Wow! I know reviewers say things like “I read it in one sitting!” But people…. I really did!
I was riveted from the beginning!
Hannah and Matt share a house across the Mersey River from Liverpool. Both are in their early thirties and are successful in their careers. They are in love, and she assumes that one day they will marry.
Ready to celebrate a very successful work conference, Hannah arrives home with a bottle of champagne to share with him. She finds all traces of Matt gone. Really gone. No trace of him left, not even in the trash cans! Photos of him with her, gone. Everything he had brought to their home – his television, his clothes, his extensive record collection – GONE. Right down to the mugs in the kitchen and his favourite marmite and ketchup from the fridge. All the messages in her email account and all the texts they exchanged have been wiped from her phone. When she calls his number she gets a ‘recording’. When she calls his work she is told that no one by that name works there…
At first she is spooked. Then comes the anger. How dare he leave her without a word! Was it something she did? Then… inconsolable, she begins to question the forensic nature of his disappearance. Surely everything wouldn’t be gone? Strangely, the possessions she had before he moved in had been put back as they were before he lived with her. Her books are back on the shelves that he had commandeered for his record collection. The blank spaces where his photos stood are not visible because her other photos have been rearranged to fill the gaps…
Hannah’s confusion, panic, and stress are palpable. I found my heartbeat speeding up as she goes from room to room.
Hannah begins to get anonymous text messages. Then, she is sure that someone has been in her house while she was at work. She left a vase of blowsy, dying, purple tulips on the table and when she returned home there were fresh purple tulip buds in their place…
She receives a video on her phone. Someone has filmed her when she went out for a morning run… Who would do such a thing?
Hannah has a very small support system with few people to turn to in her time of need. She has a very unhealthy relationship with her parents and wouldn’t dream of bringing her troubles to their door. One wonders what kind of childhood she had. She has a ‘best’ friend, Katie, whom she has known since childhood. However the reader gets the impression that theirs is a sort of love/hate relationship with jealousy and competition playing major factors. Hannah confides in Sam, one of her coworkers, but again the reader wonders if he has an ulterior motive for being her confidant.
As the messages, phone calls and house invasions escalate, Hannah’s life begins to unravel. She can no longer pay attention to her work and misses important deadlines. She doesn’t even pay attention to her own personal hygiene and her house shows signs of squalor. She loses weight and is agitated and sleepless. She becomes obsessed with finding Matt.
Themes of loss and betrayal run throughout this fast-paced thriller.
With every component that makes for a FAB psychological thriller, “Gone without a trace” ticked all the boxes for me! It was a very easy read with short chapters and even short sentences. Not literary by any means, but compelling. The structure drives the reader into reading faster and faster. With a few requisite plot twists and an ending that can only be described as ‘chilling’, this novel will be relished by thriller lovers.
I am very grateful to Penguin Random House who supplied me with a digital copy of this novel (via NetGalley) for review purposes.
Mary Torjussen has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and worked for several years as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer.