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The Disappeared: A Novel (Jenny Cooper) Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Jenny Cooper
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439156980
  • ASIN: B003D7JTKE
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,904,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Still raw from an acrimonious divorce, former lawyer Jenny Cooper pops pills to control anxiety as she slowly adjusts to her new career as the coroner for the Severn Vale District, near Bristol, England, in Hall's solid U.S. debut. When a distraught mother asks Cooper to hold an inquest to declare her son legally dead, Cooper is hesitant to take the case. Nazim Jamal and a friend disappeared seven years earlier while at university and, according to the police, probably fled to Afghanistan to join al-Qaeda at the urging of a radical mosque. Nazim's mother is adamant her son was not an extremist. As Cooper's investigation broadens, she's met with resistance not only from the police but also MI5, who claim Nazim's disappearance may have national security implications. Hall (The Coroner) creates an appealingly flawed heroine, but struggles with pacing and the difficult task of precisely defining the coroner's role in solving crimes. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The second appearance of Briton Jenny Cooper, Severn Vale District coroner, comes hot on the heels of her debut in The Coroner (2009). Continuing to struggle with demons from her past, Jenny relies on prescription meds and therapy to keep her work life steady. That’s a particularly tall order this time when an inquest she’s conducting on the death of a young Muslim student puts her at odds with both MI5 and the local police. With an assistant more loyal to the cops than to the coroner, and a disreputable attorney playing on her anxieties, Cooper is definitely struggling; the boy’s death may have been murder, and the integrity of her office is at stake. The pressure intensifies when the dead student’s mother is found murdered. A bit too tenative about her investigative role to be aligned with classic female American private eyes Warshawski or Millhone, Cooper, an intriguingly flawed and appealing character, is more like Lynda La Plante’s British copper Anna Travis. A series to watch. --Stephanie Zvirin

More About the Author

M. R. Hall, a screenwriter, producer and former criminal barrister, a profession he left due to a constitutional inability to prosecute, is author of The Coroner. Educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford, he lives in the Wye Valley in Monmouthshire with his wife, journalist Patricia Carswell, and their two sons. Aside from writing, his main passion is the preservation and planting of woodland. In his spare moments, he is mostly to be found amongst trees.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Silly Sister VINE VOICE on June 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I sort of had to force myself to finish this one. There wasn't anything wrong with the writing, or the subject matter, and I think that given a different main character the book would have been interesting simply because it introduces the US reader to the way a coroner functions in Great Britain, which is very different from what we are familiar with. But even that made me feel a bit removed from this as a work of fiction. While it was informative, I couldn't get too involved in the mystery without being able to understand Coroner Cooper's duties and anticipate the significance of the clues she unearthed and what she would be able to do with them, or not. It was a bit frustrating.

And speaking of Coroner Jenny Cooper: I absolutely could not like that woman. She was weak and self absorbed and so lacking in judgment and confidence (and maternal instinct) that I actively disliked her. She was popping pills every time she encountered the slightest rough patch, was digging up and beating herself over the head with old relationships, letting her son down again and again (although he was nearly as unpleasant as she) and using authority in the place of wisdom. As I said, if there had been a different main character it could have made all the difference. Jenny Cooper would have to undergo a major personality conversion for me to want to spend more time with her, so I can truthfully say I wouldn't go out of my way to get the next Jenny Cooper installment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: During her six months as coroner for the Severn Vale District, Jenny Cooper had known only a handful of corpses remain unidentified for more than a day or two.

Coroner Jenny Cooper is contacted by the mother of a British Muslim student for a formal inquest on her son. He, and his friend, both disappeared from their college dorm rooms seven years' ago. The authorities claim they went to Afghanistan for terrorist training and failed to do a thorough investigation. Jenny also has a unidentified Jane Doe in the morgue whose body is stolen but traces of radioactivity left behind. How are the two cases linked and why are the authorities trying so hard to suppress the inquest?

It is very difficult when you really like an author's first book, yet find their second book so disappointing. What worked well in Hall's first book, "The Coroner," seemed to come completely undone here.

The protagonist, Jenny Cooper, moved from being a woman finding strength in spite of her issues, to an insipid, woman influenced and overwhelmed by everyone; her son, her clerk, her sometimes boyfriend, the police and some rather mysterious lawyer. Rather than being sympathetic, I found her annoying. At times, disability notwithstanding, her behavior was so unconscionable it wasn't even excusable by being fictional.

None of the characters were fully developed. Worse yet, I found I didn't care about or feel connected to any of them. The only exception was the boy's mother, Mrs. Jamal, and she was poorly used by the story.

There was a sense of place but not strong enough to give me a visual sense of where the story occurred. The author does have a good ear for dialogue but that's rather damning with faint praise.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jenny Cooper, Bristol's new coroner, has a body she can't identify, an office in upheaval, and a grieving mother demanding answers. But when she begins poking around, a regular inquest into the fate of two missing Muslim boys turns into a national security crisis, and Jenny finds herself in the eye of the kind of storm a regular British civil servant should never endure.

This book's dust flap copy compares this first novel in a new series to Patricia Cornwell, but I almost see more Ian Rankin in this multi-layered tale of crime, deception, and duplicity. M.R. Hall creates a character of great complexity in Jenny Cooper, and thrusts her into the kind of circumstance all loyal desk workers secretly dread. And just when she thinks she's figured everything out, she discovers another secret in this layer cake of deceit.

Jenny Cooper is damaged goods, struggling to keep herself and her life together. When her job makes excruciatingly unreasonable demands of her, she responds with great aplomb, but the moment things lighten up, her anxieties leave her doubled over in agony. But the need to return a verdict on the missing boys doesn't relieve her of a troubled teenage son, a tempestuous love life, her fragile mental state, or personal secrets waiting to emerge.

The ending is a bit of a let-down. The narration admits that the story has ramped expectations up so high, the resolution is somewhat anticlimactic. Still, getting to that resolution brings readers through such twists and turns, ramping up such exquisite tension, that most readers will probably forgive that disappointing ending. After all, we read mysteries for their spine-tingling middles, not the inevitably prosaic ends.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tina Morris on April 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Generally I am very fond of mysteries that feature complicated lead characters and an even more complicated plot. Both work when they are well-developed. This novel left me wanting in both regards and took real effort to finish. The main character, Jenny Cooper, is a truly troubled character, and we find out from the onset that she has some serious issues to deal with that lie deeply buried in her past, but aside from the occasional innuendo, her pill-popping and visits to her psychiatrist, we do not really get closer to understanding her. The relationship with her son is fraught with unresolved conflict as well, and if that were not enough, she has an on-again, off-again relationship with a neighbor. All of that, though, is only the backdrop to a case that develops like a box of a 100 pieces that have been spilled all over the place. When Jenny in her function as a coroner is pleaded upon by the mother of a young man who has disappeared in 2002, she reluctantly opens an inquest. The story has real potential and there are some interesting characters moving in an out of it, but the author is never really able to develop that arc of suspense that would have you glued to the book. Mr Hall shows his professional background as a lawyer clearly in the courtroom descriptions and altercations, here his narrative is on terra firma, but the rest of the novel is uneven, especially in terms of plot development and ends with a shock revelation about Jenny that comes across as a heavy-handed cliff-hanger for the next installment in this series.
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