Most of us have experienced the end of a relationship and having to come to terms with life without someone we loved. Usually a breakup is preceded by fights, and it’s pretty clear to each party why the relationship has ended, though there are some who enjoy the
mind games of “If you don’t know what’s wrong, I’m not
going to tell you!” before storming off, leaving a
confused lover behind.
But what about those whose partners just disappear without an explanation? The need to know
where someone is and why they’ve gone can be so
intense that the person who’s left becomes
obsessed. We hear in the news of people disappearing and, whilst sympathetic, we quite quickly
forget about them and move on. Then, years later,
we hear that their families, who’ve never forgotten
them, are still searching. While we have been
living our lives, those people have had only one
goal: find the person who has disappeared.
This is how it is for Hannah, when Matt disappears in my
novel Gone Without a Trace. She arrives home to find he’s gone
without any explanation. His possessions are gone, and soon
she discovers his photos, texts, and emails are missing, too.
She has nothing of his, nothing to remind her of him or their
relationship except her memories. But how reliable are they?
We all assume we are standing on steady ground. We like
to think we know our own history and where we stand with
partners and friends. When we recall an event in our past,
upended. Nothing was at it seemed, and every
aspect of her life has to be examined and ques-
tioned as she searches for Matt. She remembers
the last night they were together, lying in the
bath and Matt bringing her a glass of wine and
telling her to take it easy. Now with this new
reality overlaying that memory, she wonders
what was really going on.
Of course, if that memory was false in some
way, it’s likely others were, too. But how can she
reconcile the life she thought she’d led and the
reality exposed by Matt’s disappearance? The
cognitive dissonance Hannah experiences as she tries to rec-
oncile the two becomes her driving force.
To stay sane we need to know our own history. Ultimately,
all we can rely on is our memories; all we can trust is what
we’ve seen and heard and experienced. If those memories are
not true, not real, then what do we have?
Truth and Memory
BY MARY TORJUSSEN
[In My Own Words]
In Gone Without a Trace (Berkley, Apr.), Hannah Monroe, a successful accounting firm employee,
comes home one day to the house she shares with her live-in boyfriend, Matt Stone, to find him gone.
dreamed since childhood of becoming
president of the United States, and he has
a plan. Roberson’s wife, Allison, has one
driving goal—to get out of Steubenville.
Dena Marie Conchek Androski Xenakis,
former homecoming queen, she of multiple marriages and affairs, is still in love
with Johnny. Dena’s insecure husband,
Smoochie Xenakis, has put up with
insults and abuse all his life. The murder
of unsavory Rayce Daubner, who’s intimately connected with all the others,
initiates the chaos, which one seemingly
minor character quietly manages. Yocum
(A Brilliant Death) has produced a rollicking tale sure to appeal to Donald Westlake
and Elmore Leonard fans. Agent: Colleen
Mohyde, Doe Coover Agency. (Apr.)
her own. Johansen keeps the suspense
high as Lassiter and Margaret work
together to ensure Patrick’s survival.
Agent: Andrea Cirillo, Jane Rotrosen Agency.
★ A Welcome Murder
Robin Yocum. Seventh Street, $15.95 trade
paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-63388-263-8
Memorable oddball characters, whose
ambitions collide with results ranging from
comic to fatal, populate Yocum’s excep-
tionally clever novel set in Steubenville,
Ohio, a once-thriving town near the West
Virginia border. Johnny Earl, an ex-con
who was once destined for a great pro
baseball career, returns home from
Pittsburgh hoping to retrieve his hidden
nest egg. Sheriff Francis Roberson has
As a volunteer at the San Diego Zoo in
California, Margaret has been making
good use of her psychic ability to commu-
nicate with animals such as Zaran, a stub-
born tigress who refuses to accept her cub.
Late one night, just as she shuts Zaran’s
cage, Margaret feels a gun in her back.
John Lassiter, a former CIA operative, is
prepared to use force to ensure that she
joins him on a mission to rescue his mentor,
CIA agent Sean Patrick. Patrick has been
captured by Stan Nicos, a sadistic criminal
who once held Margaret captive and
killed her friend Rosa. Lassiter intends to
let Nicos, who covets Margaret’s skills as
an animal communicator, think that he’s
willing to trade her for Patrick while
actually keeping her safe. Margaret, who
doesn’t trust Lassiter at first, has plans of