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Finding Sophie


Finding Sophie

Imran Mahmood is a practicing criminal barrister in England and Wales. He utilizes all of this experience in his second novel, FINDING SOPHIE, which features some stunningly realistic courtroom scenes as part of a much larger story about a grieving family.

Harry and Zara King are mourning the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of their 17-year-old daughter, Sophie. The book opens inside Courtroom Three at London’s famous Old Bailey courthouse, one year after Sophie vanished. The subject is a murder trial, but we are not made aware of the victim’s identity or who the accused party may be. Subsequent chapters will slowly piece these answers together, and they are quite eye-opening, even shocking.

"FINDING SOPHIE is an addictive read that Imran Mahmood tells with so much heart. It will reach deep into the soul of any parent who decides to pick it up."

It has become a common practice in modern thriller writing to have chapters told from the points of view of different characters. In this case, it makes a lot of sense, and the chapters told from the sometimes differing points of view of Harry and Zara make for a nice puzzle of a novel. Sophie seems to be a well-adjusted young lady with mostly normal, if not slightly overprotective, parents. After all, she is their only child. Following an uncommon difference of opinion, Sophie indicates that she is going for a walk. That is the last time they ever see their daughter.

As the novel progresses, chapter by chapter and revelation by revelation, readers begin to get the many different pieces of the puzzle to try to understand what may have happened to Sophie. Up front, none of her mates seem to know anything. That is until her BFF, Emily, begins to come clean about Sophie having a secret boyfriend --- described only as older and working at a pub --- and eventually confesses to receiving a text from her a day after she was reported missing. Of course, Emily erased that message as she wasn’t aware what was going on with her friend.

A business card found in Sophie’s room leads Harry to Katya, a spiritualist and tarot card reader who regularly met with Sophie. Even though he does not believe in magic of any kind, Harry agrees to let Katya read him. What she produces during their first meeting ends up being quite telling. Katya sees an image of a wall with Sophie, indicating that she was blocking a secret from everyone or had some sort of secret hidden inside a wall.

This revelation causes Sophie’s anguished, desperate parents to rip apart her room in search of any clues. What they turn up is completely unexpected. It is at this point that they make some decisions that will color their future, as well as their daughter’s.

Teenage characters are difficult to write, especially in mysteries and thrillers, as they behave so unpredictably and are prone to making bad decisions. That’s not to say that adults aren’t equally capable of this sort of behavior, which becomes quite clear when discussing Harry and Zara. In the chapters told from Harry’s point of view, Sophie’s name is only depicted with an “S,” almost like it has been redacted. We learn only later that this is symbolic of the fact that Harry is unable to say his daughter’s name aloud ever since she has gone missing. Even though they have a solid marriage, Harry and Zara are human beings who handle grief differently and, as such, become physically separated during the course of the story.

FINDING SOPHIE is an addictive read that Imran Mahmood tells with so much heart. It will reach deep into the soul of any parent who decides to pick it up.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on March 9, 2024

Finding Sophie
by Imran Mahmood