My enormous thanks to the team at Penguin for inviting me to participate in the launch celebrations for The Search Party by Simon Lelic. I’m delighted to be sharing my review today.
The Search Party was published by Penguin imprint Viking on 20th August 2020 and is available for purchase in all formats through the links here.
The Search Party
16-year-old Sadie Saunders is missing.
Five friends set out into the woods to find her.
But they’re not just friends…
You see, this was never a search party.
It’s a witch hunt.
And not everyone will make it home alive…
THE CHALK MAN meets THE HUNTING PARTY in this gripping story; witness four suspects as, alongside DI Fleet, you attempt to discover the truth about what happened to Sadie…
My Review of The Search Party
Sadie is missing and the race is on to find her.
The Search Party is a corker of a book and exceeded my already high expectations in every way because Simon Lelic has an ease of style that is effortless to read and yet creates a feeling of uneasiness and creepiness that unsettles the reader and has them wondering just what they might have seen out of the corner of their eye. I loved the elegant way The Search Party has been crafted. There’s such a brilliant mix of shorter and longer chapters that create tension and perfectly pitched pace, elevating the adrenaline in the reader. The denouement is a master class in balancing resolution and emotion so that I believed every element of this book. I was so captivated by the plot that I was both desperate to finish the book and equally didn’t want it to come to the end.
Written with chapters pertaining to Rob Fleet that follow a more conventional pattern set against one sided conversations as the youngsters involved are interviewed, The Search Party places the reader at the heart of both present and past action in a way that feels fresh, visual and compelling. I frequently find teenagers in fiction seem forced or contrived, but Simon Lelic presents authentic teenage voices that are completely convincing. I thought only having their half of the interviews was a brilliant technique because the reader’s mind fills in the police half of the conversation, again making them feel as much a part of the action as Fleet or any one of the teenagers.
Those teenage characters are an engaging mix of flawed emotion, unreliable account and devious innocence so that it isn’t until the very end of the book that the truth is uncovered, making The Search Party an exciting book. I thoroughly enjoyed uncovering Fleet’s character too and I hope he’ll reappear in subsequent stories. Simon Lelic makes Rob Fleet utterly realistic and someone to admire and feel desperately sad for. I forgot he’s a character and not a real man because of the convincing nature of the writing.
There’s much in The Search Party that hooks the reader through a shared reading experience and history so that its unnerving atmosphere is intensified. The sensation of being watched, wandering lost in a forest, and wondering who to trust are all aspects that trigger both fear and familiarity. Add in modern aspects of social media, mobile phones and current policing with themes of loss and grief and Simon Lelic has melded his themes into a fantastic story that is simply wonderful to read.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Search Party and am only sorry I haven’t discovered Simon Lelic’s writing before now. This book is tense, intelligent and an all round cracker of a read. I loved it and cannot recommend it highly enough.
About Simon Lelic
Simon Lelic is the author of The Liar’s Room, The House (a Radio 2 Book Club choice and Observer Thriller of the Month), Rupture (winner of a Betty Trask Award and shortlisted for the John Creasy New Blood Dagger, as well as the Galaxy Book Awards), The Facility and The Child Who (longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2012).
The Haven, The Haven: Revolution and The Haven: Deadfall are his first books for young teenagers (11+). H
Simon is married, with three children, and lives in Brighton, England. Other than his family, reading is Simon’s biggest passion. He also holds a black belt in karate, in which he trains daily.
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