How Much for that Kidney in the Window: A review for The Missings, a novel by Peg Brantley

The weekend was murder and it was awesome, if a little on the short side. Got to say, I’ve been trying to find a good murder mystery for a while and found myself pleasantly surprised by The Missings, a novel by Peg Brantley batting at 376 pages.


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Now I said it was a little on the short side for two reasons: one, it is most definitely not 376 pages. About thirty of those are acknowledgements and a preview of another book. Two, the chapters are extremely short–we’re talking short like Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech before getting cut off by Kanye West. Anyway, I like short chapters well enough, but I’ve always been more of a “linger longer” scene-reader myself. Keep that in mind if you think you’d like this book. Now on to the good stuff:

Chase is a police officer in the town of Aspen, Colorado. When he finds two victims in a row who have similar physical characteristics, he’s sure he found a link. With his team, Chase discovers more murder cases in the last year with similar characteristics. The interesting thing? All are illegal aliens. The gruesome connection? All victims have had their organs surgically removed. The problem? Noncitizens aren’t known for their trust of American police officers. The case would be impossible to solve without the Hispanic community’s help.

Brantley did an excellent job weaving together the lives of over ten distinct characters and their roles in the Aspen murder mystery, both good and bad. Whether telling from the point of view of Chase, a cop with a soft spot for murder victim families, or of Daniel, a Hispanic detective who struggles with his inability to fit in either the American or Immigrant world, the author shows me characters that are deep and dynamic.

I struggled with this book mostly in the telling of the story—like I said, the characters were interesting and the plot was compelling, but the chapters were so short I felt like I only glimpsed what was happening. I wanted more! I also got lost at times because I had to remember so many names. With more development and less cut-scenes, I think Brantley could make a mystery that was just as punchy but with soft spots where I could catch my breath. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.