Title: Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: C+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A jaw-dropping novel of psychological suspense that asks, If the love of your life disappeared without a trace, how far would you go to find out why?
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…
READERS GUIDE INSIDE
In Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen, lead protagonist Hannah Monroe’s devastation over a shocking break up turns into an obsession.
Hannah’s excitement about a possible promotion at work quickly turns to dismay when she returns home from a business meeting to find her boyfriend of four years, Matt Stone, has left her without warning. Not only has Matt disappeared, but he has erased every trace of him from her life. Frantic to find him in order to learn what prompted the split, Hannah is soon so obsessed with trying to track him down, she jeopardizes her job and begins to alienate her few friends. Before long, she is receiving strange texts and she also suspects someone has been inside her house. Hannah becomes convinced Matt is responsible for these strange occurrences although she lacks any evidence or even a logical reason that supports her theory.
Hannah is initially a sympathetic character and it is easy to understand her compulsion to try to understand why Matt would take such extreme measures after leaving her. According to Hannah, the two have been blissfully happy and Matt gave no indication he was thinking of ending their relationship. Her best friend Katie urges her to move forward and forget about Matt, but Hannah is certain if she finds Matt, he will move back home and they will live happily ever after.
However, after weeks pass and Hannah continues her downward spiral, it soon becomes apparent that she is not the most reliable of narrators. The glimpses of her distant relationship with her parents are a fairly good indication that she might have deeper issues than her missing boyfriend. Her friendship with Katie is also somewhat dysfunctional and there is an unhealthy jealousy between the women that leaves Hannah (and the reader) questioning her friend’s motives. Hannah also has a somewhat complicated past with Katie’s boyfriend James that adds another layer of uncertainty to the unfolding story.
While the initial reaction is sympathy for Hannah’s plight, it does not take long to run out of patience for her growing obsession and increasingly irrational conviction that if she can just find Matt, their relationship will resume right where it left off. Once the shock over the way he left her wears off, curious minds will wonder what prompted Matt to break up with Hannah in such an extreme fashion. Equally fascinating is how quickly Hannah becomes fixated on finding Matt and how nothing seems to faze her as she jeopardizes her career and friendships as she single-mindedly focuses on finding someone who made it blatantly clear he was finished with her.
While the premise of Gone Without a Trace is quite unique, the story gets somewhat bogged down and repetitive as Hannah’s obsession with finding Matt consumes her. The mystery behind Matt’s behavior is initially what keeps readers engaged in the unfolding drama but readers might become impatient with the lack of details or new information about their relationship or the reasons for the break up. Mary Torjussen throws in a few plot twists at the novel’s conclusion that are completely unexpected and an interesting epilogue offers an intriguing (and rather surprising) glimpse into Hannah’s future.