A tale of intrigue, suspense and double-lives forms the basis of Arlene Hunt's latest novel 'Missing Presumed Dead'.

A two-year-old girl called Katie is abducted from a beach in Ireland as she plays with her brother in the sunshine back in 1980. She is presumed dead by most of those who search for her on the day, fearing that she has wandered off and been washed out to sea. One man protests the case after he sees a suspiciuos-looking man forcefully dragging a child away from the beach on the day but his claims fall on deaf ears where the guards are concerned.

Twenty-six years later Katie's mother receives the locket that she was wearing on the day she disappeared in the post. It chills her to the bone. The case is further complicated when a  young woman turns up on the doorstep of a retired GP and shoots him dead. Could the girl be the missing Katie and why has she returned with such over-bearing ghosts? Two families, one in Ireland and one in England, are looking for answers, and private investigators Sarah Kenny and John Quigley may be able to solve the riddle, but not without encountering some very sticky situations along the way.

From here on Arlene Hunt takes us on a gripping journey – bringing us lies, secrets, double-personalities and heartbreak. Her characters are well developed and flawed enough to make them believable, without losing our sympathy. The storyline, while a little far-fetched at times, brings us into a dangerous underworld of crime and deception and is, almost always, enthralling.

Hunt has a great ability to inject suspense into her writing, making you want to keep reading and forcing you to forget time constraints in the real-world and that's surely what the escapism of reading fiction is all about.

While 'Missing Presumed Dead' is action-packed, it manages to successfully combine a gritty crime storyline with a softer human story.

Linda McGee