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The Missing

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,021 Ratings  ·  183 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
Hardcover, 375 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,249)
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James Thane
Oct 27, 2011 James Thane rated it really liked it
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
I don't read enough southern lit to proclaim this with any sort of authority but I'm going to say it anyway: this guy is one of the most powerful voices in the genre (and maybe even THE most powerful voice).

The writing here just incredible. This is the story of a WW1 vet home from the war who is fired from his department store security job after a young girl is abducted on his watch. He goes on to look for her via his new job working on a steamboat and the story chronicles his journey.

The stuff
Feb 07, 2010 Gina rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 12, 2013 Alison rated it really liked it
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
Apr 18, 2012 Brenna rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 05, 2009 Gary rated it really liked it

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
Ned Mozier
Feb 04, 2016 Ned Mozier rated it it was amazing
Every now and then I just need me some good old story, and Gautreaux delivers another one for me, absolutely pitch perfect, entertaining, dramatic, slightly twisted and peculiar. He’s quickly rising up my list of all time favorites. To be fully satisfied with a novel, I need to not only be entertained but come away enriched, and The Missing did it for me with its account of a WWI vet who returns to his native New Orleans with a new bride. The fun starts immediately, and he’s off on a quest to ab ...more
Nov 27, 2009 Shannon rated it it was amazing
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
Robert French
Revenge, justice and family. These are the key words that describe this powerful and wonderful book. It is a historical novel in the sense that it takes me to a place with which I have little connection. Having grown up in the northwest and living “out west”, I sometimes find it difficult to identify with and understand the south. I did spend several months during the mid-1960s in the south at a time of strife and violence and often felt like a “stranger in a strange land”. Tim Gautreaux describ ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Jun 01, 2009 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it
Shelves: july-aug-2009

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

Nov 03, 2009 John rated it it was amazing
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
Trey Hoffman
Nov 16, 2009 Trey Hoffman rated it liked it
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.
Jul 01, 2014 Debbie rated it really liked it
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
May 22, 2009 Julie rated it liked it
Recommended to Julie by: ELLE
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 02, 2009 Al rated it really liked it
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
May 12, 2013 Katie rated it it was ok
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
Jul 29, 2010 Judith rated it really liked it
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
Nov 08, 2009 Jan rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 24, 2013 Sherie rated it really liked it
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
Aug 19, 2009 Su rated it really liked it
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
Sep 20, 2010 Anthony rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-lit, fiction
Great book! It has been a while since I have read something that I would place in the literature category. Great pacing, a page turner, unpredictable, and rich. Something that deserves Pulitzer appreciation.

The story takes place during and after WWI. Young married man out of the war is working as security in a department store when a little girl is abducted on his watch. He feels guilty and takes a job on a party boat on the Mississippi and on the side looks for the girl. He also has some past
Mar 22, 2009 Ellen rated it really liked it
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
Jan 02, 2011 Laila rated it really liked it
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
Dec 03, 2015 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Louisiana is the setting for this riveting tale of a kidnapped child and the man on her trail - Sam Simoneaux, who feels honour-bound to help find her. Leaving his stalwart wife behind, he works his passage on a pleasure steamer up the Mississippi, entering a wild world of jazz, moonshine and lawlessness. It is a journey that will lead Sam to confront not only violent criminals but his own past, and to make some hard decisions about the value of vengeance.

Good story & a strong sense of place
The Cannibal
Oct 24, 2015 The Cannibal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Voilà ce qui s'appelle avoir une chance de cocu ! Sam Simoneaux ainsi que les autres combattants Américains, arrivent en France pour participer à la Première Guerre Mondiale le... 11 novembre 1918.

À peine descendu de leur rafiot, c'est des scènes de liesse partout : la guerre est finie. On pourrait penser se la couler douce, mais non, faut déminer les champs remplis de grenades, bombes, obus...

Dès le début, en quelques pages (40), l'auteur, de sa plume sans concession, nous démontre toute l'absu
John Welsh
Oct 20, 2014 John Welsh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This, Tim Gautreaux's third novel, takes everything that was great about his first two and adds more. There's music, heartbreak, drollery, poetry, history, philosophy and an astonishing high-definition physicality built into (rather than bolted on to) a simple, compelling story of lost children and lost parents. Paragraph-for-paragraph there aren't many writers with his gift for conjuring the real world from thin air, and none I can think of who match that with the wry, humane complexity Gautrea ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Antenna rated it really liked it
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
Courtney LeBlanc
Jun 01, 2014 Courtney LeBlanc rated it liked it
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
May 18, 2014 Liz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classy-stuff
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
Beth Rear
Jul 31, 2009 Beth Rear rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
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.
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Timothy Martin Gautreaux (born 1947 in Morgan City, Louisiana) is a novelist and short story writer who lives in Hammond, Louisiana, where he is Writer in Residence at Southeastern Louisiana University.
His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Best American Short Stories, Atlantic, Harper's, and GQ. His novel The Next Step in the Dance won the 1999 SEBA Book Award. His novel The Clearing won the
More about Tim Gautreaux...

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