If you’re anything like us, you won’t have been able to get enough of Harry and Jack Williams’ fantastic BBC crime drama The Missing.
The first series, which followed the disappearance of Oliver Hughes and the desperate search for him by his father, played by James Nesbitt, gripped audiences everywhere. But when the show’s writers decided to take the story forwards, they didn’t want to return to Oliver’s tale. After dealing so brilliantly – and sensitively – with the dark events and harrowing sense of loss experienced when someone goes missing, the Williams brothers wanted to change their approach and come at the situation from a different angle; in series 2, they would explore how a family and community cope with with a missing person’s return. Harry explained, “Rather than losing someone, it’s about finding someone, and whether that is the happy ending that everyone thinks it is”.
In both scenarios, it’s not just the plot that’s made the two series so compelling. The focus is not just on the investigation and Baptiste’s unrelenting search for the truth: it’s also on the emotional, psychological impact of experiencing traumatic events – how ordinary people can be pushed to do extraordinary things when put under pressure – and this is what has set this show apart from the rest. Watching The Missing is like embarking on a journey with the characters – one full of twists, turns, red herrings and shocking revelations that will blow all your assumptions out of the water.
But with the latest series now coming to an end, where do we turn next? We’ve picked out eleven books for fans of The Missing – compelling stories revolving around missing persons cases that are well-crafted and gripping from start to finish. How many have you read?
11 must-read books for fans of The Missing:
Girl Unknown by Karen Perry
When first-year student Zoë Barry walks into Professor David Connolly’s office and tells him he might be her father, he’s left reeling. But it’s the lives of his family – particularly his wife Caroline – which are turned upside down by the arrival of this stranger.
Though no one knows quite who Zoë is, she is soon entangled in their lives. Yet her stories don’t ring true and Caroline is determined to learn if the girl is the unlucky innocent she claims to be or someone with a far darker agenda.
Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
Lily was abducted from outside her high-school gates. For eight long years she’s been locked away from the outside world. During that time she’s changed from a girl into a woman. She’s had a baby. And now she has seized her chance and escaped.
Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know – to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend – and her freedom. But is it possible to go back? Lily’s perfect life as a teenager doesn’t exist any more. Since she’s been gone, her family’s lives have changed too, in ways she never could have imagined. Her return, and the revelation of who took her, will send shockwaves through the whole community.
Vanished by Tim Weaver
For millions of Londoners, the morning of 17 December is just like any other – but not for Sam Wren. An hour after leaving home, he gets onto a tube train and never gets off again. No eyewitnesses. No trace of him on security cameras. Six months later, he’s still missing.
Out of options and desperate for answers, Sam’s wife Julia hires David Raker to track him down. Raker has made a career out of finding the lost. He knows how they think. And, in missing person cases, the only certainty is that everyone has something to hide – but in this case the secrets go deeper than anyone imagined.
Sister by Rosamund Lupton
When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her Tess’s disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister’s life – and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face.
The police, Beatrice’s fiancé and even her mother accept they have lost Tess, but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
Cambridge is sweltering during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet – Lost on the left, Found on the right – and the two never seem to balance.
Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, Jackson attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realise that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected…
Missing Rose by Linda Newbery
At quarter past two on a hot summer afternoon, Anna’s beautiful, headstrong older sister Rose disappears. And Anna was the last person to see her. Their parents, Rose’s friends, the police – no-one can find where Rose has gone or who might have taken her.
Twenty years later, Rose is still missing. Anna is the only one who still believes she might be alive, and unable to take control of her own life while her sister’s disappearance remains unsolved, she begins to hunt for the truth herself. But the search for Rose will uncover secrets she is not prepared for…
Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan
Margot Lewis is the agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner. Her advice column, ‘Dear Amy’, gets all kinds of letters – but none like the one she’s just received. It claims to be from Bethan Avery, a girl who went missing years ago.
At first Margot thinks it must be a hoax – but as more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public and Margot realises that this is a very real cry for help. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying. Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.
Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone. You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.
I Know Who Did It by Steve Mosby
Charlie Matheson died two years ago in a car accident. So how is a woman bearing a startling resemblance to her claiming to be back from the dead? Detective Mark Nelson is called in to investigate.
Every year Detective David Groves receives a birthday card for his son – even though he buried him years ago. This year, though, the card bears a different message: I know who did it.
Uncovering the truth in these cases will lead them on a dark journey where they must face their own wrongs as well as those done to those they love. It will take them to a place where justice is a game, and the punishments are severe.
The Woods by Harlan Coben
Paul Copeland’s sister went missing 20 years ago. Now raising a daughter alone, Cope balances family life with a career as a prosecutor. But when a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Cope, the well-buried secrets of the past are threatening everything.
Is this body one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive? Confronting his past, Cope must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to light…
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and the Avenue is alive with whispers. The neighbours blame her sudden disappearance on the heat wave, but ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly aren’t convinced – so they decide to take matters into their own hands.
As the girls go go door to door in search of clues, the cul-de-sac starts to give up its secrets and the amateur detectives uncover much more than ever imagined. As they try to make sense of what they’ve seen and heard, a complicated history of deception begins to emerge. Everyone on the Avenue has something to hide.
Are there any other books that should’ve made our list? Let us know in the comments below!