Review: Searching for Celia by Elizabeth Ridley
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Bold Strokes Books in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger warning: This book contains content about the death of a child.
Internationally famous American thriller author Dayle Salvesen is looking forward to catching up with her old friend Celia Frost while in London for a writer's conference. On arrival Dayle is devastated to learn that Celia has apparently committed suicide. Something about the news doesn't sit right with Dayle since there is no body and a search of Celia's flat unearths a passport and train ticket under a false name and five thousand pounds in cash. Dayle suspects that Celia's disappearance has something to do with her work trying to help women trafficked into sex slavery in the UK. The police do too, and claim that Celia is not as innocent as she and her girlfriend Edwina make her out to be. Dayle begins to question how well she really knew Celia and what she might be capable of.
It was refreshing to read a book in which the characters happened to be lesbians, but the story wasn't about that. Searching for Celia is not a romance, it's a thriller. I enjoyed the noir vibe to it, complete with what I think was a reference to Orson Welles' film The Third Man, but the ending somewhat ruined it for me. It felt a bit like the author chickened out of the bleak book it was going to be. Then again, it's not exactly a happily ever after.
Without wanting to spoil the story, there is a portion of the book which deals with the loss of a child so beautifully that it actually made me cry. I liked Dayle's remark to Edwina when Edwina said she couldn't understand what it's like to lose the love of your life: “I don't believe in a hierarchy of grief. Pain is just pain, that's all.”
Searching for Celia is an old school thriller, reminiscent of classic hard boiled crime fiction, which happens to feature several lesbian characters. It's also quite moving in parts. It would probably appeal to fans of J. M. Redmann's Micky Knight series.
Published: June 2015
Rated: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆