James Hawkins was a police commander in the U.K. for 20 years and a Canadian private investigator for a further 8 years. He was also director of education at the Canadian Institute for Environmental Investigations. His debut novel, Missing: Presumed Dead (2001), was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel.
Missing: Presumed Dead
Short-listed for the 2002 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel
Detective Inspector David Bliss has been transferred from London, England, to Hampshire in what appears to his new subordinates and superiors as a move down the career ladder. His first day on the job begins with a murder: Jonathan Dauntsey, son of the Major, willingly confesses to murdering his father. It’s an open-and-shut case, until the investigation stalls when the police can’t find the body.
D.I. Bliss follows a trail of clues that lead him back in time to the point where the central presumption of the case - a murdered father - comes into question. Who did Jonathan Dauntsey murder, if anyone at all? As the mystery of the murder begins to resolve itself, so does the mystery of Bliss’s transfer from the big city to a small town.
Hawkins does an excellent job of keeping the tension high in the bliss-bomber plot, while weaving a real brainteaser around the murder.