Published by St. Martin's Press on July 6, 2010
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals — sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.
Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape — her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor. Still Missing is that rare debut find - a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel.
This one is difficult to review. Not because of the subject matter but because it started off decently and then went off the rails for me. The beginning read like a case study of the psyche of a shattered mind. I was fascinated by the behavior of Annie in dealing with her situation. A lot of what she did seemed appropriate given what she had been through. My heart broke for Annie but there came a time when I found her actions didn’t make sense. She pushed people away when she wanted them near and at times I found myself thinking she wanted to sabotage the investigation into her abductor’s identity and I stopped caring. When the story was wrapping up all I could muster were a whatever and a are you kidding me?
Annie is a realtor and is abducted during an open house, is taken to a cabin in the mountains and spends a year with her abductor. Her story is told through flashbacks as Annie recounts it in the sessions with a therapist. When not with her therapist she tries to deal with living in the aftermath of her abduction and escape.
At the end of the book there is a discussion guide and one of the questions is “Why might the author have structured her book in such a way?” My first response was she was lazy. Then I realized that I shouldn’t be so flippant and I tried to answer the question seriously. I couldn’t. I’m sure there is some deep reasoning as to the difference of being in Annie’s head post-event compared to during the event. I don’t know why the author chose to tell the story this way but it worked for me. Could a chronological abduction-escape-investigation-resolution structure have worked better? Maybe.
“Annie, before, I was just being the same way with you as I’ve always been.”
“I know. But I’m not the same.”
I felt for Annie, but I didn’t care for any of the characters with the exception of Emma. I think the friends tried too hard to help her, to be there for her. I believe (and maybe I would suck as a friend to someone hurting like Annie) that you make your presence known and offer to help in any way they need and let it be. If the friend wants you to stay and they voice that, you stay. You do not try to help in a way that you think will benefit them.
Some parts of the story were predictable and at no time was I ever on the edge of my seat concerning the mystery. Full disclosure, I didn’t try to solve this case. I wasn’t suspicious of every character in the story. I wanted to allow the story to unfold and I wanted to enjoy it. I enjoyed the Barney Fife members of the police force but for a good portion of the time I was looking at the bottom of my Kindle to see how much longer this book was going to take. Not a good sign.
What Annie went through was brutal and disturbing to say the least. I marveled at her ability to find something every now and then to make her situation bearable. There were times when I found it difficult to breathe and to read on. I had this sick fascination of wanting to see what else would be done to her, what else could be done to her and wanting to put the book down due to the lumps in my throat and nausea in my stomach when I found out. I am infinitely more scared of things that can happen and the fact that this happens to real people in real life makes this story scarier but it didn’t make it any better.