By: Mary Torjussen
Publication Date: 4/18/2017
My Rating: 3 Stars
GONE WITHOUT A TRACE by Mary Torjussen is a twisty suspense of domestic suspense. When things are not always as they seem. Dark secrets are revealed, a learned behavior with a role reversal in play.
Hannah, age thirty-two is all about appearances. Material possessions, status, and seeking her dad’s approval. Underneath, she is insecure. She is a grown woman and has managed to gain a position as a senior manager for a large accounting firm. She knows her dad would be proud.
She has been away at a training conference in Liverpool and on her 200-mile drive home to her live-in boyfriend, Matt to celebrate. However, when she arrives at home with the champagne, Matt is not home, nor any of his belongings. He has stripped everything in their house of his. Her things are still there in the same place.
At first, she thinks it is a burglar; however, the more she investigates, she realizes some of the more expensive stuff is still there. Things she brought into the relationship.
Everything has been removed erasing all existence of Matt. Including emails, phone numbers, social media, photos, etc. She cannot understand why he left without even a note and she is not able to get in touch with him. Hannah unravels with a capital U.
We learn early on Hannah is an unreliable narrator. You know there is something else going on. Is she blocking out something or events leading up to the time she left for her trip? Delusional?
She recruits her childhood friend Katie and boyfriend James and we soon learn these two have a past. Katie and Hannah are always trying out do one another. Plus then she begins receiving texts and strange things occurring. Is someone playing with her, or is she just plain nuts? Move on. He clearly wants away from you.
Hannah, was maddening! No likable characters here unless it was possibly the mom, which did not a strong voice in the novel. An overbearing controlling dad. She soon loses her career-obsessed with her personal life. She is disturbing.
Even though I had high hopes, here is my take: The first 10% was a great set up. It pulled me in. The next 70% was an obsessive Hannah and crazy friend Katie (could have done without all of this). This could have been covered in one simple chapter. It just went on and on. . .
She actually drove me nuts. I was ready to push her out my 15th-floor apartment window. This girl with a so-called career is now a total mess and narcissistic (she possesses all the signs). Ready to give up on the book numerous times and finally just skipped over all this drama, otherwise would have been a DNF. I knew then I did not like this gal. Very self-absorbed. Do not blame the poor guy for leaving.
Nothing changed until we get to the 80% point (I actually looked down) to see where the action actually started. At this point, hooked again. Of course, the very end, not crazy about though. Basically, if you retain the 30% which was good, then remove all the middle drama, and possibly replace those parts with a dual timeline (Hannah’s childhood) POV.
What I would love to have seen: A POV from Hannah’s mom, would have been interesting. Possibly Hannah’s dad, even Hannah’s POV as a child; then switch to Matt POV or James. Possibly some from Hannah in the present (not all Hannah).
I think the different perspectives and dual timeline would have enhanced the overall book and still deliver a nice domestic suspense thriller. As well, as bringing in some good research and facts about domestic abuse and violence in the home, and how this affects children through adulthood, as well as the male/female role reversal.
Mild spoilers here: Especially the learned behavior and the woman being the abuser versus the man. It is not serving our society well to downplay the fact female violence can also be lethal, towards men and towards children: women account for more than half of all murders of children. Most family violence is two-way aggression as well. Given the shame and stigma associated with being a male victim of family violence, it is not surprising that men downplay these experiences in victim surveys. Sure, there are more than we are aware of.
Children witnessing any form of family violence, including couple violence, suffer high rates of mental health problems and the children are more likely to be violent themselves.
As we have discovered through the hit series Big Little Lies, how domestic violence trickles down through our children with bullying and other fatal events in our schools. This would have been a great opportunity to play in the male versus female reversal role, and show both sides. Of course, I did not care for the book, Big Little Lies, either, however, loved the TV series!
Not to take anything away from the author, she is very talented; however, I would have loved this one to take a different route. GONE WITHOUT A TRACE is one which will receive a wide range of reviews due to the way the story plays out, as indicated.
A special thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for an early reading copy.