Whenever Annie Sullivan sees a poster of herself she can not help thinking that the “Missing” caption is absolutely accurate. Even though she has physically returned from a year of horrific captivity, the woman who left is indeed still missing. In fact, Annie knows she always will be.
Primarily told as a series of sessions with Annie’s shrink, this fantastic debut novel is the story of a woman who left home one day to do an open house for her realty company and did not return for over a year. Unfolding through the narrative of the tale are her current struggles to survive and blend into a post-captive world that seems shockingly full of danger, and the details of the year she spent as the captive of a complete psychopath. Foremost in Annie’s mind are two simple facts: She does not fit into her former life. And an investigation that should have ended seems to be still ongoing, which leaves her with no doubt that her nightmare is not quite over.
Told in the first person, this gripping tale allows us to live and experience the simplicity of Annie’s ordinary day, her encounter with the mild client who turns out to be a living devil, and the sheer hell she goes through to survive every day since that moment. Annie is an extraordinary heroine, one who survives against incredible odds and highlights the hidden strength that can exist in all of us in moments of crisis. At one point she tells her psychiatrist she hasn’t always been such a bitch. But she is far from that; she has a tough, hard as nails persona and has dug into the very deepest edges of her soul to find the will and means to survive. If the attitude with which she faces the world has a high no bullshit meter, it is one that she has more than earned.
Annie’s approach to life is her protection. The mastermind who wanted Annie out of the way is still out there, and Annie feels increasing pressure to find this person – to find out why they wanted her out of the way. The police are certain she knows this person, and knows them well, which makes almost every encounter Annie has with the people she once loved fraught with danger. The book begins at a high tension level and step by step ratchets up the heat and suspense. Having it told in the first person really helps – imagine looking at everyone in your own life with suspicion, with your dog being the only person you really trust.
Annie’s story is a tough but fascinating one. I couldn’t put the book down as each page took me to a new place, either back into captivity with the Freak or searching for a way to survive in the present. This book can be brutal and graphic at times, including some pretty bad rape sequences with her captor. In that sense, it can be similar to a Lisa Gardner, Karen Rose, or Tami Hoag book, but it is also utterly compelling, as the best of their books are. I would strongly recommend it to any fan of the mystery/psychological thriller genre.
The "hot" sexuality rating in this review refers to the overall explicit nature of the sex in this book, some of which is violent rather than romantic.