I can honestly say that this book disturbed me, it is a novel, but the subject matter just bothered me. For the past several months my wife and I have been reporting on missing children cases, Caylee Anthony, and more recently Haleigh Cummings. The Disappearance brought these sad real life stories into a new light.

Efrem Sigel takes us on a journey of discovery, one that is at times quite frankly uncomfortable. We have a well adjusted family, maybe the perfect family, a perfect life, a nice home, and a fourteen year old son, who is by no means perfect, but brings in good grades, is well liked, and maybe most important of all, even though the teenage hormones are raging he seems to be a very settled and together young man.

Father Joshua and mother Nathalie have escaped the big cities to find summertime tranquility in a small hamlet in Massachusetts. A mere 60 souls call The Hollow home and the nearby town of Smithfield contains another 500 . A more out of the way place I cannot think of. That is not to say that all is completely well with the community. Many residents are set in their ways and resent the ‘out of towners’ who seem to be gradually leaving their mark. A major sticking point is the development of a new resort on the edge of town. In fact it is the development of this new resort Tall Pines that has brought the Sandlers to Smithfield, Joshua is a real estate developer and involved with the project.

Although Tall Pines will have a positive effect on the local economy, bringing in jobs and money, opposition is steep. The first signs of trouble are by way of minor vandalism on the work site, then a dog is poisoned, and finally some threatening phone calls.

Joshua and Nathalie head out one bright morning, her to deliver brownies to a family friend, he to go to the hardware store. 14 year old Dan prefers to remain at home. There is talk of a tennis match upon their return. This is the last time they see their son.

When the parents return there is no sign of the boy, no note, no nothing. ‘He may be out playing with his friends’, they muse, ‘or maybe he went swimming in The Shallows’. After a couple of hours they start to call his friends, they start to check his usual hang outs, all to no avail. No one has seen the child that day, he has vanished into thin air.

The local police chief Art Sammons is sympathetic, and upbeat, ‘we will find young Dan, don’t you worry’.

The days turn into weeks, and the weeks into months. There are no leads, and while Joshua harbors secret thoughts that maybe Tall Pines is somehow involved, he has no proof, and has no suspects.

The Disappearance is a book written on several levels that intertwine, there is the search for the missing boy, the politics of a small town, and at a deeper level the psychology of what happens to a family put under this kind of stress. This once perfect family starts to unravel. Nathalie withdraws into herself, while Joshua busies himself, running at full speed in every endeavor, including one that could permanently destroy the marriage. Will they ever find out what happened to Dan? Is the marriage irretrievably lost?

This is a very well constructed book, Efrem Sigel has done a very fine job indeed of bringing all of the elements together into a genuine page turner. You can order your copy from Amazon. Efrem also has a web site.

Simon Barrett


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