“Olive,” Billie says, her voice lower now, almost chiding. “I miss you. Why aren’t you looking?”
“Looking for what?” She’s hallucinating, isn’t she? She isn’t really talking to her dead mom.
I don’t know about you, but when I read a suspense novel, I still want to care about the characters, not just what moves the plot forward. In Janelle Brown’s new novel, Watch Me Disappear, out July 11, the plot really moves forward as a result of the characters’ personalities. Part ghost story, part suspense novel, it’s the best of both worlds.
Olive Flanagan’s mom, Billie, has been missing, presumed dead, for a year. She never returned from a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness, and no body was found. A single hiking boot and a destroyed cell phone are all that’s left of Billie Flanagan. Until Olive starts to have visions of her mom, and she and her dad, Jonathan, start to wonder what really happened to Billie. As father and daughter go on a mission to track down Billie’s body, dead or alive, they discover more than they ever knew (and maybe more than they wanted to know) about Billie and themselves.
This story felt very much like Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but creepier, and with none of the fun quirkiness that Maria Semple does so well. If you enjoyed that novel and you like suspense, I think you would enjoy this book. It almost feels like a literary novel disguised as a thriller. The plot moves fairly quickly, but not so quickly that you don’t get an insight into what the characters are really like. After the first few chapters, when Jonathan starts to go through Billie’s old things and begins to realize she may not have been who everyone thought she was, I was completely hooked and wanted to find out all about her and exactly what happened.
My one caveat is that I think, personally, I would have enjoyed the novel even more if it had been more about who Billie and her family are. Olive wasn’t explored as much as she could have been, and she’s such an interesting character that I wanted to know her better.
This is such a perfect summer read, for the beach, the pool, or just your couch on a hot day! If you invest the time to read Watch Me Disappear, I guarantee you will not be disappointed with the story. (Or the ending. It was definitely a jaw-dropper for me.)
Watch Me Disappear: A Novel will be out July 11!