 2015.

Thanks to the publisher for approving me to read First One Missing on Netgalley.

It’s the easiest thing to call a psychological thriller - gripping – but First One Missing had me glued to my Kindle. Tammy Cohen’s latest novel revolves around a group of mothers, each who have had their child taken and killed, each who have no idea about who the perpetrator is. All that is known – as we find out early on in First One Missing – is that this killer is not letting up and things are not about to get any easier for each of the victims’ families. I have to say I found this book a bit of a slowburner, it took a while to get going for me but it is well worth sticking with because soon I discovered that this novel was building up to red herring after red herring and with plenty of possible suspects in the mix, the tension escalated and I didn’t dare put this book down until I reached the end.

There is quite an impactful exploration of grief in First One Missing, and the effect that the unbearable tragedy of your child being killed has on a person. Each character in this book handles their loss differently and it brings up some pretty painful emotions and strong feelings which can so easily destroy someone. The story switches between a lot of characters but I thought they were all realistic and developed well but being able to get so close to what they were thinking made me doubt almost all of them at some point. The mother we see the most of is Emma, who was the second of the group to have her daughter, Tilly, murdered. With the deaths that follow, it’s up to Family Liaison Officer Leanne to keep Emma updated but Emma’s grief keeps pushing her closer to the edge and she’s desperate to learn who the killer is and to stop them from taking another innocent child’s life. This story is full of guilt, blame and torturous memories – how can life ever be ok when your child is never coming home? Each main character faces dark, uncomfortable situations which mess them up, and it’s so difficult to work out who to trust.

I did like the lighter edge to the story journalist Sally brought. There was a dry wit to her character and she could be quite cutting which added humour and did well to break up some of the harsher scenes. I was also relieved to see a thriller where the officer’s life story and relationship problems didn’t take over. Leanne was likeable and we learn a lot about her but it wasn’t overdone – there was just the right amount of her own personal life and her involvement in the lives of victims’ families.

Given the subject matter, it’s probably not right to say I loved this book but it was highly compelling and executed so well. First One Missing was disturbing, unsettling and seriously unputdownable. That ending floored me, I’m still not sure I ever would have guessed it. I did try and piece it all together but I failed miserably at working out who was responsible. Tammy always knows how to write a jaw-dropping twist and I love the unpredictability. This was really another brilliant book by Tammy and she sure knows how to break a character down and bring out such raw emotion in every one of them. The twists were great and the ending did not let me down, even though I’m not quite sure I wanted the book to finish at all. First One Missing is a gritty, powerful psychological thriller and one to move to the top of your reading pile, just make sure to set out a day to read it in because you are not going to want to put this book down.

Tension builds with every page as we're lead through red herring after red herring to an ending I never would have predicted.


  1. ooh, I really like the sound of this book, sounds just my cup,of's going straight on my wish list!


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