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Published: 3 November 2016
Reviewed: 28 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Headline in return for an honest review

 

Description:

GONE WITHOUT A TRACE by Mary Torjussen is a chilling, twisty, compulsive thriller about a woman whose boyfriend has vanished. Fans of I LET YOU GO and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN will be gripped.

No one ever disappears completely…

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.

My Thoughts & Review:

Have you ever read a book and had no idea where it was leading you?  Or read a thriller that you “think” you know what’s going on and about to happen only to be completely thrown by the unexpected?  Well this book is both of those things, it’s cleverly deceptive, the plotting is ingenious and the levels of suspense are mind warping.

This is a very chilling read, borderline sinister at times.  It all hinges upon the moment Hannah returns home from a training course, excited to share news with her boyfriend Matt only to be faced with the realisation that he’s not there and neither is any of his possessions.
Reading this instantly had my brain on alert, where was Matt?  What had happened to him?  Did Matt exist or was he a figment of Hannah’s imagination?  Was she delusional?  Yes I tend to think too far ahead and too much sometimes, but the style of writing in the opening chapters of this book means that the reader can sit and formulate some wonderful ideas about the what and why.

Hannah is a very well created character, her charted downward spiral is skilfully written, so much so that the reader feels sympathy towards her plight, empathises with her and shares her frustrations at not being able to find out what happened, but despite all of this she was not a character I was overly fond of – the reasons for this is explainable once you’re read the book.  The chilling psychological twist that’s expertly woven into this novel really catches Hannah and the reader out, elements of the plot hint towards an unknown danger, is someone is watching Hannah?  Is someone playing with her emotions and her mind?  Her paranoia and panic feel very realistic and the reader is driven to keep going, desperate to find out what is going on, who is behind the strange events, but most of all to find out what happened to Matt.
The fact that Hannah is suffering a breakdown means she is an unreliable narrator, which works very well for this type of story.  Her feverish actions and jumbled thinking lend themselves to the increased tension and make this a gripping read.

Some other characters in this were very untrustworthy and ones that at times I found myself wondering why Hannah would be around them, perhaps I’m overthinking it a bit.  I did like the way relationship Hannah had with her parents was written, the troubled past that shaped the dynamic of the present.  It also provided food for thought later on in the plot.

I was completely gripped by this book, and by the end I was mentally exhausted.  Mary Torjussen writes some incredibly tense moments and characters that take effect on the reader in a way that I’ve rarely experienced from a book.  The toxicity of some characters leeches from the pages and the reader cannot help but feel uncomfortable with events and the shocking twists that unfold.  I think I may need to go read The Velveteen Rabbit or something similar now to recharge my head after this book.

You can buy a copy of Gone Without A Trace here.

 

About the Author:

Mary Torjussen grew up in Stoke-on-Trent. There was no television in her family home so books have always been her escape – she spent hours reading and writing stories as a child. Mary has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University, and worked as a teacher in Liverpool before becoming a full-time writer. She has two adult children and lives on the Wirral, where her debut novel, GONE WITHOUT A TRACE, is set.

 

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