Book Review: ‘How Quickly She Disappears’ Is A Relentless, Unyielding Thriller

The Dry meets The Silence of the Lambs in this intoxicating tale of literary suspense, set in the relentless Alaskan landscape, about madness and obsession, loneliness and grief, and the ferocious bonds of family….

Over the years of reading and reviewing many books for Irish Film Critic and Red Carpet Crash, I have had the great fortune of coming into contact with up-and-coming writers and established ones who can still blow your socks off! You read intriguing stories, the keep-you-up-all-night yarns, the put-you-to-sleep tales and then you read ‘How Quickly She Disappears’ and it is all of the above. There is no doubt that author Raymond Fleischmann is a talented writer and the subject matter herein is very complicated.

We are introduced to Elisabeth and her twin sister Jacqueline. After the two have a falling out, Jacqueline leaves to run an errand and is never seen again. Elisabeth spends her whole life missing her and trying to find her but to no avail. We then meet Elisabeth who is married with an 11-year-old daughter, Margaret, and in a loveless marriage. Her husband John works for the Department of Indian Affairs and they live among a settlement of Athabaskan Indians in Tanacross, Alaska, a short plane ride from Fairbanks. The village of Tanacross is a far cry from the farmlands Elisabeth was reared on in Pennsylvania but she has never left her past or her sister, the longing to be back together with Jacqueline is overpowering and she never stops dreaming of her.

Gradually, the story of the lives of both girls is revealed in flashbacks and when the pilot who delivers the mail to the village arrives, the story becomes stranger and stranger. The Alaskan wilderness, the constant daylight, and the utter cold are exceptionally well presented. Elisabeth’s descent into madness increases as the pilot infers that he knows the whereabouts of her sister. What happens at this point is relentless in the abuse of power some have over others and it is very scary to see someone becoming frailer in their thinking. This is genuinely well-written and it is a very difficult subject matter to pull together. Raymond Fleischmann does a very good job and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Highly recommended.

Available in bookstores January 14th

Ann McDonald

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