By Ekta R. Garg
May 10, 2017
Rated: Borrow it / 3 stars
A woman comes home with good news only to discover her boyfriend isn’t home. Her life begins to revolve around finding out what happened to him and why he left. As she tries to solve the mystery, she’ll uncover secrets that she thought were long buried. Author Mary Torjussen leads readers through the world of an unreliable narrator in the somewhat satisfying psychological thriller Gone Without A Trace.
Hannah Monroe is on her way home to her London suburb with the best news of her life. After a fantastic presentation, she’s all but guaranteed a promotion to a significant position in her company. With a lovely home and a great boyfriend, Matt, Hannah feels the final pieces of her life falling into place. She couldn’t ask for anything more, and she can’t wait to share with Matt the news of the positive reviews of her work.
When Hannah comes home, though, Matt isn’t there. Even more mysterious, all of his belongings have disappeared. All of his pictures, his vinyl records, the large-screen TV—everything is gone. Hannah’s things have returned to their original positions, where they used to be four years ago before Matt moved in. She pulls out her phone to text him, but all of their messages and emails to one another have disappeared too. Even her pictures of him on her mobile devices have been erased.
It’s almost like Matt never existed.
Hannah is furious. After everything they’ve been through, how can Matt just pick up and leave without an explanation? How can he take away her memories of him? At the very least, he should have left her a picture or two.
She refuses to let him have the last word, however, and she begins an intense search to track him down. Her best friend, Katie, pleads with her to let Matt go and get on with her life, but Hannah can’t let Matt have that satisfaction. Compelled by the need for answers, she starts spending time at the office as well at home trying to figure out what happened. Eventually, though, she can’t keep up with both, and all the effort and energy she put into reaching the next major milestone in her career start to wane.
Hannah doesn’t care. All that matters is finding Matt and making him answer for his actions. Her persistence pays off, and she finds answers. Every answer brings with it another question, though, and Hannah starts to wonder if she’s slowly losing her mind. As she gets closer to Matt and his whereabouts, Hannah is forced to face the fact that some of the answers she seeks are closer to her than she originally realized.
Author Mary Torjussen has crafted a book that will keep readers going as they try to keep pace with Hannah. The questions of “who” and “what” slowly morph into “why,” and Torjussen does an adequate job of keeping the truth just out of Hannah’s reach. Every time Hannah thinks she’s found Matt, another obstacle thwarts her progress.
Unfortunately, Torjussen leaves several minor holes open in the story, just enough for readers to lose their footing time and again as they ask their own questions—namely, why Hannah pursues certain choices when clearly most people would go in a different direction. Some of those choices feel contrived, as if Torjussen needs Hannah to make them so the story can move forward. In essence, Torjussen’s efforts at creating the unreliable narrator come across as clumsy at some points.
Hannah’s best friend, Katie, reads as nonchalant and not quite “best friend” material. At some point readers may start to wonder just why Hannah continues her friendship with Katie. The two seem to bicker more than anything else, and Hannah’s continual frustration with Katie is just as off-putting as the friendship itself.
The biggest drawback comes in Torjussen’s choice of point of view, in this case first person. Readers hear everything from Hannah’s point of view and no one else’s, which causes the climax to ring a little melodramatic. Multiple points of view in third person would probably have strengthened the story and carried it to the end.
Torjussen doesn’t shy away from a strong ending, however. Other writers might have elected to follow the tropes of the genre, but Torjussen refuses to tread that path. Instead, she takes her readers on a different journey. Such a shame that readers have to wade through silliness to get there.
I recommend readers Borrow Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen.