Tim Weaver’s What Remains is the latest addition to the atmospheric and suspenseful series about the cases taken on by missing persons investigator, David Raker. The success of the story lies in the fact that, even taken out of the context of the series of which it is a part, it seems to be the culmination of a series of harrowing and traumatic events. Such events are paralleled by the culmination of the relationship between David Raker and Colm Healy – a damaged former MET detective whose life has been ruined by an obsession with the unresolved case around which the story revolves. The complexity of the novel should not be understated: its many twists and turns result in a thoroughly engaging novel that consistently hold the reader’s attention until the final page.
Weaver’s command of the narrative is admirable, and works well alongside with a totally unpredictable and engaging plot. The narrative is largely told by David Raker. However, it is occasionally interspersed with the memories of another narrator – anonymous at first, but yet a source of great intrigue throughout the story, having been present on the night of the murders around which the novel centres. Gail, April and Abigail – the young mother and her twin daughters who lived on a local council estate – are the victims of a seemingly senseless triple homicide. The contrast between the bitter, damaged Healy and the innocence and purity of the twins – whose murder he obsesses over – is curious and provides ample ground for the novel to expand across the complex avenues of the murder case to which Raker finds himself increasingly drawn.
Turbulent and darkly riveting, the novel itself maintains a constant sense of nostalgia and mourning for those who have been lost, interwoven with hope for the mystery of the murdered mother, and her daughters, to be solved. The only criticism of the novel might be that the pacing could be increased: indeed, some chapters – although they add atmosphere and build-up of suspense to the novel – contribute very little to the narrative, and delay the more climactic moments of the novel. However, success lies in the fact that readers are left guessing right up to the final few pages of the novel, as well as being frequently shocked by seemingly impossible turns of events as the story unravels. Ultimately the novel is a mix of brutal descriptions of murders and breakdown of the psyche of Healy in the face of horrific killings. This is perfectly paired with the heartfelt motivation, and hope for closure that arose from the somewhat unexpected love that drives the novel and its ever-evolving characters.
Image: Tony Webster