Books & Literature

Book Review: Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? by Nicci French

THRILLER: The ‘unputdownable’ [Erin Kelly] new thriller from the bestselling author of psychological suspense.

Emotive and complex; you won’t see the ending coming!

Feature image credit: Simon & Schuster

Nicci French, the literary pseudonym for the dynamic writing duo Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, has woven a narrative that unfolds like a meticulously crafted puzzle in their latest offering, “Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter?” With 25 books under their shared pen, the authors demonstrate their mastery in crafting a complex, emotionally charged story that demands patience but rewards tenfold in its conclusion.

The novel is divided into three sections, each serving a distinct purpose in unravelling the mystery at its core. The initial segment, while a bit slow, provides essential backstory, grounding readers in the pivotal 1990s moment when vivacious Charlotte Salter vanishes on her husband Alec’s 50th birthday. The family dynamics and the initial reactions to Charlotte’s disappearance are meticulously depicted, laying the foundation for the emotional rollercoaster that follows.

Fast forward 30 years in the second section, and the narrative takes a captivating turn. Alec, now grappling with dementia, confuses his daughter Etty for her long-lost mother, unveiling savory family secrets. The introduction of a true crime podcast sparks renewed interest in Charlotte’s disappearance, threatening to expose the town’s concealed secrets, particularly those of the Salter family.

The third and final section propels the narrative like a rollercoaster hurtling towards the finish line. New characters with fresh perspectives and their own baggage reinvestigate the mysteries of the past, providing a riveting exploration of the town’s evolution over three decades. While there is some reiteration of finer details, the reader, by this point, finds it nearly impossible to set the book aside. The conclusion, when it arrives, does so unexpectedly, weaving together the emotional threads of the story with a wicked twist that lingers in the reader’s mind.

Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? is undeniably a lengthy read, a narrative that some might contemplate setting aside before reaching the point of complete engagement. However, it is a testament to the authors’ storytelling prowess that the investment of time and patience is profoundly worthwhile. The story unveils itself like a delicate tapestry, exposing complex characters and offering insights into the transformations of a small English town over three decades, shrouded in mystery yet maintaining an underlying sameness.

The novel is not a mere exploration of a missing person’s case; it is a profound journey into the lives of broken individuals, each carrying their burdens. The authors skilfully navigate the intricacies of familial relationships, the impact of time on memories, and the haunting spectre of unresolved disappearances. As readers traverse the tale of the Salter family, they confront the profound changes that time brings, all the while uncovering the truth about what happened to Charlotte Salter.

In essence, Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? is a literary odyssey, a narrative that requires readers to meander through its complexities, absorbing the nuances and intricacies along the way. It is an invitation to spend a couple of days immersed in the lives of these broken characters, to grapple with their secrets and, ultimately, to discover the fate of Charlotte Salter. Nicci French, once again, proves that the journey through their narratives is as significant as the destination itself.

Reviewed by Leanne Caune

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster
Released: March 2024
RRP: $32.99

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