Review: Annie O'Sullivan relates her year-long ordeal of being held captive, and the aftermath with the police and press, friends and family, in a series of sessions with her therapist in Still Missing, Chevy Stevens' debut novel.
Set on Vancouver Island, real estate agent Annie is kidnapped from an open house she was holding on an early August day. Drugged, she wakes up in a small cabin, the windows boarded over. Everything within sight is either locked or barred, even the appliances. Days later she meets her captor again, a man she now refers to as The Freak, who puts her on a rigid schedule and follows an obsessive routine, including nightly rapes. He comes and goes as he pleases, but always makes sure that the cabin is secure. Annie constantly looks for a means of escape, all the while believing she's slowly losing her mind.
The author takes an interesting stylistic approach to relating Annie's story in Still Missing, constructing it as a monologue with her therapist over a series of sessions (that make up the chapters in the book). Since Annie is alive and free, she obviously gets away from The Freak at some point, so the initial suspense comes from a storyline that describes how she manages to accomplish this. Later, the suspense comes from a storyline that is basically a whydunit/whodunit: Why did The Freak choose her in the first place, and was he working alone? Unfortunately, both these storylines — most particularly Annie's time in the cabin — run on far too long and lose much of their potential to generate any real suspense. Yes, The Freak is heartless and cruel and inhumane and unforgiving, but this is established within the first couple of chapters, with what follows are essentially multiple variations on this same theme. It gets a little monotonous. When Annie gets free, the second storyline kicks in, but this, too, tends to go over the same ground several times. Possibly this is intentional on the part of the author, trying to mimic a therapy session in which the patient needs to relive an experience from multiple perspectives or viewpoints in order to grow and learn from it. And while the reader will applaud Annie's effort and progress, this isn't sufficient in and of itself to support a compelling narrative, and most especially not one intending to be suspenseful.
Acknowledgment: St. Martin's Press provided an ARC of Still Missing for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
St. Martin's Press (Hardcover), June 2014
ISBN-13: 9781250034601; ISBN-10: 1250034604
Location(s) referenced in Still Missing: Vancouver, British Columbia
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Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 2010
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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