Review: The Disappearing by Lori Roy

Title: The Disappearing by Lori Roy
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Two-time Edgar Award-winning author Lori Roy spins a twisted, atmospheric tale about a small Southern town where girls disappear and boys run away.

When Lane Fielding fled her isolated Florida hometown after high school for the anonymity of New York City, she swore she’d never return. But twenty years later, newly divorced and with two daughters in tow, she finds herself tending bar at the local dive and living with her parents on the historic Fielding Plantation. Here, the past haunts her and the sinister crimes of her father–the former director of an infamous boys’ school–make her as unwelcome in town as she was the day she left.

Ostracized by the people she was taught to trust, Lane’s unsteady truce with the town is rattled when her older daughter suddenly vanishes. Ten days earlier, a college student went missing, and the two disappearances at first ignite fears that a serial killer who once preyed upon the town has returned. But when Lane’s younger daughter admits to having made a new and unseemly friend, a desperate Lane attacks her hometown’s façade to discover whether her daughter’s disappearance is payback for her father’s crimes–or for her own.

With reporters descending upon the town, police combing through the swamp, and events taking increasingly disturbing turns, Lane fears she faces too many enemies and too little time to bring her daughter safely home. Powerful and heart-pounding, The Disappearing questions the endurance of family bonds, the dangers of dark rumors and small town gossip, and how sometimes home is the scariest place of all.


The Disappearing by Lori Roy is a moody, leisurely paced mystery.

Following the collapse of her twenty year marriage, Lane Fielding packs up her two daughters, Annalee and Talley and moves back to her small hometown of Waddell, FL. Her return is not easy since her father is facing allegations he abused the boys in his care at the now closed reform school for boys.  Lane is also the under the harsh scrutiny of the townspeople for events in both the past and present. The recent disappearance of college student Susannah Bauer adds to the turmoil swirling around town. When Lane’s oldest daughter, Annalee, goes missing, everyone, including Sheriff Mark Ellenton, fear a serial killer is in their midst.

Lane’s childhood was a nightmare of verbal and emotional abuse from her father. He also regularly beat her mother who did her best to protect her daughter from her husband’s wrath. Lane could not wait to leave her oppressive life behind and despite her teenage romance with Mark, she instead opted to marry Kyle Wallace and start over in New York.

Although her parents are clearly suffering the ravages of age, Lane is still quite  uncomfortable to find herself and her daughters living under their roof again. Working at a local bar, she works late and drinks too much in an effort to cope with her current situation. Annalee and her much young sister Talley are often left to their own devices but Lane does not believe they are involved in anything they should not be. However, with Annalee’s disappearance, she quickly discovers she should have paid much more attention to what they were up to in her absence.

Loosely based on the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and written from multiple points of view, The Disappearing is an incredibly slow-paced mystery that features an intriguing premise. With the exception and Talley and Mark, none of the characters are particularly likable and in fact, Lane’s over the top reactions to, well, everything, quickly wear thin. With some unexpected twists and turns, Lori Roy keeps the tension high as Mark and Ellen desperately search for Annalee.  While all of the storyline is completely wrapped up, readers might feel a little letdown with the novel’s somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion.

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