Monday 18 September 2017

Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen @MaryTorjussen @headlinepg @millieseaward

No one ever disappears completely...
You leave for work one morning.
Another day in your normal life.
Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn't been at work for weeks.
It's as if he never existed.
But that's not possible, is it?
And there is worse still to come.
Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

With thanks to the publisher and author who sent my copy for review.  Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen was published by Headline on 23 March 2017 and is the author's debut novel.

I read Gone Without A Trace whilst I was on holiday in Corfu and was absolutely gripped by it. It's one of those books that you want to talk about, and I almost chewed my husband's ear off about it; telling him what was happening .... and what on earth was it going to lead to?

Lead character Hannah is an accountant, she's had a really productive few days at work and is in line for promotion. Hannah is excited and knows that her live-in boyfriend Matt will be really pleased for her. They will celebrate.
Hannah returns home to an empty house. Matt is nowhere to be seen, and upon further investigation she realises that there really is no trace of him. Everything that belonged to Matt has gone. The house looks just as it did before he moved in with her, he's taken everything that he bought, or brought.

It's not just personal possessions that have vanished though. There's no trace of Matt in Hannah's phone; no messages, nothing in the call register. He's also disappeared from her email inbox. He's gone, almost as if he never existed.

At this point, I was open mouthed, wondering if Matt ever existed at all. As Hannah speaks with friends and work colleagues, it's clear that he did exist, but it's also clear that he doesn't want to be found.

Hannah doesn't deal with this very well at all. She's dramatic and hysterical. When she begins to see signs that someone has entered the house, and receives strange phone calls, she nears the edge of a complete breakdown.

Mary Torjussen has certainly written a story that kept me spellbound. Whilst I wasn't keen on any of the characters, that made no difference to my enjoyment of the story. It's intense and compelling and the scrutiny of relationships is excellently done. This author has explored the deceit and lies that can sometimes be the basis of both a friendship and a romantic relationship, Her characters are rounded and well crafted and her ability to keep her readers on their toes is excellent.

The final reveal was a shock to me. I certainly had no idea what to expect and whilst on reflection, I can see where the author hinted at things to come, I was totally oblivious to what was happening. That's a good thing by the way, I get frustrated when I've worked out a plot really early.

I must admit that I preferred the build-up in the first three quarters of the book to the final scenes, it felt grittier and more realistic. However, the ending is a good one and I closed the book with a sense of huge satisfaction and respect for this debut author.

Mary Torjussen grew up in Stoke-on-Trent.
There was no television in her family home so books have always been her escape - she spent hours reading and writing stories as a child.
Mary has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University, and worked as a teacher in Liverpool before becoming a full-time writer.
She has two adult children and lives on the Wirral, where her debut novel, Gone Without A Trace is set.

Follow her on Twitter @MaryTorjussen

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