The Day She Disappeared
The Day She Disappeared is the latest offering from author Christobel Kent. It’s the story of one woman’s search for the truth about the disappearance of her best friend, but while the synopsis sounded great, the novel’s execution left something to be desired.
Nat is struggling to get her life together. She’s nearing thirty, and things haven’t worked out for her like she always planned for them to. Instead of enjoying a successful life in the big city, she’s back in the small English town where she grew up. She doesn’t necessarily dislike her job at a local pub, but neither is it the kind of thing she envisioned herself doing. She has friends, but she hasn’t found that special someone to settle down with, and she sometimes wonders if she ever will.
A few weeks before our story opens, Beth Maxwell, a colleague and good friend of Nat’s, takes time off work to care for her ailing mother. Initially, Nat doesn’t find this odd, but, as time passes with no word from Beth, she begins to wonder what’s going on. When we first meet Nat, she’s attempting to convince her boss that there’s something peculiar about Beth’s absence, but she isn’t taken seriously. At first, Nat allows her misgivings to be dismissed, but when a few more days go by and her phone calls and text messages to Beth go unanswered, Nat decides to get the police involved.
I hope never to encounter police officers like the ones in this book. As soon as Nat tries to report Beth missing, the officers begin acting like total jerks. They aren’t interested in helping her figure out what has happened to her friend because according to them, Beth is a party girl who dates a ton of different men, so the fact that she may have run into trouble is of no concern to them. No matter how hard Nat tries to convince them that Beth is a hard worker who would never just run out on her job, they refuse to listen, and Nat eventually gives up and decides to find Beth on her own.
At the same time all of this is going on, Nat is also dealing with some drama involving Victor, an elderly man she befriended when she first came back to town. He was injured in a fall, and has been hospitalized. Doctors believe he is suffering from some kind of head injury, and his recovery isn’t going at all well. He’s constantly trying to convince anyone who will listen that his daughter Sophie is in some kind of danger, but he’s either unwilling or unable to elaborate further. Nat is deeply concerned for Sophie’s safety, so she begins poking around in hopes of uncovering the source of the danger she’s supposedly in.
All of this could have made for an intriguing story, but the author’s writing style made it all but impossible for me to follow the plot. I felt a little like I was reading some kind of stream of consciousness exercise where one thought meanders into another seemingly unrelated thought, and this goes on for over 400 pages. Plus, the chapters are extremely short, something that just adds to the overall disjointed feel of the novel.
Nat is supposed to be a likable character, but she drove me up the wall pretty much from page one. I admired her loyalty to the people she cares about, but that’s pretty much her only redeeming quality. She gets herself into a number of dangerous situations and then has to be rescued by various people, and, instead of learning from her mistakes, she just goes off and does something similar the very next day. I don’t expect every character I read about to be brilliant, but I do appreciate a certain amount of good sense, something Nat was definitely lacking.
Ms. Kent does create a couple of really good twists toward the end of the novel, but they weren’t enough to change my opinion of the story as a whole. It was a definite case of too little too late as I simply wasn’t invested enough in the plight of the characters to fully appreciate them.
There are many great mysteries out there, but The Day She Disappeared is not one of them. I strongly urge you to give it a pass and move on to something more deserving of your time and money.