Published by Berkley
Publication date: April 18, 2017
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Narrator: Emily Pennant-Rea
Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins
A jaw-dropping novel of psychological suspense that asks, If the love of your life disappeared without a trace, how far would you go to find out why?
Hannah Monroe’s boyfriend, Matt, is gone. His belongings have disappeared from their house. Every call she ever made to him, every text she ever sent, every photo of him and any sign of him on social media have vanished. It’s as though their last four years together never happened.
As Hannah struggles to get through the next few days, with humiliation and recriminations whirring through her head, she knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to find him again and get answers. But as soon as her search starts, she realizes she is being led into a maze of madness and obsession. Step by suspenseful step, Hannah discovers her only way out is to come face to face with the shocking truth…
Story Locale: Liverpool, England
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A woman comes home to find that her loving boyfriend has vanished, leaving absolutely no evidence of his existence. Hannah begins examining every clue and unraveling her past to find him and what she finds is the cold hard truth.
What caused Hannah’s boyfriend to leave her—and not just leave her, but also erase any thread of evidence he ever existed? GONE WITHOUT A TRACE’s compelling premise has a delicious hook that grabbed me from the first page and had me wondering WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
We first meet our protagonist, Hannah, on the verge of a huge promotion at work, only for her high to take a nosedive when she arrives home and finds her boyfriend has left her. I felt humiliated for her, angry on her behalf, and desperate for answers. Her lifelong friend, Katie, is always competing with her, waiting in the wings to snatch whatever Hannah has. She’s copied her wardrobe, is now dating her ex-boyfriend James, and doesn’t seem to ever have time to listen to Hannah during this difficult time.
It’s become common practice for me when reading thrillers to trust no one, especially the first-person narrator through which you’re hearing this story. Is everything as it seems? Well, in thrillers the answer is almost always, “no.” I had this great internal tension within myself because I didn’t know who to trust. I thought the best friend (Katie) is highly suspect, with her constant meddling and apparent jealousy she has towards Hannah. Meanwhile, Hannah begins to make choices that fall outside the scope of a “normal” reaction to this situation, during which time my trust in her started to drop dramatically. So who’s the crazy one? Are they both crazy? As Torjussen brings you closer to the truth, the answer is abundantly clear.
While the novel was entirely compelling and fast-paced, the big reveal at the ending was underwhelming and high on the dramatics. Throughout the narrative, there are flashbacks to Hannah and Matt’s relationship, giving the reader a glimpse on the good times and the bad times. But after finding what what happened to Matt, I didn’t see the significance of many of them except to take up page space and provide additional red herrings.
The twist in this novel wasn’t as effective for me personally because I had put the pieces together myself. The fact that I figured out the twist beforehand isn’t the reason for my criticism. Rather, I felt that the execution of the twist lacked the nuance and subtlety that is the foundation for a good thriller plot twist. After the big reveal, the novel wrapped up too abruptly and readers may be frustrated by the final paragraph.
This book was the PERFECT book to listen to on audio. As I mentioned before, it’s so fast-paced so listening to it makes it even more exciting. I thought the narrator did a great job with her performance, making Hannah equally sympathetic while leaving you wondering if she’s all there. If you’re looking for a thriller that will pull you in on the first five minutes, this is the one for you!
* Thanks to Berkley for providing me with an early copy for review.