The Disappeared – M R Hall

TDMRH Officially published on 1 Jan 2010, The Disappeared is the second in the Jenny Cooper 'coroner series' by M R Hall, introduced in The Coroner last year.  Here, Cooper faces an unidentified 'Jane Doe' corpse and a distraught mother, Mrs Amira Jamal, as The Disappeared opens.  As with The Coroner, it's Hall's remarkably intricate plotting that keeps the pages turning as the reader has no idea what could possibly some next.  Also like The Coroner, Hall engages in a theme.  With The Coroner it was youths in custody and with The Disappeared he explores Muslim radicalism.


Mrs Jamal's son Nazim, along with his friend Rafi Hassan disappeared seven years ago.  Now, Mrs Jamal has a court order that notes that Nazim can be presumed dead and allows her to seek an inquest and thus an investigation into his disappearance through Cooper.  For Mrs Jamal this is the last chance saloon to seek the truth of what happened when Nazim disappeared, why the police investigation fell so short, and to determine the involvement of the security services whose actions are both powerful and silent.

The Disappeared delivers good insight into the workings of a coroner, firmly establishing the emotions of all concerned, but without slowing the plot.  Cooper continues to function at an enviable and impressive level considering her ongoing struggle with her own emotional and psychological traumas.  (Her medication in The Disappeared is also better-researched and stated, lending more credibility to the proceedings.)  Above all, she remains very human and frail, but finds strength in performing her professional duties.

Where the second in a series can be a disappointment, I found The Disappeared to be better than The Coroner.  Hall certainly knows how to draw you in.  He hooks you like a fish on emotions and plot and drags you into the whirlpool of the story he has to tell.

The Disappeared may frighten you with its tales involving our security services, but it's best to be informed.  For a sojourn into the unknown, The Disappeared will engage and make you think again.

[My thanks to Maxine at Petrona for the proof copy from Macmillan.]

6 thoughts on “The Disappeared – M R Hall

  1. Margot Kinberg

    Thanks for this terric review; I’ve always liked sleuths who have frailties and weaknesses as well as their skill, intelligence and their deductive abilities. I like books with themes, too.

  2. Maxine

    Nice review, CFR. I didn’t entirely share your view of this novel as will be revealed when my review is published at Euro Crime! (I liked The Disappeared, but not as much as The Coroner. As a reader, I prefer detection to thriller, and there is more of the thriller element in The Disappeared cf the Coroner).
    A very happy new year to you, by the way. I’m looking forward to lots of posts on your excellent blog in 2010.

  3. crimeficreader

    Thanks both for your comments.
    Maxine, I have to admit to being of the opposite tendency; I preferred The Disappeared over The Coroner. For me it was more complete and polished, with the plot carrying it to great effect. I was not convinced about Cooper’s life in The Coroner and neither did that aspect add anything meaty to proceedings, for me.

  4. mm

    i read the disappeared and
    was bored by the characters personal problems. I found it annoying that the fate of the university students wasn’t more intriguing. I had conjured up some great twists, expectations running high and then struggled to finish the last 25 pages.

  5. Nina McLain

    I liked it but I did find the end a bit of a letdown.If MI5 or whatever they are called really have that much power in a post 911 world, it really is scary.I also wonder did Alec really die?

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