Saturday, April 23, 2016

Book Review: "The Vanishing Year" by Kate Moretti

When you watch a thriller or crime movie, at some point a character tells the beleaguered protagonist, Trust no one. If they listen to that advice, they find themselves questioning everyone's motivation, second-guessing seemingly innocent gestures even from people they know. (That is if they're smart, which characters in thrillers or crime movies rarely are.)

I operate the same way when I read a thriller or crime novel. I guess I've read so many through the years, and seen all kinds of twists, that I see almost everything as a potential clue toward the villain and/or the plot's resolution. That's definitely what happened when I read Kate Moretti's new book, The Vanishing Year.

Zoe Whittaker appears to have it all. At one point in her life she didn't even have enough money to give her mother a proper burial, and when she first arrived in New York, she was living in a homeless shelter. But now she is married to Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker, who indulges her every whim and surprises her with romantic trips and gifts, and she is helping make a difference with her charity involvement. It's a far cry from the purple-haired, multiple-pierced floral apprentice she was when she met Henry.

While her life was vastly different back then, no one really knows how different. No one really knows that Zoe wasn't always Zoe, and that she was involved in things which put her life in significant danger. She had no choice but to flee that life, that existence, even if it meant saying goodbye to good memories as well as frightening ones.

Without warning, Zoe's past seems to have found her. While there are parts of her past she'd like to understand, there are many parts she hoped she'd escaped for good. She can't tell Henry, whose moods are growing increasingly mercurial. She doesn't know whom to trust, where to turn, or what to do. And the danger seems to be growing dangerously closer and closer.

I thought this book had tremendous potential, even if we've seen this type of plot before, the woman-who-isn't-who-you-think-she-is, the damsel-who-used-be-in-distress-and-is-again. Moretti kept me guessing for a while just how the story would unfold, and I kept trying to figure out which character would end up being the one (or ones) who betrayed Zoe. I just found the story took far too long to build up steam, there were red herrings that were sprinkled throughout the plot unnecessarily, and in the end, I was disappointed.

I am a really tough critic of this genre of fiction because I read a lot of it, so I either like to be surprised or I like to be impressed with the author's execution of the plot even if it unfolds as I've expected it might. That's a tall order, so I would encourage you to pick up The Vanishing Year if it sounds intriguing to you. Hopefully if you're not as demanding as I am, you'll find it a suspenseful and more enjoyable read than I did.

NetGalley and Atria Books provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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