vanished. A Novel
vanished. A Novel is a threaded story, beginning in the 1970s in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the other in 2007 America. It follows Cassie Robinette, who is in Kabul with her boyfriend, and two other men they meet up with. She’s also been corresponding with an American, Jack Hunter, who has fallen in love with her through their letters and plans to meet up with her in Istanbul after she goes from Kabul to Iran. But before he leaves, he gets an enigmatic postcard calling it off. With no further communication from her, Jack moves on with his life, and it isn’t until almost 30 years later as he’s divorcing that he decides to try and see what happened to his early romance. But when he can’t find any trace of her existence, he begins researching everything he can from the letters he still has from her. Using comments and names from the letters, Jack starts putting together clues about Cassie and the men with whom she was traveling. But Jack isn’t the only one looking for Cassie–the other is one of the men that was with her when she disappeared in 1978. Jack travels around the world following Cassie’s trip, finding clues and history behind her original trip, becoming more concerned as it ties to drug smuggling, international unrest in Afghanistan and Iran, and one of her travel companions who seems more and more a danger to Cassie both then and now.
vanished is an excellent thriller with plenty of plot twists and turns, interesting characters, and unusual settings, but one of its strongest points is the realistic atmosphere of the settings. From pre-Taliban Kabul or pre-revolution Iran to modern-day Slovakia, the places shine with detail and accuracy. It’s easy to forget that women wore Western dress in Afghanistan or that Iranians, before the Revolution, were happy and excited to practice their English with American visitors. Characters feel fresh and well placed, with dialog that seems natural, not forced or scripted. The pace of the book and the depth of the characters keeps the reader turning pages to see what’s going to happen next. A great book for thriller readers and armchair travelers to see late 1970s Middle East combined with a more modern return visit.
N. V. Baker