Book Review: Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen
You leave for work one morning.
Another day in your normal life.
Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn't been at work for weeks.
It's as if he never existed.
But that's not possible, is it?
And there is worse still to come.
Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.
Published 23rd March by Headline (UK)
I'm going to be straight up here, I have mixed feelings about this book. For seventy five percent of it I thought it was probably going to be quite disappointing. However, a huge twist that had completely evaded my suspicion was revealed that had me thinking "ooooh...clever!" and look back at what I had read in a completely different light.
The gist of this story is that high achieving Hannah - a strong, workaholic professional, comes home to find her boyfriend appears to have left her. Only he's literally wiped every trace of himself away. Every single belonging he owned has gone, but so has every photo, email and phone call record from Hannah's phone. Hannah's world crumbles and as her personal life falls apart, so does her professional life. And while at her most vulnerable, it seems that someone is playing mind games with her. Where has Matt gone, and who is it that just won't leave her alone?
So the premise is excellent. I really wanted to know where Matt had gone. Had he gone of his own free will or was something more sinister at play? Do any of the people closest to Hannah know anything? I had some ideas spinning about my head. They were wrong. The writing is very, very readable and easy to speed through and this combined with my intrigue at Matt's disappearance kept me reading at a speedy pace.
Where I found it problematic was that I just didn't find the characters convincing. I felt that Hannah was portrayed initially as a very strong and capable character, yet she folded immediately and became almost pathetic at times. I lost some sympathy for her and struggled to connect or relate with her. I also disliked the other characters, in particular her best friend Katie and struggled to understand this relationship at all. On the other hand, having now read the book fully, it makes more sense. I think the atmosphere that was being created in the first part of the book just didn't quite come across as well as it could have, meaning it lost some of it's intensity and build up to the big twist.
The twist when it did come was not what I'd been expecting at all, and actually is a really, really good one. It also tackles a subject that is not talked about enough, has stigma and shame attached to it and has a message that is important to get out there. I can't reveal it though - so you're going to have to trust me on this one and read it yourself! Gone Without A Trace would make a great TV drama I think, I can vividly see how it could play out.
I feel really conflicted summing this book up. There was a lot I liked. It's an easy, speedy read with an intriguing premise - ideal for holiday or lazy afternoon reading when you have a large chunk of time to spend reading. It has a twist that I have neither seen before or expected, and the final quarter of this book completely redeemed it for me and left me feeling glad that I'd spent the time reading it. I would absolutely read more by this author, as I really liked her engaging and pacey writing style. It's just a shame that I personally found it difficult to believe in or relate to any of the characters, which in turn had an effect on my overall enjoyment of it.
(I read a copy supplied by the publisher)