Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review: The Missings

By Dani Greer, Chief Red Pencil

When I first heard about Peg Brantley’s new novel, The Missings, I wanted to know the Gore Meter Rating. Most of you know my weak heart can’t handle much more than a good cozy mystery when it comes to spine-tingling reads. It turns out the first chapter was about as gory as it got. The thrill level was definitely alive and well in this fast-paced novel though. But what thrilled me most of all is something we don’t see all that often in a plot-driven read: great character development.

All of us feel fear, but I recently read in Psychology Today that we are born with only a few, such as fear of falling and fear of starvation. That means humans have acquired a lot of other fears through learned behavior. Some of the most common ones include fear of insects; fear of water or fire; fear of public speaking; fear of rejection; fear of nuclear war; fear of success or failure.

In The Missings, Brantley plays on common fears many of us have experienced and they include:
  • Harm to our children – every parent’s worst nightmare
  • Deportation – an issue in many ethnic communities
  • Fear of the police or other authorities – could happen to any of us
  • Fear of death – another common one
  • Fear of losing a loved one – physically or emotionally, this book tackles both
  • Fear of retribution
  • Fear of falling in love
  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Fear of groups – especially if we don’t understand what they represent
Brantley explores these fears and more, as she artfully weaves the perceived and real threats in and through the fundamental theme of the mystery. I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll just post the book synopsis here which will give you plenty of clues:

Aspen Falls, Colorado.
Secrets within a community.
Secrets within a family.

Detective Chase Waters finds himself working the most interesting case of his career—one that comes closer to home than he could ever imagine.

Are the mutilated bodies of young men and women the result of cult… or commerce?

Fire up your Kindles, kids, and download a copy of the book by clicking here!

Here’s some information about the author:

A Colorado native, Peg Brantley is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. She and her husband make their home southeast of Denver, and have shared it with the occasional pair of mallard ducks and their babies, snapping turtles, peacocks, assorted other birds, foxes, a deer named Cedric and a Bichon named McKenzie.

You can connect on Facebook and on Twitter, and here's the link to her website.

Have any questions for Peg? Here’s one for starters. Where in heck is Aspen Falls, Colorado, Peg? And is there a sequel to this book? I'm intrigued with that love story you've started and want to read more about the two characters involved!


  1. Definitely sounds like one to add to my "To Read" list. Is it a good idea to read Red Tide first, or is this a stand alone?

  2. Sounds intriguing! Also, I prefer character driven, rather than plot driven books. This one sounds like a great possibility!

    Morgan Mandel

  3. And you addressed your fear of gore, Dani! So tell us—since you brought up the question—what was the gore factor? I find almost any amount of gore tolerable as long as it serves the story, but do not share the interest in gratuitous maiming and gouging and vomiting that some authors seem to have.

  4. Hi, Dani! Thanks for the wonderful review!

    Aspen Fals is a fictional college town that is between Aspen and Snowmass. I love mingling factual things with my made-up little town.

    I'm working on my third book which is also based out of Aspen Falls, but like RED TIDE and THE MISSINGS, THE SACRIFICE will be a standalone. After I finish this one, I'll consider making one or all of them into a series.

  5. Thanks, Peg. Kathryn, I have scales of 1-10 for gore, sex, and other themes that work on my stomach. This one rated maybe as high as a 6 and only in the first chapter when the bodies are discovered with missing organs. But it was well-handled, and maybe I was a bit desensitized because of cattle mutilations in Colorado. That happened when I a teen eons ago and I remember being morbidly fascinated. By chapter 2, I was so drawn into the stories and the characters, it was a fast romp to the end. Thanks for visiting us, Peg!

  6. Fear of holidays for me, Christopher. All that endless get-together stuff when I'd rather just be at home. Hahaha.

  7. This Kindle book is a bargain, too. $2.99 and we should probably suggest Amazon gift cards for holiday giving, since so many folks have Kindles. If not, they'll surely get them this year.

  8. The paperback will be out as soon as we can get the colors right on the cover.

  9. Peg, I do notice how dark the cover looks online. Something to keep in mind for sure, because that's the first "grab" for some readers.

  10. Very interesting review — I might even give myself permission to read a book for pleasure rather than for editing.

    I, too, base my stories in Colorado, using both fictional and real locations. Small towns, in particular, are ficitonal places, whereas Denver and Colorado Springs serve my stories well as themselves.

    I'll wait for the paperback to come out. I spend many hours a day looking at a monitor, so the printed page will be a vacation for my eyes.

    Thanks for posting this one, Dani. Peg will gain a reader (me) because of your review. :-)

  11. You'll enjoy this book, Linda. Interesting you mention your books have CO locations, too. My NaNoWriMo mystery is located on the CO plains and I'm making up names and mixing up landmarks to suit my purposes. Power, baby! :D

  12. This sounds like a good read! Fear--so useful in our writing!!

  13. I hope whoever reads THE MISSINGS gets a few hours of quality entertainment.

    Again, thanks Dani, for spotlighting my little effort.

  14. Thanks for joining us, Peg! Can't wait for your next book. Hurry up and write it. ;)

  15. I read Red Tide and enjoyed it, so I know I will like the new book.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.