Friday, August 13, 2010

Still Missing

Still Missing
Author: Chevy Stevens
St. Martin's Press, 2010
352 pages

I can't remember how or where I heard about this book (just published in June), but I'm glad I did. In her debut novel, Canadian author Chevy Stevens produces a nail-biting thriller. Main character Annie is a 32-year old real estate agent whose life is pretty normal: career, dog, boyfriend, overbearing mother, etc. But all is about to change when a would-be homebuyer abducts her during an open house. Her creepy captor takes her to his hidden hideaway in the mountains, where he has created a cabin prison from which there is no escape. There Annie experiences unimaginable tortures (warning: very graphic at times - this is not a "cozy" by any means) and learns some horrifying truths about her captor's past.

We know that Annie survives, because she's telling the story. But how? Each chapter is titled with "Session" (instead of Chapter) and a number. The book is written in first person with a blend of tenses (past and present) as if Annie is recounting her experiences with a psychiatrist. It's clever, and for the most part, it works. We learn not only about Annie's time in captivity, but of events in her childhood and in her family's history.  The sum of all the parts equals a compelling story that is much more complex than I expected.

Clearly, Annie will never be the same. This is one part of Missing Persons stories that you don't often hear about -- the return home and its affect not just on the victim but on friends and family. The police  investigation that follows seems to be a little unrealistic at times -- particularly Annie's relationship with the lead investigator. I'm just not sure that a seasoned professional like Gary would have behaved that way in real life. But :::sigh::: it's fiction, and I know certain things are expected.

Despite a few slow points in the second half of the book, overall this is a very good read, and an impressive debut for a new author. The Vancouver Island setting was a nice change, and when the motive for the abduction is finally revealed, you'll probably be just as surprised as I was. I just didn't see it coming.