I just completed the April selection for our mystery discussion group. It was "Vanished" by Karen Robards. It was not the typical kind of book I would have picked up to read. For starters, it was not one of those Texas mysteries I like to read. Also it wasn't by an author I was familiar with. Finally, the cover was not the kind of cover that would have drawn me to check it out and read. But since it was the group's selection, I read it - and I am glad I did.
The "sleuth" in this book was Sarah Mason - an Assistant District Attorney for Beauford County, South Carolina. She was not a "typical" sleuth. She was a mother who lost her daughter seven years ago who is jolted into searching for her daughter again. She has not forgotten her daughter and it probably has been something she has had thoughts about over the years - but she has been "coping" with it by doing her job in the DA's office. This is a "believable" explanation - "throwing" herself into her job to keep from constantly thinking and despairing about her daughter who is most likely dead.
She is "thrown" back into thoughts about her daughter by two events in this story. First, she is at the scene of a robbery where she (and an unknown little girl) become witnesses to the murder of the store clerk. When she tries to escape with the little girl, she gets shot and the little girl disappears. It seems nobody else believes her about the little girl who just "vanished" from the scene. While she is unconscious, she is frantically trying to find the little girl and then is frantically trying to find her daughter again.
Now this event alone has dredged up memories of the loss of her daughter but it is the next event that puts her frantically into action looking for her daughter again. In the middle of the night, she gets a call from her "daughter" - at the age she was when she first became missing. To virtually everybody else it seems like she is losing it but she insists the phone call was real. One person tries to help her discover the truth about the phone call - Jake Hogan.
Jake Hogan is a private investigator she turned to years ago after her daughter disappeared. He and Sarah have become friends and he is concerned about her. Other things happen and suggest the possibility someone is trying to "shake" her up. It also suggests a possible connection between the robbery gone bad and the mysterious phone call.
One of the first things Jake does is locate the little girl from the robbery gone bad. This puts Sarah at ease a little - knowing the little girl is OK. But things are not OK. Somebody is still trying to shake Sarah up and things are complicated between Sarah and Jake. There are a number of possible reasons and suspects behind this but there are no clear connections. One of these suspects are guilty but everything does not connect until close to the end of the book. We learn why Sarah is taunted by her missing daughter and "more". But to get the "more" you have to read the book - it is too good to miss.
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