How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How Quickly She Disappears is the debut novel by Raymond Fleischmann and surely without a doubt, there’s a new author to watch out for. How Quickly She Disappears is compared to The Dry that meets Silence of the Lambs. I have always wondered why the publishers do that you know, some comparisons make absolutely no sense whatsoever, but I realized that that it is surefire way to pique a reader’s interest. Yes, that comparison to the Dry and The Silence of the Lambs definitely had me hooked as both those books are favorites of mine.

Tanacross, a small settlement in the Alaskan wilds, is a place of unforgiving brutality, a place that would literally eat you alive. It is to this desolate place that Elisabeth has escaped to with her husband John and her daughter Margaret. 20 years before, Elisabeth had lost her sister, her twin, the part of her soul when Jacqueline vanished without a trace at 11 years of age. Elisabeth knows in her heart that her sister is alive in a way that only a twin would know but has lived with the grief of loss for many years. Her marriage is crumbling but teaching her daughter and the hope of one day reuniting with her sister is what keeps Elisabeth going.

It is to this bleak existence that a stranger comes knocking. Alfred Seidel is the creepy and weird guest that Elisabeth barely tolerates but within a matter of day, he’s killed Mack, Elisabeth’s friend and claims to know the truth of Jacqueline’s disappearance. But to actually divulge the details, Alfred has many demands to be met by Elisabeth. Thus, begins the dangerous game between a lonely soul and a brooding and freaky madman.

The story certainly begins well. The stark and grim atmosphere of the Alaskan bush and the loneliness endured by Elisabeth makes for a very intense read. The tension seeps thru the pages knowing the treacherous game that Elisabeth is involved in to finally know something about her sister. Of course, Elisabeth has to pay dearly before her wish is granted leading to a chilling and harrowing climax. The tempo of the story kind of fizzles out from around the middle and becomes a trifle tedious by the end. The characters also fail to instill any warmth but it is clear that the author has promise as the atmospheric menace created in the story was exceptional and potent. It is probably for this reason that the book has been compared to the DRY and Silence of the Lambs.

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The Dry meets The Silence of the Lambs in this intoxicating tale of literary suspense, set in the relentless Alaskan landscape, about madness and obsession, loneliness and grief, and the ferocious bonds of family….

My proposition is very simple: I am going to ask you for three gifts, and for each gift you deliver, I will take you one step closer to Jacqueline.

It’s been twenty years since Elisabeth’s twin sister, Jacqueline, disappeared without a trace. Now thirty-year-old Elisabeth is living far from home in a small Alaskan town. She’s in a loveless marriage and has a precocious young daughter she loves more than anything but who reminds her too much of her long-missing sister.

But then Alfred, a dangerous stranger with a plan of his own, arrives in town and commits an inexplicable act of violence. And he offers a startling revelation: He knows exactly what happened to Elisabeth’s sister, but he’ll reveal this truth only if she fulfills his three requests.

Increasingly isolated from her neighbors and imprisoned by the bitter cold and her own obsession, Elisabeth can almost hear her sister’s voice saying, Come and find me. And so she will, even if it means putting herself–and her family–in danger.

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