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Cover Moretti Vanishing Year


I admit, the thing that initially compelled me to dive into this book in a frenzy of “oh-please-let-this-be-a-story-that-makes-me-unable-to-stop-reading-til-I-have-finished-it” were the strong quotes from Mary Kubica and Heather Gudenkauf praising it. I have enjoyed some of their psychological thrillers, so I figured, “YES! I HAVE ONE!!!!”

The protagonist, Zoe Whittaker, lives a life that, to all outward appearances, is perfect. She moved to New York, found a job in a florist shop where she met a handsome, wealthy Wall Street bigwig, and then was swept off her feet and quickly married (very Henry Higgins) They live at a prestigious address in a penthouse, have a country house on a lake, and spend time traveling, enjoying fine dining and wine. Zoe is a bit bored, and spends time at a child-focused philanthropic organization in addition to pondering her mysterious past and wanting to locate her birth mother.

The story unspools gradually (perhaps a bit TOO slowly for those readers who like their thrillers to grab them at the get-go and never let up), and we learn that Zoe is a liar…just a bit at first, as she is bristling at her husband’s controlling behavior, but she seems good at it: “The lie feels good, fits like a well-made winter coat.”

The outline of the story is familiar: young beautiful woman who isn’t who or what she appears to be, damsel in distress, ominous mysterious past, blah blah blah. What I really liked about it, despite this oft-used device, was the way Moretti portrays Zoe’s unhealthy relationship: she rationalizes and defends her husband and the subtle hints at just how unhealthy this relationship really is hook the reader and keep the story moving along. About halfway through, there is a sort of “WTF?” moment, then things start getting really strange. There is a bit of a requirement for willing suspension of disbelief, but overall the plot is nicely twisty, the characters are well developed, and I would definitely look for other titles by this author.

Can’t say much more without giving out spoilers, which I hate! Four stars, and thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.