Title: The Other Side by Mark Leichliter
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication date: 8th June 2021
How do you start an investigation when you have no evidence that a crime has been committed?
When a seventeen-year-old girl abruptly disappears, the ensuing investigation probes dead-ends seemingly as deep as Flathead Lake—the geographic and investigative center of The Other Side. In sleepy Lakeside, Montana, Britany Rodgers’s disappearance is as unexpected as the sudden, violent appearance of a storm sweeping off the lake. The search to find her unearths crimes but none that can explain her disappearance, and Detectives Steven Wendell and Stacey Knudson face one empty trail after another.
Wendell, unlike the girl for whom he searches, has never quite fit the expected norms of his peers. Meticulous, cerebral, a loner, he has the distinction of being the oldest graduate of the Montana Police Academy. When he and Knudson grow suspicious that Britany has been murdered, they have scant evidence and no body.
A massive thank you to the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review!
The Other Side is a compelling mystery that follows the disappearance of seventeen-year-old Britany Rogers. Detectives Steven Wendell and Stacy Knudsen are assigned the case, however, they face one empty trail after another as there’s no sign of Britany’s body and scant evidence to explain her disappearance. Wendell attempts to retrace her steps and uncovers some shocking crimes along the way.
I really admired Wendell’s character because despite him being assigned the case nearly forty-eight hours after Britany’s disappearance when potential leads have grown cold, he still does everything he can to ascertain if she’s still alive and what really happened to her. His character really stood out for me, perhaps because of how he approached the investigation. At forty-eight, he’s considerably older than his peers and he’s considered a loner because he’s not interested in making friends or going on trips. When he first takes on the investigation, he interviews Britany’s closest friend and then he retraces their steps and walks the route they might have taken before Britany disappeared. I liked how he took the time to get to know Britany’s character and then retraced her steps. It felt like he really cared about finding her and that it was more than just a case to him. He could see beyond the investigation to a teenage girl and a worried family who loved her and wanted her to come home.
Another aspect I admired about his character is that even though he’s been warned countless times not to get close to victims or their families, he never gives up on investigating Britany’s disappearance even when the trail runs cold and other cases take priority. Hers is one he continues to revisit and investigate in his own time. It means the story is quite drawn out but in my opinion it made it more realistic because it wasn’t instantly solved. Wendell constantly faces challenges and numerous of his leads end up hitting a dead end, but he never gives up on Britany and he’s determined to provide closure for her family. I admired him for that and despite how harrowing the investigation was at times, I enjoyed seeing his way of thinking and his determination to pick up the next lead after the previous one had grown cold.
Another character I admired is Knudson. I enjoyed her scenes with Wendell and thought they worked really well together. They both seemed to knuckle down and get the job done without wasting any time, even if certain approaches made them uncomfortable. One example is Greg Evans, who is a caretaker for the Tomlinson estate, which Wendell believes was Britany’s last known location before she disappeared. He’s a very slippery character and there’s cracks in his alibi. Knudson has to have some pretty uncomfortable conversations with him in a bid to get him to open up more about what else he gets up to when he’s watching the house. Evans isn’t the only suspect they visit though as Leichliter throws in plenty of red herrings to throw you off and it left me furiously trying to work out if any of them were involved in Britany’s disappearance before I reached the shocking reveal. I was very impressed with the amount of twists Leichliter includes to throw you off and I was definitely left chasing the wrong lead. I didn’t see the ending coming at all and it was very shocking.
If you’re a fan of books about missing persons, you definitely won’t want to miss this one. The Other Side is filled with plenty of twists and shocking revelations that will leave you picking your jaw up off the floor. It will leave you wanting more and not being able to turn the pages fast enough as it races towards what really happened to Britany the night she disappeared.