The Disappearing by Lori Roy review

5:15:00 AM


Last week I reviewed Lightwood by Steph Post, a Florida set thriller. A taut, high stakes, rollicking read. This week with the Disappearing by Lori Roy, I'll stay in Florida, but the tone and tempo slow down considerately. It starts promisingly;  Lane Fielding is tending bar, back in Wadell, her hometown, about to celebrate her divorce from a famous author, longing to see Mark, a cop, the love she left behind, when a strange fellow enters the bar. She thinks he's a journalist; they still come into town, three years after the reform school for boys was closed, chasing the story about her father, responsible for the wellbeing of the boys, a man accused of abusing those kids.
When the point of view changed in the next chapter, I was disappointed. I was resisting leaving Lane behind. I supposed the intricacy of the voices matches the meandering plot, past, and present interwoven in a tale of violence, abuse, lies, and denial erupting to the surface. The Disappearing gives room to several voices, including the bad guy, but Lane remains the most exciting character.
The focus of the story set in the past is the way the family is involved and affected by what went on at the Reform School for boys next door to the Fielding Plantation. This is based on a true story:  Waddell was the home to a reform school where the boys were beaten and sometimes killed, buried in unmarked graves.
In the present story, college student, Susan goes missing and soon after Lane's daughter Annalee disappears. You would think this leads to a race against the odds, a nail-biting thriller, but the Disappearing is foremost a family drama: what is considered a possible kidnapping or murder doesn't get the priority. Everyone is still trying to come to terms with the abuse perpetrated by the paterfamilias, nobody is dealing with it, or speaking about it healthily. Not one person in this family is capable of an honest and open conversation. But slowly things spill out, and of course, this is put in motion by the curiosity and empathy of the youngest among them.
It is not a scary read or a page-turner. The crisscrossing POW don't fit seamlessly, there's a lot of overlapping information, and I wasn't drawn in by the stalker/bad guy/or not? parts, but that is something I often dislike in thrillers. The POV of the so-called villain or perceived villain is tough to pull off. You don't want to be in their shoes, and to convince me that I should, you have to make it palatable somehow.
The Disappearing works well as a dark gothic family drama, haunted by its history, dripping in guilt, sin, you know the usual. Lane is a very sympathetic character, and her voice keeps the momentum going. To come back on Lightwood; that story also told by different POV's, a good choice. I think that structure works when the characters sit on opposite sides of a conflict, crisscrossing, and clashing. Here, it's used to unravel the truth slowly and can test your patience.
Of course, this story is tragic, twisted and the end could take you by surprise. It is not exactly my kind of tale, but its well written and has an engaging main character.

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