By Karen J Mossman
Like many people, I enjoy a good mystery. Stories where you need to know what happens next. Tales that pique your curiosity, and keep you turning the page to get to the end.
Over the years, I’ve found missing people intriguing. Why did they disappear in the first place? Was it an accident or something more sinister? Is there a happy ending or does it end in tragedy? Also, just as importantly, how does it affect those left behind?
Before I thought about becoming a published author, many of the stories I’d written over the years involved this mystery.
Did you know there are 300,000 people reported missing each year in the UK alone? That works out at almost 900 a day.
The first high profile case I recall was that of Lord Lucan in 1974. His wife claimed her husband had attacked her, and murdered their nanny. The police investigated but Lucan was never found and to this day it remains a mystery. You can read the full story here.
Journalist Amelia Hill wrote a fascinating article in the Guardian in 2012 about a girl who became pregnant. Her boyfriend didn’t want to know, and her parents told her to get an abortion. She felt she had no option but to run away. She had her baby and said her life had been a lie ever since.
As part of my research I went onto the missing person’s website. There were many stories about people who had disappeared, and those left behind. One mum showed the bedroom of her son left just as it was in 2006 when he disappeared. The torment she must live with wondering whether he is still alive is hard to imagine.
Another high profile case was that of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh who disappeared in 1985. An attractive young woman who had penciled in her diary she was meeting a Mr Kipper. She was never seen again, her remains never found, and they didn’t trace Mr Kipper. As a result estate agents changed the way they worked and Suzy’s mother founded a Trust in the name of her daughter to deal with personal safety.
Not all cases are as high profile, and in 2012 an appeal was launched for a missing woman who had not long given birth. She was already suffering from anxiety and depression. It could have gone either way and for a few days, everyone lived in hope until they found her body.
I once read a story called Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver. It told an intriguing tale about a young woman who visited her sister and when she arrived there is no one home. The whole family had disappeared right in the middle of what they were doing. How could they just disappear, leaving their dog, and food cooking? It’s a great read and that element of mystery was a key factor.
Little Ben Needham was aged just 21 months when he disappeared in 1991. He was on holiday on the Greek Island of Kos with his family. He was being looking after by his grandparents at their farmhouse when he vanished. It made the news all over the world and it finally looks like the boy wandered onto a nearby building site and died as the result of an accident. More details are here.
Madeline McCann is one of the most famous stories. In 2007, the four-year-old girl was abducted while on holiday with her family. She was a beautiful little thing with blonde hair and big blue eyes. She captured everyone’s hearts. Despite a massive investigation and search. The police had no viable leads and no trace of her was ever found. Twelve years on, the story still hits the headlines occasionally.
There are many more stories with no conclusions offered and it’s frustrating not to have an ending. I’ve always wondered what makes people want to disappear in the first place. What are their stories?
One day watching a television programme that searches for missing people, I had an idea for a story. What if you were the missing person, and suddenly your face appears on screen? The secret you had been trying to keep was now out.
Found! tells the story of Amanda, who had problems with her brothers. She takes off to Scotland and creates a new life for herself. When she and her boyfriend are watching television, it is her face that comes up onscreen and Jamie, her boyfriend shocked by what he hears.
The people left behind don’t always know the reasons their loved ones leave. It affects them in difference ways and many suffer for years. So in this story, I’ve included the bewildered family and how they dealt with her disappearance.
Some stories do not have ending and we are not always given that neatly wrapped up conclusion. With Found! I wanted to round it up and conclude it, so get your tissues ready for an sweet ending!
Down by the River is also a tale that involves a missing person. This one was inspired by the 90s song Hazard by Richard Marx. I added a new main character and it has been described as a crime thriller with a touch of paranormal..