The Missing
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The Missing

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  777 ratings  ·  163 reviews
The author of The Clearing (“the finest American novel in a long, long time”—Annie Proulx) now surpasses himself with a story whose range and cast of characters is even broader, with the fate of a stolen child looming throughout.

Sam Simoneaux’s troopship docked in France just as World War I came to an end. Still, what he saw of the devastation there sent him back to New Or...more
Hardcover, 375 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2009)
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James Thane
This is a lyrical, beautifully-written book that explores the themes of family, compassion, revenge and forgiveness. Sam Simoneaux journeys with the U.S. Army from his native Louisiana to war-torn France, arriving on November 11, 1918, the day that World War I ends. Although he sees no combat, his experience there leaves an indelible mark that will follow him the rest of his life.

Returning to the U.S., Sam attempts to make a life for himself and his young wife by working as a floorwalker at a la...more
True Confessions: I am only halfway through this book but I am totally smitten. This Gautreaux chap writes with such strength and beauty -- well, words cannot convey the wonder of this book unless they are the words of The Missing itself. The plot centers around a kidnapped child whose parents work on a Riverboat as entertainers. Their daughter Lily was abducted in a New Orleans department store where Sam Simoneaux was a floor walker. He almost foils the villains in the act but is knocked uncon...more

Several weeks ago, I went blog surfing and ended up on a marvelous site called "Dew on the Kudzu" where the blogmaster was celebrating the discovery of a wonderful novel entitled "The Missing" by Tim Gautreaux. I read one paragraph of the review and knew I wanted to read this novel and immediately ordered it for my Kindle. Well, kind hearts, you must read this book! I not only read it....I reread it! Please read it and come back to this blog and talk abo...more
Sep 12, 2013 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cormac McCarthy/Faulkner fans who'd like a sympathetic hero.
This is a great book. I ran into a copy by accident and was astonished I hadn't heard of it before. "The Missing" is a big, sprawling, capital S-Southern novel with more Faulknerian tropes than you could shake a stick at (outlaws in ruined plantations houses, family honor and vengeance, a secondary character named Hightower). But this all works without feeling weighted down by cliche. Maybe because at its root, this is a novel with a mystery (well, two really) at is core. You find yourself pushe...more
The writing is deceptively simple, and at first I was annoyed by what felt almost condescendlingly simplistic (condescending towards the characters, more than the reader) but I was deceived and I am glad I gave the book the chance to prove itself. The plot is so intricate, and builds so slowly and subtly, that by the last third I was fully engrossed, cared more for the main character than I thought I would, and had some real moments of suspense because I truly did not know how it would end. One...more
I found this in my Grandpa's apartment after he passed away. It had a bookmark in it about a third of the way through. I don't think he ever finished it. I had taken several books out of his apartment and really, really needed to love at least one of them. The first one I started was terrible so I had to step back from this idea for a while. Then I picked up this book, and it was just fabulous. FABULOUS. I couldn't put it down.

The book is very much about family and the connections between famil...more
May 22, 2009 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Julie by: ELLE
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gautreaux probes the psyche of a WWI veteran, orphaned as a baby in a brutal massacre of his family, as he searches for a missing child while working on an excursion boat along the Mississippi river. This book has many attributes. The protagonist's motivations, the impact of his experiences on his actions, his ambivalences, shortcomings, and heroics are all developed in a very persuasive and realistic way. I also really enjoyed the many other characters encountered along the way; not all of the...more
I was expecting this book to be more of a page-turner than it was based on the reviews on the book jacket (silly me--why do I give any weight to those?). So that causes me to rank it lower than I might normally, because I was really looking for a page-turner. But still it was a good book, and well-written, for what it was. It was a piece of historical fiction set in the South in the Prohibition era-1920s. The characters worked on a riverboat as musicians and basically security guards put in plac...more
Just after WWI, our hero, "Lucky" has a nice little wife, house, and job as a floorwalker in a fine department store. His life changes dramatically one day when a couple report their child missing in his store. During his search, he finds a toothless old crone shaving the head of a beautiful little 3 year old girl in the basement of the store, and finds himself knocked unconscious immediately thereafter. He is fired from his job and begins his own search to find the missing child. And that's jus...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Reviewers appreciated not just the prose and the characters of The Missing but also how different it was from most contemporary novels. While much fiction today revels in ambiguity and irony, Gautreaux's story has an overall moral theme about justice and revenge. That's not to say it's a sermon, however: several critics compared the book to an adventure novel. They also appreciated the book's unusual pacing that "carries us along as it branches and swells, as if inspired by the great river on wh

Tim Gautreaux's previous novel "The Clearing" was one of my favorite novels of the decade. I liked this novel just as much. Sam Simoneaux returns to Louisiana from the first world war, gets a nice job as a floorwalker in a department store, then loses his job when a girl is stolen from the store. This leads to a quest to find the missing girl and return her to her parents, involving trips up and down the Mississippi River on a riverboat. That brief premise does no justice to the twists and turns...more
Wonderful! Tim Gautreaux has outdone himself with this one. I didn't think he could get better than what I've read before by him (everything), but he has.For anyone who has grown up not knowing a parent this book gets to the very heart of that experience.And that's just part of the magic he produces in this gentle tale of a man searching for a missing child up and down the Mississippi River. Others are missing too from his life and we travel with him on his road to understanding. Set in 1921 Lou...more
I should have realized with the fly cover on this book (small print and plenty of information) that this was going to be a book dense with characters and details. We first meet Sam Simoneaux when his ship docks in France just as the armistice is declared. Sam doesn't need to see " action" to see the senseless of war and when he returns he wants only to settle down with his wife and try to have something akin to a normal life. His job is a floor walker in a dept. store and when a couple approache...more
A really entertaining read. A New Orleans man returns home from WWI and finds a job as a floorwalker in a large department store. Unfortunately for him, a 3 year old is kidnapped while he is working and the store fires him, with the promise of him being able to return to the job if he finds the child. He takes a job with a Riverboat, where the child's mom, dad and brother work and proceeds to retrack steps to locate her. So many events take place while he is on his quest and his life gets very i...more
I came upon this novel at a book signing in New Orleans, where I had the pleasure of hearing the author read from it. The story takes place on the Mississippi River in the early 1920s; it is told from the perspective of a young man embroiled in the search for another family's lost chid. Along the way, he confronts the slaughter of his own family, a violent scene that took place when he was an infant. While the book obsesses over the importance of blood bonds, it ends up broadening the definition...more
Stuck between three and four stars. A long book but quickly read in the past three days. The story was engaging, I liked the characters and always enjoy a dip into a world I am unfamiliar with, in this case, life on a riverboat post WWI. My ambivalence about the number of stars I suppose is that some of the story seemed far-fetched or just overly dramatic. Really, a clan of murderous, ne-er do-wells by the name of Cloat (Box, Grill, Batch, Slug and Percy)living in the backwoods swamp? But overal...more
Not to be confused with other stories bearing this title, “The Missing” refers not only to the abduction of a small girl called Lily, but also the psychological effects of family loss both on her and on Sam Simoneaux, the young French-speaking American who dedicates himself to finding her. Nicknamed “Lucky” for having landed in France off a US troopship just after the armistice which brought World War 1 to an end, Sam’s good fortune runs out when he loses his cushy job as a Louisiana department...more
This book took me a while to get into the story - while I was immediately interested in the premise - a little girl is kidnapped from a department store and Sam, the floorwalker, is blamed for letting the kidnappers get away - I didn't feel fully vested in the story until I was about 30% into the book.

The novel weaves several stories into the main story - Sam feels guilty for losing the child and after he loses his job because of it, he signs on to work the ferry boat with the girl's parents and...more
This is an excellent book. The story starts in France at the end of WW1, where the main character, Sam, is helping to clear unexploded ammo. No one in the unit knows what he is doing,but they carry on organising explosions anyway. After an accident which affects Sam deeply they are shipped back home, where Sam gets a job in a department store in New Orleans.
Again this goes horribly wrong when a little girl disappears in the store, and Sam handles things badly, leading to the sack. He decides to...more
Spoiler: This book's title says it all-- it is filled with characters that have things that are"missing". The young girl missing a finger; Sam missing a young son that died, and missing a family of origin he never knew, as well as missing his wife while on the riverboat travels; the 3 year old child abducted from a young family, and the rich couple who stole her because they were unable to conceive a child on their own. In fact, most, if not all of the characters were missing something. As reade...more
Beth Rear
This is my first book by this author and it was excellent. He combined some history of life in the bayou with a mystery - and the main character coming to terms with some issues that have haunted him throughout his life. I am anxious to read more from this author.
Trey Hoffman
The story and characters started off strong and I was really into the book, but as the plot continued I lost interest a bit. The time period and geography (river boat on MS river) of the book makes the read interesting. I don’t really recommend this one.
Mary Kay
If you forced me to pick the best living author writing today, I would tell you that choice would be impossible. There are so many great writers out there, in so many different genres. If you then threatened to blow me to kingdom come if I didn't pick one favorite author, I would say without hesitation, Tim Gautreaux. Would not even hesitate. This man creates, seemingly without effort, a real world in which things happen. Big things, sometimes. Yet he writes in such a quiet, understated way that...more
I loved this author's book, The Next Step in the Dance. He really knows Louisiana and the south. He is a great storyteller.

This is also a great story. It's set in the 1920's, the last days of the big steam paddle wheel boats that rode up and down the Mississippi. Sam takes a job on one of the boats. He's lost his job because he was partly responsible for the kidnapping of a young girl. He thinks he'll be able to help locate her somewhere up and down the river. A lot happens and he's able to find...more
Gautreaux, Tim. THE MISSING. (2009). ****. Here’s another nominee for this year’s Edgar Award. The author had critical claim for his previous novel, “The Clearing,” and this one has been eagerly awaited. He is a professor emeritus in the creative writing department at Southeastern Louisiana University, so you can expect his settings to be authentic. As expected, this novel is set in and around Louisiana, and a great deal of it is spent on steamboats on the Mississippi. Our protagonist is Sam Sim...more
This book was extremely well-written, and some of the descriptions were breathtaking. There was also the skeleton of an excellent plot, but it felt as though Gautreaux had ten dictionaries full of research that he simply HAD to include, whether or not it added anything to the story. At the end, I had little idea of what he was trying to do. At first, I thought the story of the missing girl and his own family would be tied together somehow, and then they weren't. Often, the three plot ties (his t...more
It's New Orleans at a time just after WWI. Sam Simoneaux returns from the war, not engaging in action buy experiencing the horrific aftermath of the conflict. He's ready for a quiet life and accepts a job as a floor walker at a department store. A little girl is kidnapped from the store when he is on duty and he loses his job.

Having lost a child himself, he is anguished by the parents' pain. He accepts a job, joining them on a steamboat providing entertainment along the Mississippi waters. Sam f...more
This is a truly astonishing, and very cleverly written book.
Other reviewers have described the plot, so I won't do that in detail here, as for me the books haunting and lyrical quality comes from the authors exquisite use of language.
One line I will remember forever is when Sam meets the 15 year old August and he describes the boy as someone who "breathes in knowledge and breathes out accomplishment".
So much said with so few words, and this is the tenor of the book throughout.
The main character...more
It seemed like he was trying to make a social commentary about the hard lives of musicians, but that got buried under the subplot of his lost childhood.
His descriptions of the steam boat were thorough, but could've been shaved down to more basic descriptions.
I was a bit annoyed by the parts that were in French, because I don't speak it. I would've liked it better if he would have added contextual clues to those parts so I could've made more sense of them.
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