Hannah Monroe's boyfriend, Matt, is gone. His belongings have disappeared from their house. Every call she ever made to him, every text she ever sent, every photo of him and any sign of him on social media have vanished. It's as though their last four years together never happened.
As Hannah struggles to get through the next few days, with humiliation and recriminations whirring through her head, she knows that she'll do whatever it takes to find him again and get answers. But as soon as her search starts, she realizes she is being led into a maze of madness and obsession. Step by suspenseful step, Hannah discovers her only way out is to come face to face with the shocking truth...
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***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***
Copyright © 2017 Mary Torjussen
I was singing as I walked up the path to my house that day. Actually singing. I feel sick at the thought of that now.
I’d been on a training course in Oxford, leaving Liverpool as the sun rose at six, returning at sunset. I work as a senior manager for a large firm of accountants and when I got to the reception of our head office and signed myself in, I scanned the list of attendees from other branches and recognized several names, though they weren’t people I’d met. I’d read about them in our company’s newsletters and knew they were highflyers, and for the first time I realized that must have been what the company thought of me, too.
My skin had prickled with excitement at the thought, but I’d tried not to let my feelings show, relaxing my face into that calm mask I’d practiced so assiduously over the years. When I went into the conference room, I saw the others standing around chatting as though they were old friends. They looked polished and professional, as though they were used to this sort of event, and I was glad I’d spent a fortune on my clothes and hair and nails. One of the other women had the same Hobbs suit as mine, though luckily in a different color; another gave a covetous look at the chocolate Mulberry bag Matt had bought me for Christmas. I took a deep breath; I looked like one of them. I smiled at the nearest person, asked which branch she worked for and that was it, I was part of the group and soon my nerves were forgotten.
In the afternoon we were set a task to complete in a team and at the end I was chosen to present our findings to the whole group. I was terrified and spent the break time in a corner feverishly memorizing my speech while the others sat around chatting, but it seemed to go well. Once I’d made the presentation I could relax and was able to answer everyone’s questions in full, anticipating follow-up questions, too. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Alex Hughes, one of our partners, nodding as I spoke, and at one point he made a note about something I said. When everyone was packing up to leave, he took me to one side.
“Hannah, I have to say you performed very well there,” he said. “We’ve been looking at your work for a while now and have been absolutely delighted with your progress.”
Just then Oliver Sutton, the firm’s managing partner, came to join us. “Well done, Hannah. You were excellent today. When Colin Jamison leaves in September I think you’ll be on track for promotion to director. Wouldn’t that make you the youngest in your branch?”
I don’t know what I replied. I was so surprised to hear him say that; it was like one of my dreams had come to life. Of course I knew exactly when each director had been promoted; I’d pored over their bios on the company’s website. I’m thirty-two and I knew the youngest had been appointed at thirty-three. That had helped give a certain edge to my work lately.
The organizer of the event came up to speak to them then and they smiled and shook hands with me before turning to her. I walked as calmly as I could to the cloakrooms and locked myself into a cubicle where I nearly screamed with pleasure. This was what I’d been working toward for years, since leaving university and starting with the firm as an assistant. I’ve never worked as hard as I have this last year or two, and now it looked as though it was going to pay off. When I came out of the cubicle I saw in the mirror that my face was pink, as though I’d been out in the sun all day. I took out my makeup bag and tried to repair the damage, but my cheeks still glowed with pride.
Everything was going to be all right.
I reached into my bag for my phone to send a message to my boyfriend, Matt, but then the Human Resources director came into the cloakrooms and smiled at me, so I smiled back and nodded at her and took out my hairbrush instead to smooth my hair. I didn’t want her to think I was excited about anything, to suspect that maybe I thought I didn’t deserve promotion.
There was also no way I wanted to hang around while she was in the loo, so I went back to the conference room to say good-bye to the others. I decided I’d tell Matt face to face and couldn’t wait to see his excitement. He knew how much I wanted this. Of course it was too early to celebrate—I hadn’t actually been promoted yet, after all—but I was sure that Oliver Sutton wouldn’t have said that lightly. Each time I thought of his words, I felt a swell of pride.
And then in the car before I set off I thought of my dad and how delighted he would be. I knew he’d hear about it from my boss, George, as they played golf together, but I wanted to be the first to tell him. I sent him a text:
Dad, I’m at a training day and the managing partner says they’re considering promoting me to director in a few months! xx
Within seconds I got a reply:
That’s my girl! Well done!
I flushed with pleasure. My father has his own business and he’s always said that the one thing he wants is for me to be successful. As far as my career was concerned, he was my biggest supporter, though it could be stressful if he thought I wasn’t promoted quickly enough. Another text beeped through:
I’ll put a treat in your account—have a celebration!
I winced. That wasn’t the point of telling him. I typed back quickly:
It’s OK, Dad, no need to do that. Just wanted to tell you how I got on. Tell Mum, will you? xx
Another message beeped:
Nonsense! Money’s always good.
Yes, money’s nice but a phone call would be better, I thought, then I shook some sense into myself and started the car.
It was a two-hundred-mile drive home and I did it without a break. I live on the Wirral peninsula in the northwest of England, just across the River Mersey from Liverpool. Despite the evening traffic, it was an easy drive with motorways all the way and it seemed as though the journey passed in a flash. I was so excited I couldn’t stop myself wriggling on my seat as I practiced what I would tell Matt and how I would say it. I wanted to stay calm and to just mention it casually when he asked me how my day had gone, but I knew I’d just burst out with it as soon as I saw him. When I reached Ellesmere Port, about fifteen miles from home, I saw the Sainsbury’s sign shining brightly in the distance and at the last minute I indicated to take the exit. This was a night for champagne. In the shop I picked up a bottle of Moët, then hesitated and picked up another. One isn’t enough when you have news like that, and besides, it was Friday; no work the next day.
Back on the motorway I pictured Matt’s reaction as I told him the news. It wasn’t as though I’d have to exaggerate. Just repeating what Alex Hughes and Oliver Sutton had said would be enough. Matt worked as an architect and had done well for himself; he’d understand how important it was for my career. And financially, too, I’d be level with him, if I was promoted. I thought of the salary scale for directors and felt a shiver of excitement—maybe I’d earn more than Matt soon!
I stroked my soft leather bag. “There’ll be more of you soon, sweetheart,” I said. “You’ll have to learn to share.”
It wasn’t just the money, though. I’d take a pay cut to have that kind of status.
I opened the windows and let the warm breeze run through my hair. The sun was setting and the sky ahead was filled with brilliant red and gold streaks. My iPod was on shuffle and I sang song after song at the top of my lungs. When Elbow played “One Day Like This,” I pressed Repeat over and over until I reached my home. By the time I arrived, I was almost in a state of fever and my throat was throbbing and sore.
The streetlights on my road popped on to celebrate my arrival. My heart pounded with the excitement of the day and the fervor of the music. The champagne bottles clinked in their bag and I pulled them out so that I could present Matt with them in a ta-da! kind of moment.
I parked on the driveway and jumped out. The house was in darkness. I looked at my watch. It was 7:20 p.m. Matt had told me last night that he’d be late, but I’d thought he’d be back by now.
Still. There’d be time to put the bottles in the freezer and get them really chilled. I put them back in the bag, picked up my handbag and opened the front door.
I reached inside for the hall light, clicked it on and stopped still. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.
Was someone in our house?
For the last four years I’ve had pictures on the hallway walls that Matt brought with him when he moved in. They’re huge photos of jazz musicians in heavy black frames. Ella Fitzgerald usually faced the front door, her eyes half-closed in a shy, ecstatic smile. Now there was nothing but the smooth cream paint we’d used when we painted the hallway last summer.
I dropped my coat and bags on the polished oak floor and on automatic pilot stooped to steady the bottles as they tilted to the ground. I stepped forward and stared again. There was nothing on the wall. I turned and looked at the wall alongside the staircase. Charlie Parker was usually there. He was bathed in a golden light and faced Miles Davis. It had always looked as though they were playing together. Both were gone.
I looked around in disbelief. Had we been burgled? But why had they taken the pictures? The walnut cabinet I’d bought from Heal’s was worth a lot and that was still there. On it, alongside the landline and a lamp, sat the silver and enamel Tiffany bowl that my parents had bought me when I graduated. Surely a burglar would have taken that?
I put my hand on the door to the living room, then hesitated.
What if someone’s still here? What if they’ve only just got here?
Quietly I took my handbag and backed out of the front door. On the path, safely away from the house, I took out my phone, uncertain whether to call the police or to wait for Matt. I stared at the house. Apart from the hallway, it was in darkness. The house attached to mine was dark, too; Sheila and Ray, our neighbors, had told me they’d be away until Sunday. The house on the other side had sold a month or two ago and its owners had long gone. A new couple would be moving in soon, but it didn’t look as though anyone was there yet; the rooms were empty and there were no curtains at the windows. Opposite us was the wide entrance to another road; the houses there were bigger, set well back with high hedges to stop them having to view the rest of the estate.
There didn’t seem to be any movement in our house. Slowly I walked across the lawn to the living room window and looked through into the darkened room.
At first I thought the television had gone. That would definitely be burglars. Then I froze. The television had gone; that was true. Matt had bought a massive flat-screen when he moved in. It had surround sound and a huge fancy black glass table and, to be honest, it took up half the room. All of it had gone.
Now in its place was the old coffee table I’d had for years, which I’d brought with me from my parents’ house when I left home. On it was my old television, a great big useless thing that used to shine blue and flicker if there was a storm. It had been in the spare room all this time, waiting until we had the energy to chuck it out. I’d hardly noticed it in all the time it had been up there.
My face was so close to the living room window that I could see the mist of my breath on it.
A car braked sharply in the distance and I jumped and turned, thinking it was Matt. I don’t know why I thought that.
My skin suddenly felt very cold, though the evening was warm and still. I took a deep breath and pulled my jacket tightly around me. I went back into the house, shutting the door quietly behind me. In the living room, I put the overhead light on, then quickly went to the window to draw the curtains, even though it was still light outside. I didn’t want an audience. I stood with my back to the window and looked at the room. Above the mantelpiece was a huge silver mirror and I could see my face, pale and shocked, reflected in it. I moved away so that I didn’t have to look at myself.
On either side of the fireplace, white-painted shelves filled the alcoves. Our DVDs and books and CDs had been on them. On the big, lower shelves Matt had kept his vinyl, hundreds of albums, all in alphabetical order by band, the more obscure the better. I remembered the day he moved in, how I’d taken dozens of my books from the shelves and put them in boxes in the spare room so he had space for his records.
Those books were now back there, looking as though they’d never been away. Most of the DVDs and CDs had gone. All of the vinyl was gone.
I turned to the other corner. His record player was no longer there, neither was his iPod dock. My old stereo was back; his had gone. Gone, too, were the headphones he’d bought when I’d complained I couldn’t watch television because of his music.
I felt as though my legs were about to give way. I sat down on the sofa and looked at the room. My stomach was clenched so tightly I almost doubled over.
I didn’t dare go into the rest of the house.
I took my mobile from my bag. I knew I shouldn’t call Matt—what was the point? He’d sent me the clearest message he could. At that moment, though, I had no pride. I wanted to talk to him, to ask him what was happening. I knew, though. I knew exactly what had happened. What he’d done.
There were no missed calls, no new messages, no new emails. Suddenly furious—he might at least have had the decency to let me know—I clicked on Recent Calls and scrolled down to find his name so that I could call him. I frowned. I knew I’d called him a few nights ago; I’d been in the car, just about to leave work; my friend, Katie, had sent a message saying that she and her boyfriend, James, might come round and I’d phoned Matt to check we had some drinks in. There was no record of that call on my phone. I scrolled down further. Months of calls flashed by. None of them was to him or from him.
I closed my eyes for a second and tried to take a deep breath, but I couldn’t. I felt as though I was going to faint and had to put my head down on my knees. After a few minutes, I looked back at the screen, clicked on Contacts and typed M for Matt, but nothing came up. Panicking I typed S for his surname, Stone. His name wasn’t there.
My fingers were suddenly hot and damp, slipping on the screen as I scrolled down the list of text conversations. Again, there were none to him and none from him, though we had sent a few each week. We tended to do that rather than call lately. There were still messages to friends and to my parents and to Sam at work, but nothing to Matt. I’d bought that phone at Christmas with my bonus. I sent him a message then, though he was only in the kitchen, asking him to bring a bottle of prosecco into the living room. I could hear him laugh when he read the message and he brought it in with some more chocolate mousse. I was lying comatose; the agreement had been that I’d cook Christmas lunch for his mother and us, but wouldn’t have to do anything else for the rest of the day.
I double-checked now and looked at my texts to Katie. It took a while to scroll through them as we sent several a week—several a day at times—but eventually I found the first one, wishing her a happy Christmas and telling her that Matt had bought me a Mulberry bag. She’d acted amazed, but I knew he’d asked her advice on it. I don’t know how she’d kept it a secret.
My mind whirled. What had happened to Matt’s texts and calls?
I switched the phone off and on again, hoping that might do something. There were text messages from Katie, sent yesterday afternoon, asking me about my trip to Oxford today. She’d phoned me just before the training started this morning, too, to wish me luck, knowing how much the day meant to me. I’d spent a few minutes talking to her in the car park before I had to go in. There were texts to and from Sam, my friend at work, and Lucy, my assistant, as well as some from my mum and a few from my dad, including those exchanged in Oxford just hours ago. There were also messages from Fran and Jenny, old friends who I run with sometimes, and some from university friends that I still saw occasionally. There wasn’t anything from Matt at all.
Of course I knew what was going to happen when I opened my emails. No new messages, but that wasn’t a surprise. I tried to think of the last time Matt had emailed me; usually he’d text. Back when we first met we’d email several times a day; we both used to have our private emails open on our computers while we were working, so we could chat to each other throughout the day. You’d think that would have made us less productive but the opposite happened and we found we were firing on all cylinders, working fast and furious and making great decisions. We were so fired up we both got promotions and it was only when Matt’s company started logging network accounts after some idiot was found to be looking at porn all day that we had to stop. My heart sank now as I looked at the folders; the one with all his emails in it was missing. I opened a new message and entered “Matt” into the address bar. Nothing came up, not even his email address.
I could hear myself breathing, short, shallow breaths. There was the beginning of a red mist around my eyes and I could feel myself starting to hyperventilate.
I had no way of contacting him.
For a while I couldn’t move. I sat on the edge of the sofa, holding my stomach as though I was in labor. My mind raced and my palms were tingling. When the lights of a car came to our end of the street and shone through a gap in the curtains, I jumped up and before I knew it I was flat against the wall next to the window, pulling the curtains slightly to one side.
If it was Matt, I wanted to be ready for him.
Someone had come to the empty house next door. Car doors opened and slammed; I heard a man say something and a woman laugh in response. I looked through the gap in the curtains and saw a young couple standing at the boot of their car. I watched unnoticed as they unloaded suitcases and boxes and took them into the house. They must have just left them in the hall as within a minute they were back in their car and driving off down the road. My new neighbors, I assumed. I looked at my watch. It was after eight o’clock. It seemed an odd time to move in, but then I remembered my other neighbor, Sheila, saying that it was a local couple who had bought the house; maybe they were moving their things themselves.
I gathered up my courage and made my way through to the kitchen. I pushed the door open and pressed the light switch. When the light blazed on, I saw a flash of the room and closed my eyes.
He’d done the same thing here.
Gone was the maroon Rothko picture, which had glowed above the oak fireplace. Gone, too, was the white metal candelabra that Matt had brought with him and lit on the night he’d moved in. I remembered him blowing out the candles before taking my hand and leading me upstairs to our bedroom. He’d smiled at me, that easy grin that had always made me smile back, and pulled me toward him in the darkened room, whispering in my ear, “Let’s go to bed.” My heart had melted and I’d hugged him, right where I was standing now.
The back of the house was one room, with a large marble island dividing the kitchen and dining areas. French doors led out onto the patio and large windows sat either side, with potted plants and photos on their deep sills. Of course, the photos of Matt had vanished. There were still photos of Katie and me with our arms around each other at parties and one of us that I loved where we were wearing Santa hats and holding hands, aged five. There was one of my mum and dad that I’d taken on their wedding anniversary and another of them with me at my graduation, their faces full of pride and relief. Photos of my friends from university, shiny faced and bright eyed in bars and clubs, were still there and one of me finishing my first half marathon, holding hands with Jenny and Fran as we crossed the finish line, but all the photos of Matt had gone. It was impossible now to see where they’d been.
I sat at the island with my head in my hands and looked out at the room. A square glass vase of purple tulips sat on the dining table, just where I’d put it a few days before. I’d stopped at Tesco for some milk and had seen them by the entrance, their tight buds and dewy leaves a reminder that summer was on its way. The room was clean and tidy, just as it usually was, but it seemed tarnished now, somehow, like a nightclub in daylight.
There were fewer glasses on the cabinet shelves by the door. When Matt had moved in he’d brought with him some heavy crystal wineglasses his grandmother had given him and had placed them in the cabinet. I hadn’t liked them, had thought they were old-fashioned and doubted they were nice even when they were in fashion, so their disappearance now was no great loss. My Vera Wang glasses were still there, lined up and ready to party. Ready to party in an empty room.
My stomach rumbled and I went over to the fridge, though I couldn’t face eating. The contents of the fridge seemed the same as they’d been at six that morning, when I’d left for Oxford. A supermarket delivery had arrived last night, ready for the weekend ahead and everything was still there. There was twice as much as I’d need now. I’d ordered the food while I was at work and Matt had unpacked it with me, without a word to suggest he wouldn’t be there to eat it. I slammed the fridge door shut and stood with my back to it, breathing heavily, my eyes squeezed tight. When my breathing slowed I opened my eyes and saw the gaps on the magnetic strip above the hob where he’d lovingly placed his Sabatier knives. Below was a space where his French press had stood.
I steeled myself and opened the cupboards.
His packets of coffee beans were gone, the grinder, too. If I leaned forward I could smell the faint aroma of coffee and wondered how long it would last. That was one thing he couldn’t erase. I slammed the cabinet door shut. My head throbbed as I opened the lower cupboard and saw the space where his juicer usually stood. In another cupboard I saw his mugs had gone, the huge, ugly ones with logos. He’d carried them with him from university to bedsit and on to his London house and then to our home—my home—and I wished he’d left them so that I could smash them now.
I opened the fridge again and checked the compartments in the door this time. The bottle of ketchup that I never touched—gone. His jar of Marmite—gone. No great loss, as I disliked both of them, but why take them? I checked the kitchen bin and they weren’t there. All my bottles and jars had been redistributed along the shelves, so it looked as though nothing was missing.
I pulled a chilled bottle of white wine from the fridge and one of my glasses from the cabinet and sat back at the island. I poured a full glass and drank it down, almost in one gulp, then poured another. I kept looking at my phone to check that his number had actually gone. My mind whirred. He’d been fine the night before; in fact, he’d been in a great mood. I’d got up early that morning to shower and get ready for my trip to Oxford. I’d left at dawn, terrified of getting caught up in the morning traffic. I’d panicked the whole journey in case I was late.
I’d leaned over before I left and kissed him softly on his cheek. His eyes were closed and his breathing steady. His face had been warm and still against my mouth. He was asleep, or at least I’d thought he was. Maybe he was awake, waiting for me to go? Maybe his eyes had snapped open the moment he heard my car drive off and he’d jumped up to start packing.
I started to cry, then, at the thought of that. We’d been together for four years—how could he just walk out without an explanation? And to put all my things back in their old places; it was as though he’d never been here!
I drank most of the next glass down, too, and that made me cry again. I loved Matt. I’d always loved him, right from the start. He knew how much he meant to me; I’d told him so many times. We spent all our time together and the thought of being without him made my stomach gallop with panic. I reached out for my phone, wanting to talk to someone but put it down again. I was filled with shame at being left, humiliated at the way he’d gone. How could I tell anyone what he’d done?
I took the bottle and my glass upstairs with me. I needed oblivion tonight and this was the quickest way there.
When I got to my bedroom door I knew what to expect, but still, the sight of the quilt cover, fresh and clean, upset me again. I’d changed the bed linen the Sunday before and just by chance had put on the burgundy cover he’d brought with him when he moved in. That was gone now; the quilt cover and pillowcases on our bed were embroidered white cotton, mine from long before I’d met him.
I steeled myself and opened his wardrobe doors. Of course, it was empty. Wire hangers hung on the rail and there wasn’t even the faintest smell of his cologne. There didn’t seem much point in checking the drawers, but I did anyway. I opened each one and they were as empty as the day I bought them.
I took off my clothes and dropped them in the empty laundry basket in the bathroom, found my oldest and softest cotton pajamas and put them on, all the while avoiding my reflection in the mirror over my chest of drawers. I was too mortified to see my own face.
In bed as the night grew dark, with just the light from the landing coming through to the room, I poured glass after glass of wine and drank it without tasting it. I reached into the bottom drawer of my bedside dresser and found my headphones. They were the kind that canceled noise, just what I needed tonight, when I didn’t want to hear anything, not even my own thoughts. In the darkness of the room, I could feel my head buzzing and my cheeks tightening as the alcohol entered my bloodstream. I took the pillow from Matt’s side of the bed and curled into it. It smelled clean and fresh; there was no trace of him there. Tears ran down my face and no matter how many times I dried it, within seconds it was drenched again. When I thought of him packing up everything and leaving me without a word, without a hint that he was going, I felt like a fist was clenching my heart, squeezing it tight. I could hardly breathe.
Where was he?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Brilliant psychological suspense Set in the Wirral Peninsular near Liverpool, this psychological thriller has plenty of twists and lots of suspense. After a great day at work, Hannah returns home to find her boyfriend disappeared - along with all of his belongings. Distraught that the man she loves has gone, she wants to find him and put things right. When she begins to notice odd (in a psychological way) things happening she wonders if she is imagining it, as do her friends. Is there someone spying on her? With only a few main characters in the book, it is easy to follow who is who, and thus concentrate on the brilliant story, which twists and turns in a convincing and realistic way. I can't say more about the plot, without giving anything away, but I was gripped by the storyline. As the author writes "... no matter how long you've known someone, you never truly know them." Written in the first person (I) the tension builds from Chapter 1, and continues right through to the last paragraph, following Hannah whilst she looks for her boyfriend and tries to keep her job together. This is a well written, completely riveting and fast moving thriller. Though set in the Wirral Peninsular there is little description about the area, however the beaches sound nice! Being set here will give an extra dimension to those that know the area, but the scenery is no distraction from the suspense within the pages. No doubt in my mind that this is a 5* read - I didn't want to put it down.
This book was completely not what I expected it to be. It is funny when you go into a book knowing next to nothing but still "think" that you have an idea of what is going to happen. Obviously that isn't what happened here at all! I don't know what I was really expecting other than a thriller. What I got was a thriller but also an intense psychological reading experience. There was always this feeling while I was reading this book that everything wasn't as it seemed. As the reader, you don't know who or what you can trust. That helped to make the book quite a page-turner for me! I'm going to get into slightly spoiler-ly ground here so stop reading if you don't like possible spoilers and skip ahead to the next paragraph. I found about halfway through the book that I didn't trust Hannah either. I also didn't quite care for her either. I don't think that we are really supposed to do either though. That is the point of the book- that we don't know or what to believe when it comes to Hannah's missing boyfriend. I would say that I figured out some of the mystery about 3/4ths of the way through the book. Not everything though which is why I was unable to set the book down until the very end. I cannot wait to see what other readers think about that ending. It is one to discuss, that's for sure! Actually, I think that there are a lot of different things that you could discuss about this book. The author isn't afraid to make really unexpected choices when it comes to the story line. It gives readers a lot of things to mull over and talk about! Overall, I enjoyed my time reading this book as it was a unique reading experience. It was different than many of the other thrillers I've read so far this year and I appreciated that. I still stick with my statement previously that I'm a bit over all of these unlikeable main characters. Ha! I can't really complain much as this was too compelling of a read. I love how willing this author was to take chances with this book. I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next! I can easily recommend this one but especially to those readers who love suspenseful and thrilling reads. A solid four star read for me (if I actually gave star ratings that is). Bottom Line: A thriller that kept me on my toes as I didn't know what to expect! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.
After four years of living together, Hannah returns home from work one evening to find her significant other, Matt, has taken all his belongings and has disappeared. There is no trace of him: their entire call history deleted, all photos vanished, his social media profiles gone. What happened to Matt? The book follows Hannah's first person point of view throughout as she becomes obsessed with finding Matt to the detriment of her job and personal life. I was initially really gripped by this. The premise was very interesting and the first few chapters strong. But once the author started providing background information on the characters, I thought the story became predictable and the twists weren't exactly surprising. It's very difficult to go into any details without giving the entire story away. Reviews of this differ wildly and I seem to be totally in the minority with my opinion that the revelations were easy to anticipate. I would have preferred if the author had kept the main character's mental state more consistent. Again, difficult to explain without spoiling the plot. I really loved the ending though. There were some nice unsettling and creepy bits and overall, it kept me entertained. Not always for the right reasons though. I listened to the audiobook narration and found it really amusing how the narrator used a posh Southern accent when Hannah was on her own and then switched to a really strong Liverpool accent for direct speech. What was the reasoning behind that? With a first person POV, it certainly didn't make the character very credible. Apart from that the narration was actually well done.
When Hannah comes from a business trip to find her boyfriend Matt gone, along with all of his things, she simply doesn’t know what to think. He’s returned her flat to the state it was in before he’d moved in. He’s left no note. Matt has, in every sense, erased himself from her life. And she has no idea why. Hannah becomes obsessed with finding Matt so she can get answers, so that she can do to mend things. This obsession starts effecting her work, her friendships, her sleep. Her whole life becomes about figuring it all out. It doesn’t help that she starts getting strange text messages on her phone, that she gets the sense that someone has been in her flat while she was out, leaving things disturbed in small ways that make her question her sanity. She’s convinced it is Matt trying to reach out to her, that maybe he can’t live without her after all. But is it Matt? And if so, why did he leave at all? Why doesn’t he just come back? Why has he hidden himself away? If it isn’t Matt, what does this person want with her? First off, I didn’t like Hannah. Truth be told, I didn’t like most of the characters. And while that made it somewhat hard to continue with the story, it was also essential to the plot. When most of the characters are unlikeable, there are so many likely culprits, with a plethora of possible motives. As for the plot, it took a little while before I figured out why Matt left the way he did. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that I suspect that gender-based stereotypes played heavily into my ability to see what would have otherwise been quite obvious. The subplot with the possible stalking…I didn’t figure out the who until close to the end, but I definitely knew who it wasn’t from early on. The pace was a little slow for me. There were bits where it really felt like it was dragging, like why can’t we just move along now. I get it. She’s an unreliable narrator. We need to understand her past and her motivations. But, honestly. Being inside Hannah’s head was a bit much sometimes. Perhaps because I have my own anxiety demons, I don’t really have a lot of tolerance for living inside someone else’s anxious mind. My beasties are quite enough, thank you very much. Writing this review out, it would seem that I didn’t enjoy it that much, but at the end of it all, I actually did. I think the approach was novel, as I suspect many readers still have the same gender bias that I do (blasted!), so the pieces won’t come together as quickly as they should. And beyond the why of Matt’s departure, the rest of it was beyond me. So, while the characters themselves actually ratcheted my anxiety up well beyond comfortable levels, it was ultimately all a mystery to me. Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
A superb read! I lost a whole afternoon and evening, needing to find out what was going on. Hannah starts out as someone the reader can feel sorry for, but gradually the doubt starts creeping in. The ending was surprising, and the the second ending was shocking! Great weekend read.
This is such a hard one for me to review. There are some great thrilling parts in this book. Hannah coming home after a conference to find that her live-in boyfriend has moved out. He's taken his flat screen TV and replaced with your huge tube TV (including the stand his was on). His jazz pictures are gone, leaving empty walls. All his albums including the player, which was his, is gone. Everything. He's gone through your phone, deleted his number, his photos, all the texts he's ever sent, the one's you've sent. He's deleted his Facebook account. He quit his job weeks ago. His mother moved a year ago. It's like he was never there. Now that is creepy. Next thing Hannah knows, she gets a text. It says "I'm home now", while she is at her best friend's house. Of course, she goes running home and no one is there. This is when things start happening in her house. Things are moved, the kettle is warm, flowers are replaced, etc. She knows its her boyfriend, Matt. She is obsessed with finding him. So much so, it's all she thinks of. I can't tell you any specifics without spoiling it for you. This is where I start to lose focus. She is driving me crazy. This girl is 32 and is acting like some love obsessed teenager who has lost her first boyfriend. This girl is running everywhere to find Matt. I'm pretty sure that you could cut about half of her hysteria out and it would be a whole lot better book. And at the very, very end (no spoiler) I just threw my hand up. I want a thriller to be a thriller, not drama. The thriller is there. There were lots of things I did not see coming. I was even blown away by some of them. Tone back Hannah and you've got a great read. Thanks to Berkley Publishing for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
This book and me did not get along. I was so excited to read this novel because the story sounded exactly like the kind of book that I enjoy. I thought it started out okay but then I found myself wanting to put it down. I would set this book aside and read another book and go back to it and quickly find that I was bored again. I actually ended up reading a couple of other books in the middle of this one which is something that I rarely do. I considered not finishing this book but I pushed myself to finish it instead. After finishing the book, I do wish that I had just stopped as soon as I realized that it wasn't working for me. Hannah comes home from work to find her boyfriend, Matt, gone from their home. Matt has taken absolutely everything that he had in their home. It is like Matt never lived there. Photos are gone. He even erased all of the phone records, texts, and emails. Hannah is stunned and has no idea where Matt has gone or why he left. She can't get his loss out of her mind and starts working to figure out where he has gone. After the initial shock of Matt's leaving, there didn't seem to be a whole lot going on in this book. Hannah does not deal with his leaving well at all and her spiral downward is detailed in the story but it seemed to me that the story needed something to keep things moving forward. I found that I spent most of the book rather bored. The story does have a big twist and the last quarter of the book does pick up the pace. I would imagine that most people will really appreciate this giant twist but by the time it was revealed, I had really lost any investment in the story that I had ever had. I did find that the last section of the book did seem to move faster and was more entertaining. I think that this is a book that some readers will love but it will not work well for others. Unfortunately, I was in the later group. I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it that really thinks that they would enjoy it based on the description but I won't be encouraging readers to pick it up either. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.
Gone Without a Trace is a new suspense novel by Mary Torjussen. Hannah Monroe is an accountant in Northwest England. She spent the day at a training course and is in a good mood because her boss implied that she will be getting a much-desired promotion to director in the fall. Hannah arrives home to find all of Matt’s, her boyfriend, belonging gone. Everything was the way it was before Matt had moved into the house. Hannah goes to call Matt and his contact information was removed from her phone along with pictures she had taken. She goes online and finds that all of his social media accounts have vanished. Hannah is shocked and confused. She thought everything was fine with their relationship. Hannah calls his phone number, but it has been disconnected. On Monday, she contacts his work to find out that he had quit a week earlier. She goes by his mother’s home to find that she moved several months prior. Hannah does not understand what is going on and starts calling area hotels looking for Matt. Hannah is neglecting her work searching for Matt. A week later Hannah receives a text from an unknown number stating, “I’m home”. Hannah is sure it is from Matt and rushes home to find the house empty. Then little things start happening at home. She comes home to find the dead flowers replaced and another time the tea kettle is hot with steam on the tiles. Is Matt behind these incidents? If not Matt, then who? Hannah is more determined to find Matt and get answers. But will she like the responses? Gone Without a Trace sounded like a great suspense novel. I was eager to read it and was quickly let down. The novel is told from Hannah’s point-of-view, and it is soon obvious that she has an unusual as well as unreliable view point (she is also very unlikeable). I believe the story would have been better if told from the third person (narrator) perspective. Readers are subjected to every single thing that Hannah does to find Matt. I did not understand why Hannah was going to such lengths to find him. I can understand wanting answers, but she took it to another level (which is the point, but it is still odd). The pace of the book is slow in the beginning (monotonous), but picks up in the last forty percent of the book. There is finally some action and things start coming together (in a way). I give Gone Without a Trace 3 out of 5 stars. I could tell what had happened early in the book. It was obvious what had occurred and who was behind it (limited cluster of suspects and obvious clues). I do wish that the mystery had been more intricate and difficult to decipher (and a faster pace). I never felt the suspense. Gone Without a Trace was an acceptable mystery novel. I just wanted more. I wanted the hair on my arms to stand at attention and for me to be riveted. The book has potential. With a little rewriting and editing it could be superb. This is the author’s debut novel. I will be interested to read her next creation.
About: Gone Without a Trace is a mystery thriller written by Mary Torjussen. It will be published on 4/18/17 by Berkley Publishing, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 352 pages. The genres are mystery, psychological thriller, suspense, adult fiction, and British literature. My Experience: I started reading Gone Without a Trace on 3/19/17 and finished it on 3/22/17. This book is full of mystery and suspense! I just couldn’t put it down! In this book, readers will follow the point of view of Hannah Monroe, a young senior manager on the path to career success. She is on her way to becoming the youngest Director when she found out after coming home from a business trip that her live-in boyfriend, Matt Stones has left her, gone without a trace, removing himself and everything he owned during the time he lives with her from their home. She couldn’t turn to anyone for support except her best friend Katie and her work colleagues Sam. Hannah couldn’t deal with why Matt left her and spent days and weeks retracing her steps to calculate whether there were signs that she missed. She becomes obsess with finding him that her work, self image, and her mind suffer. Adding to the mystery of Matt leaving her are the little texts, notes, signs of him around that nearly drives her crazy. I like that Hannah always questions her situations. She confides in her co-worker Sam but questions if he gossips her personal troubles with her Assistant Lucy. She confides in her best friend Katie but holds back on something else. The mystery lasts for a long time and I became impatient to know what’s going on. As the story goes on, readers will get shredded information of Hannah of her past. Little information of how Hannah became friend with Katie and how she met Matt and the constraints relationship she has with her parents. The story takes place in Liverpool, England. Living in America, I enjoy those few different words that we don’t use here, such as having a row is having a fight and the boot of the car is the trunk of the car. This book starts out really good. It captures my attention immediately and I just couldn’t read on fast enough. I begin to lose interest as the mystery and suspense drags on. The twist at the end is definitely fascinating and unexpected. It requires more patience to read this book because there were just too much of Hannah and her visions and assumptions during her search. I love that the author included an epilogue. This book is still a good read and I do recommend it. Pro: suspense, page turner, fast pace, mystery, couldn’t put down, whodunit, Con: too much of Hannah’s I rate it 4 stars! ***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Penguin Random House for inviting me to take part in Gone Without a Trace Blog Tour and to have the opportunity to read and review. Please assured that my opinions are honest. xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com
This book had me clueless. I was so invested in finding Matt that I couldn’t follow the clues to find out why he left or who was stalking Hannah. I felt sorry for Hannah, there were times I thought she was going to make herself crazy. Without giving away the story, I will mention that there are so many characters that were not trustable that I knew that Hannah should not trust anyone yet everyone needs friends and support in a situation like she was going through. I am trying very hard not to giveaway anything…and there is so much to giveaway. The twists, the turns, the ups and down were all so gripping. While reading I could feel there might be more to the story yet I couldn’t wrap my head around what it could be. The clues were given, the outcome hinted at, yet I missed it. This is not a bad thing that I missed it, for me it made me read the book longer, faster, and without stopping to get the answers that I wanted. Gone Without A Trace is a psychological thriller that I recommend reading.
Hannah Monroe has just attended some training for work and learns that she is up for a huge promotion. She can’t wait to get back home and share the news with her boyfriend of four years, Matt. But when she gets home, Matt is going and not just gone but all of his stuff is gone and Hannah’s is moved back in from storage. And I mean everything even the stuff in the refrigerator. But that is not all, his phone is disconnected, his social media is gone, and even the pictures in Hannah’s phone are gone. Hannah is upset and plans on hunting Matt down for an explanation. But strange things start happening and it seems that someone is watching her. When I first read this description I was intrigued. How can someone completely disappear like this? Is Matt only in Hannah’s mind? What if Hannah is a complete psycho and Matt had to take extreme measures to get away from her? I had a hard time dealing with Hannah, she is so selfish and immature. And it’s a little worrisome how obsessed she becomes with finding Matt. She takes a great career and dumps it down the drain along with her personal well being. I hate to say it but I started losing interest in the story when it was about 3 months later and Hannah is a complete wreck and she still has no information on Matt. Then there was the twist that I really was not that impressed with. From there the book should be wrapping up but things were still all over the place for me. Overall, I have to say that I was not as impressed with the story. But I do see that this book has received several raving reviews. I think this is going to be one of those books that you will either love or hate. I strongly recommend checking it out for yourself, you may like this more than I did. I received Gone Without a Trace from Penguin Random House for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.
Mary Torjussen answers a thought-provoking question: How far would you go to find your loved one if they disappeared without warning? Gone Without a Trace is an imagining of such a case when Hannah comes home to find her boyfriend of four years has moved out. Gone are all his belongings and even the memories that should have been left behind from text messages and emails have been erased. Add to the surprise of finding the love of her life could just leave her, someone seems to be following her and sending messages that she believes are from Matt. I was hooked from the blurb. When I finished the story I was amazed by the depth of plot and characterization. I half believed that Hannah was crazy from the start and would realize that either she imagined the last four years of being in a relationship with Matt, or something happened to him and someone went to the extreme to remove his existence. Turns out I was right on both accounts, but in what way is for the reader to experience for themselves. This is a story that makes an impact from the charged emotions to the subtly placed clues. It takes on more than Hannah's search for Matt and explores toxic relationships and how they affect one's sense of self and actions. Hannah's childhood and friendships played major roles in the outcome of this story. I admire Torjussen's ability to layer the plot with intense themes while also keeping the reader just out of reach of the answers. Readers aren't left in a lurch by the conclusion which shows that Torjussen though long and hard about how to portray Hannah's story. No detail is left unresolved or questions unanswered. Mary Torjussen takes readers on a ride that gets more intense as it progresses. Hannah begins her story in a haze of uncertainty and suspicion. As her tale continues she becomes clearer and walks into a new light that is unexpected but gives Gone Without a Trace an edge in psychological thrillers. It's not the typical thriller I was expecting but something much more gratifying! *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review*
This review was written by Marie for a guest review post on Ever After Book Reviews blog: 4.5 Stars Prior to picking up this book, I heard a lot of mixed reviews. Most readers either loved it, or they hated it, with a very small group of "middle of the fencers." This made me both eager and scared to dive in. What if I hated it and it enraged me? With either possibility in mind, I settled in and began my journey with Hannah and Matt. The story started out slowly for me, as the lives of these two characters began to unfold, when out of nowhere, Matt just up and disappears. And not just, "oh, he went missing," but nearly every trace of him gone. Like he never existed. The frantic suspense made for a thrilling page turner, and at a point midway through the book, there is a twist so mind-blowing, that I wasn't sure whether to laugh, or throw my book. I chose to continue on. From there, it was a foot race of a pace to the very end. And once it was all over, I welcomed the peaceful reprieve. But the story still stuck with me. And that, I believe, is the goal of the author. From a character stand point, there isn’t anything particularly unique or memorable about Hannah. Or Matt. Or any other character, for that matter. But they felt real. Flawed. Raw. The story itself was what did it for me. It took you by surprise, and presented a far-fetched idea that just... worked. It was a thrilling book that stuck with me long after I turned that final page. And to me, the haunting footprint it leaves is a testament to its well-deserved praise. ***I voluntarily read a copy of the book offered to the blog by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own
Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen is a psychological thriller. I had mixed feelings about this book, which I will explain a bit later in this review. The premise of the story was a good one, which catches your attention from the start. Hannah Moore has just received good news on her job, with a promotion possibly upcoming. She buys a bottle of wine to celebrate the wonderful news with her boyfriend, Matt. When she arrives home after being away for a couple of days, she is shocked at what she sees. Matt is gone, and everything in the house that they shared is missing, and replaced with all her old stuff before he moved in with her; even her computer emails & phone messages, etc were erased. It was just like Matt never existed; which was a great start to this story. Needless to say, Hannah was upset, not knowing why Matt left. We get to meet Hannah’s friends Kate and James, who are the ones she goes to for help. Both of them try to understand why Matt would have left, asking Hannah questions about them having problems. Hannah insists nothing was wrong. It is here the story escalates to Hannah spending all her free time trying to find Matt, which will affect her job, which begins to suffer. Hannah becomes obsessed with researching on the computer, calling his old job or friends to no avail. A short time later, she begins to get texts on her phone from a strange number “I am Home now”, which leads her to believe Matt is coming home. He didn’t, but someone was coming to her house leaving hints. As we get to the last 1/3 of the book, things change drastically, with multiple twists; which was exciting. Now for my mixed feelings: Once I was ¼ into the book, I did not like Hannah; not at all. She was obnoxious, obsessive, hysterical, nasty at times and totally a disaster. At first I understood her boyfriend left her, but she was an adult (30’s) who after the initial shock, should have moved on. If he didn’t want her to find him, that should have been enough. She didn’t even care or do anything on her job; she treated her friends bitterly. It got to the point that I couldn’t stand her, and this went on for too long. When we got to the twist, which was sort of a surprise, her behavior was that of a wacky crazy women. Then as things come to a climax (no spoilers), we get some more answers and twists; but the epilogue ending left me with a bitter taste. This book was promising, the writing was good, a good thriller storyline, with some surprises and at times exciting. But I could not sympathize with the lead character, to the point of disliking her so much, it affected my take on the book.