Searching for Summer confounded all my preconceived ideas of what a book about a missing teenager would be like. Of course there is despair and self-blame, but Summer’s mother Mirabelle is such a large, intense personality that I was instantly involved with her search around the streets of Edinburgh, longing to find Summer and fully understanding Mirabelle’s obsession with discovering what had happened.
“The loneliness of loss was seeping into her with the light drizzle that fell.
“Summer!” she howled to the almost empty, darkened streets fanning out from the roundabout.”
Interwoven with the search for Summer are Mirabelle’s memories of the way her Jamaican father had also disappeared when she was a small child, leaving behind his clothes and brand new shoes. Her dysfunctional mother had not provided Mirabelle with a role model so perhaps it is not surprising that she felt so inadequate as a mother to her capable daughter, Summer. But she has friends to help her, including Detective Inspector Sam Burns, with whom she has recently rekindled a relationship, and her supportive younger sister Yvonne.
As time goes by, hope of finding Summer fades and yet there are clues which she clings on to, even if they involve petty criminal Dermot, who pushes drugs and acts as a pimp. Mirabelle refuses to look after her own health but she begins to help others who have also lost children in the Edinburgh area. Will there be a happy ending? Will Mirabelle pick up her life again and give Sam a chance? One thing is certain, I shall be reading the continuing story in Traces of Read, the second book in The Reluctant Detective series.