On the last ordinary day of her life, Abby Bennett feels like the luckiest woman alive. But everyone knows that luck doesn't last forever.… As her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lindsey, embark on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby looks forward to having some quiet time to herself. She braids Lindsey's hair, reminds Nick to drive safely and kisses them both goodbye. For a brief moment, Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace.
When Nick and Lindsey are presumed dead, lost in the raging waters, Abby refuses to give up hope. Consumed by grief and clinging to her belief that her family is still alive, she sets out to find them. But as disturbing clues begin to surface, Abby realizes that the truth may be far more sinister than she imagined. Soon she finds herself caught in a current of lies that threaten to unhinge her and challenge everything she once believed about her marriage and family.
With a voice that resonates with stunning clarity, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers a taut and chilling mystery about a mother's love, a wife's obsession and the invisible fractures that can shatter a family.
Barbara Taylor Sissel writes issue oriented, upmarket women’s fiction that is threaded with elements of suspense and defined by its particular emphasis on how crime affects the family. Next to writing books she loves to edit them, and with more than fifteen years in the profession, both as a bestselling author and as a developmental editor, she's got experience. Contact her via her website if you're interested. Please include the details of your fiction project (a brief summary and total word count) for more information and her availability.
Three and a half stars. When her husband Nick and daughter Lindsey set off on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby is looking forward to nothing more than quite time on her own. But when a furious storm that results in massive flooding sweeps thought the area suddenly quiet is not such a great thing after all. Especially when it appears her husband and daughter have vanished without a trace, resumed dead. But Abby is loath to accept that. She sets out to find them. But ends up finding a lot more than she bargained for. What she learns changes her whole view of her life, her family, her friends, her past and the future. And in the middle of her grief and confusion it seems her son Jake who is at college is pulling away from her and keeping secrets. Abby feels very much alone. It was very easy to feel sympathy for Abby. Given some of the behaviour and the l did struggle a bit with the friendship between her and Kate. It seemed that those close to her treated Abby as someone incapable of dealing with facts and I found that a patronising and annoying attitude. However it did ensure my sympathy remained entirely with Abby throughout, though at times I felt it was rehashing the same ground a little bit much. Still, I found it an interesting read, although I wasn’t a hundred percent happy with the ending. I thought one question in particular was not explained. An engaging read though I doubt I would put it in the same category as someone who said, ’If you love Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve, read Barbara Taylor Sissel.’ Not sure those comparisons stand up. Since I did enjoy this book, I would be interested though to read another by this author. Certainly enough to keep me interested.
With Nick Bennett stressed, trying to pack the car with their camping equipment, and daughter Lindsey, the only other member of the family going, lagging, not ready, Abby decided to cook them French toast for breakfast before they left. Abby was going to have a peaceful couple of days all to herself, with lots of special little things on her agenda, as son Jake was at school, studying for upcoming exams.
When they finally left, Abby felt unsettled, sure there was something wrong with Nick. He seemed agitated, not happy, and the more she thought about it, the more she realized he’d been this way for some time. But she didn’t give it any more thought, happy in her solitude….
The following day, Abby caught up on the news, and realized a devastating storm had hit the area Nick and Lindsey were travelling in. She tried to contact both of them on their phones, but the lines were down. Frantic, she began a dangerous and hair-raising drive through the storm to reach her friend, Kate’s house, which was right in the path of the storm. It would ensure she was on hand in the search for her husband and daughter.
Consumed by grief, unable to believe they were gone, Abby did everything in her power to find them. She just knew they were out there somewhere. But as she dug deeper into Nick’s past, she began to find evidence of a background she wasn’t sure she wanted to know about. Sinister facts began to emerge and she suddenly felt she hadn’t known her husband at all… Was she losing her mind?
This absolutely gripping mystery had me totally hooked! The twist at the end was one I didn’t expect, and I thoroughly enjoyed the plot. What would you do if your family vanished without trace?
In simple and very clear prose, Sissel does a good job with this suspense/mystery of a missing father and daughter. The mother/wife is naturally beyond distraught and refuses to believe that they are actually dead and this is where the author alternately shines and falls down a little. She does an admirable job with the character of Abby, the breakdown, the refusal to believe they are gone but it also slows the story down a little too much. I think it would have better served the story line had there been just a little less of this. Anyway this is a good solid read, a little predictable but I did want to find out the where did they go and the why, so that to me is a success.
3 1/2 stars Summary: When her husband and daughter embark on a weekend camping trip,Abby Bennett is focused on the pleasure of some time to herself,until historic flooding descends on the region and the two go missing. Abby rushes to find them but weeks and then months go by with no sign of her daughter or husband. She refuses to believe they are gone forever,even as family and friends tell her to "move on." As she continues to search,Abby realizes that her marriage and her husband were not all they appeared,putting her and her son in mortal danger. It isn't until the full truth is revealed that Abby is finally able to heal and consider loving a new man. My thoughts: This story allows the reader to savor the language and the well-drawn characters exploring love,marriage,deception and trust against the backdrop of a gut-wrenching mystery. But I felt the very slow pace of the book and the little time for the hinted at romance to drag on. The story/mystery itself was well plotted,and for that I give it a half more star rating. I admit to putting it down several times and almost skipping to find out the end results. I just would have enjoyed it more I think at a faster-hold-your-attention pace and a little more romance instead. But I would certainly give the authors next book a try.
This book started off well, lots of potential in the first few chapters. For a mystery/thriller, it was a really good start, quickly establishing the characters, the setting, never detailing things in excess which can slow down the plot. The tension started at once, so that the reader immediately got a sense that things were just a bit off. As I said, great beginning. The problem with this book is that once the mystery starts, nothing really new happens. We get a few clues here and there, but it’s hard to maintain the tension without adding much plot. And that’s the problem. Nothing much happens after the first few chapters. The same information is recycled over and over from different sources and we get nothing fresh until close to the end, when everything seems to happen at once. What really bugged me, though, was the lack of cohesion at the end. So many things were left unresolved, or at least unexplained, that it made me wonder why I bothered to read the book at all. There was no sense of closure at all. I’ve run across this many times in this genre, so maybe it’s something inherently difficult to do with thrillers, but it still should be required for the author to provide a proper ending. I’d pass on this one and read something else.
This book was provided for me by Harlequin MIRA and Edelweiss. The book was published in March 2013. This book is a thriller/mystery with just a mild touch of romance. Abby's daughter Lindsey and her husband Nick head off to Hill Country in Texas for a camping trip. Abby is looking forward to a little time to herself. But, when her daughter calls from a gas station sounding scared and crying, and then is disconnected, Abby panics. Heavy rains have fallen in Hill Country causing flooding and people died. All those were eventually accounted for except for Nick and Lindsey. Now Abby is having a terrible time coming to terms with the situation. She falls into a black depression, unable to even function. Her mother, mother-in-law , her son Jake, and her good friend Kate all try to be supportive, but they want Abby to give up hope of ever finding out what happened to Nick and Lindsey. Nick is an enigma. He is a principled lawyer, but is also under suspicion of embezzlement. He had been under a lot of pressure before he took off on the camping trip. The cops seem to be treating this disappearance a little differently even though Nick had been cleared of a all charges. Jake is Abby's college aged son. He and Nick were at odds with each other over Jake's career choices. Jake is so worried about his mother but he is also an enigma. Does he know more than he is telling his mom?
This storyline is always absorbing for me. When someone disappears without a trace and the family is left in a kind of limbo wondering if they should move on, but unable to without knowing what happened one way or the other. While Nick's law firm is ready to take measures to move on without Nick and Nick's mother also wishing to have some kind of memorial service for her son, Abby resist taking these measures because it would be admitting they were dead. It would be incredibly hard to give up on your husband and daughter even when the evidence is making it clear that something bad happened and they aren't coming back. Nick harbored many secrets and now everyone is Abby's life seems to hold a piece to the puzzle, but unable or unwilling to help her find closure, while pressuring her at the same time to move forward and start a new life for herself. The story peels back a layer at a time the relationship between Abbey and her husband and the friendship between herself and Kate and the situation with Nick's law firm. The story has an unsettling atmosphere. The weird way people treat Abby, her son's support, then his withdrawal. The secrets Nick had, the police investigation, the reporter stalking Abby, and Abby's flashbacks of her life with Nick and her past with Kate had me riveted. I rarely ever let a book keep me up late at night unable to let it go until the next day, but his one did. I just couldn't stop until I knew what had happened to Lindsey and Nick. The ending is shocking and I never saw it coming. I would recommend this book to lovers of mystery, suspense and psychological suspense. A+
Abby kisses her husband, Nick and daughter, Lindsey goodbye. They are going on a father/daughter camping trip. Abby did not know that this would be the last time she would see her husband and daughter again.
Abby does not believe what the cops are saying about Nick. They are saying that he planned to run away with their daughter and loads of money. Abby decides to investigate herself and find the truth. How will Abby handle the truth when she learns it?
This book is full of emotions. I can not imagine being in Abby’s shoes. I would go insane with grief and just plain insane if my husband and daughter went missing. Nonetheless I could not fully relate to Abby. I felt that Nick was not that great of a husband and so the strong need to find him I just could not figure out the reason why. I could understand Abby wanting to find her daughter, Lindsey but again not Nick.
In addition, I found that Abby got on my nerves after a while. She was weak. She kept going all over the place with out any plans. It was no wonder that people thought she was going crazy and hearing things she wanted to hear. Like the white noise from the telephone being a sign that her daughter was alive. The ending seemed like there was suppose to be a happy ending. Overall I did find this book to be an enjoyable one. It did have my attention.
I just want to start by saying that I absolutely LOVED this book from the very beginning. I enjoyed reading every page that I turned.
I could only dream of being as strong as the main character, Abby! I admired her strength and refusal to give up! All of the characters were so different from what you normally read and I really appreciated that.
The author did a great job of writing an interesting twisted mystery. I found myself thinking of what I would do if I were in the situation throughout the whole book. I loved how the book had new twists and turns at every page turn! I certainly didn't expect that particular ending.
Barbara Taylor Sissel amazed me with her writing abilities and I won't hesitate to pick up another one of her books real soon! I definitely would recommend this book to anyone!
FIrst off, I have to give a disclaimer here... I share an editor with Barbara at MIRA books. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this novel, but was not asked to rate or review it.
I'm not a fan of contemporary mysteries. Usually. But the premise of this novel was so intriguing I felt I had to read it. I'm so glad I did! Barbara does a wonderful job of creating a fast paced mystery at the same time as she is able to create real characters who have flaws but are truly likable. This book kept me guessing, and each time I was SURE I knew what happened, I was wrong! It was a great read. I strongly recommend it.
Category: Relationship Novel "The slow pace of Sissel's novel allows readers to savor the language and the well-drawn characters. Exploring love, marriage, deception and trust against the backdrop of a gut-wrenching mystery leaves little time for the hinted-at romance. This quiet story is enjoyable and insightful." ~ RT Book Reviews, rated 4 stars
Evidence of Life was an interesting read for me, I actually enjoyed it for the most part. I don't usually read Mystery Thrillers, but the cover and synopsis were too good to pass up. Evidence of Life is told in first person perspective from Abbey Bennett's POV. She takes us back to the day where she experienced her last "normal" day with her husband and sixteen year old daughter before a storm hits the state of Texas and leaves many without word from their loved ones or means of salvation for themselves.
Among those lost in the storm are Abbey's husband and daughter who were suppose to go on a camping trip for the weekend. As days goes by and there is still no sign of her family, Abbey takes it among herself to go looking for them with the help of her friends and son. But a call from her daughter just hours before the storm leaves Abbey questioning her husband motives, ultimately taking her to discover secrets kept by everyone around her.
Honestly this book read like an episode of Without a Trace, and that's not exactly a bad thing, I love that show!! The only thing that the show is missing is the missing person's loved one's POV (that's a mouthful I know) and the only thing the book was missing was the detective and search and rescue team's perspectives. Abbey became so determined to prove that her family was still alive, it was almost too much to bare. But damn if she didn't go they lengths to find them. Amidst all the rescue and chaos Abbey is also dealing with secrets and its intriguing because it seemed like her marriage begins to fall apart after her husband takes on a high profile case. She begins to recollect things from those months and wonders what could have been had she done things differently.
One of the things that kind of threw me off a bit about the story was how self absorbed Abbey became after months had gone by and still no word from her family. She stopped caring for herself, the relationship with her son became strained, and I really felt for him because he tried to help his mother move on and accept the tragedy, but in the end he just couldn't. It was selfish, and to an extent I understand Abbey's need to believe her husband and daughter are alive, but she didn't lose everything. The synopsis is right on point with this book; as a mother and wife she becomes obsessive. As a family, they fall apart because of the little things.
Barbara Sissel really does have a great voice in telling this story. I was engaged with the book from the start, and it's such a beautiful tragic tale. I recommend this if you're looking for a light mystery book that will take you to the heart of family structures and what it means when ties are inevitably broken and the journey a wife and mother takes to try and salvage what she had.
Abby Bennett is looking forward to some quiet time alone as her husband Nick and daughter Lindsay leave for a weekend camping trip. Abby's life is turned upside down when a devastating flood rips through the area and Nick and Lindsay are presumed drowned and lost in the raging waters. Abby refuses to believe they are gone and sets out to find them. As she investigates, some disturbing facts and evidence come to light and Abby finds herself questioning everything she once believed about her marriage and family.
This was a quick, easy read. I found myself very quickly sucked into the story. I would have reacted in much the same way that Abby did--I would want to know for myself exactly what had happened. I liked the way Sissel placed clues along the way, but I was still surprised at the ending. The friendship between Kate and Abby was an interesting yet surprising one and I liked getting to see that side of it.
This book made me think about how our lives can change in an instant, how unpredictable human nature is, and that we never really know people--even those we are closest to, our friends, spouse, and even ourselves.
I thought this was an interesting story. I did find myself wondering how I would handle it if someone in my life just suddenly disappeared and was considered presumed dead. Presumed being the key word here. I think not knowing with 100% certainty would drive me nuts, and I thought the author did a good job of portraying how this impacted Abby.
I was miffed at how some of Abby’s support team treated her. I was annoyed with Abby’s wishy-washy behavior - although I think this was reflective of her desire to know what happened versus moving on with the life. I always maintain that when an author can evoke these kind of feelings from me, then they have done a good job writing the story.
This was my first book by this author and I am definitely interested in checking out some of her other writings.
My thanks to Harlequin Mira, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.
Abby Bennett's husband Nick and daughter Lindsay leave for a weekend camping trip. A devastating flood rips through the area and Nick and Lindsay cannot be found and are presumed drowned. This turns Abby's life upside down and she refuses to believe they are gone. Abby sets out to find them and as she investigates she discovers some evidence and disturbing facts that make her question everything she once believed about her husband and marriage. A compelling mystery with a surprise ending.
3 1/2 STARS. I think there could of more to this story. Where it makes you wonder what would I do if this happened to me. This book started out strong and had everything I like, mystery, suspense, a little love. It just didnt end on a high note for me.
Thanks to the Sister's for allowing me the time to read this book.
I read this book because I wanted to try this author. The story was full of grief and human nature. Throw in one character who had some mental problems and the story ended up to be a page-turner. The story was not unique, but was worth reading. I respected the character of Jake because he truly cared about what was happening to his mom. I will put this author on my list to read again.
I have to say the story was very compelling. I was hooked from the very beginning of the book. I can't imagine how I would feel if something happened to a beloved family member and I didn't know if they were alive or dead. So, being a Mom of people I love so much, the novel really hit home. We truly do feel the pain and intense, longing to know, that Abby feels. Living with doubt and fear can rule our lives and lead us to do things we never expect to do. Sissel made me love some of the characters she so well defined, loathe some of them as we were supposed to and to feel great empathy for some who are so desperate for love and acceptance. I guess my favorite character was Dennis Henderson - so steady and kind. I will never look at bluebonnets again with out thinking of the Indian legend she used in the story to bring healing to the main character, Abby. The story shows how one slip up can ruin or end a life. It asks the question, can we learn to forgive when we have been betrayed.
Sissel has a poetic style, strong and clear, not much fluff here, which is the kind of book that keeps me reading. It's an easy read, but take your time and savor it. Lots of great clues all through the book, and a great surprise ending.
That cover sums this book up for this reader. Mysterious, suspenseful and determination all in one package of a book. As not a regular reader of mystery/suspense unless it falls within the romance genre, I was pleasantly surprised by this book in the woman's mystery fiction world. I found myself really getting into the story and not wanting to put it down.
After Abbey's family goes missing after a storm, they are presumed dead. While it can't be proven, there is always that 1 percent of hope that they are actually alive. We read about how Abbey has to deal with not knowing and wondering what really happened. While she struggles with finding the answers she needs, the reader also discovers along with Abbey that not everything was as perfect as she thought.
I really felt for Abbey in this book and wanted to help her figure out the mystery as well. While it was a little predictable in most of the story, the suspense was enough to keep me interested until the last page. Not a bad book in my eyes considering I don't usually read these types of fiction. I am definitely going to keep this author on my radar for future reads!
I sympathized with Lindsey and I understood her insistence that she learn what happened to her family, as well as her refusal to give up until she had to. If, by some miracle, they were found alive, how could she ever explain that she gave up?
There were parts of the book that made me roll my eyes and tested my credulity. But it was an enjoyable book that kept me turning pages.
When I started reading this, I was pretty sure that it was essentially going to be the Ashley Judd movie Double Jeopardy (I obviously won't say whether that impression was correct in terms of how the plot went.)
The two are similar in terms of both substance and enjoyment. This is not the kind of book that you will want to re-read every year or two or the kind of book that you give to friends and family for their birthday or for Christmas. And that's okay.
This is the book that you bring with you on vacation or that you read when you're not feeling well. This book is comfort food and the literary equivalent of a Lifetime movie. (I do not judge; there are Lifetime movies that I love.)
What do you do when something you can't imagine happening, happens? How do you continue to go on when you simply can not? How do you have hope when, it seems, all hope is gone? These questions and more are what kept me going with Evidence of Life.
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and I will recommend this to anyone that likes a little mystery and a little romance and a little struggling to get through life demands. Another reviewer compared Ms Sissel's writing to Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve. I don't disagree. She (Ms Sissel) has tackled some unusual life issues, signs of Picoult. She has written them with words that just flowed through the pages, signs of Shreve.
This was my first, but certainly not my last book by this author. She was able to suck me in. I will be looking for more of her stories.
Look for this one, Evidence of Life to be available March 2013.
I had the good luck of receiving an ARC of this book. It was the first book by this author I have read but will certainly not be the last.
This book is wonderfully written. I enjoyed it from start to finish. I felt the story flowed very nicely and the writing was very expressive. The author captured my interest immediately and held it all the way through. I felt that the ending was true to the story and brought closure.
The character development was superb. Each character, even the absent ones, had a vital role in the plot. There really was no extra baggage to wade through and distract from the storyline. The relationships between the characters were realistic and added to the story.
This book is due to be published in March, 2013 and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, solid contemporary mystery.
This book does little to distinguish itself from many other books if this genre. We have a missing man and his daughter and the wife attempting to find out what has become of them. It is presumed that they are killed in flooding that occurs while that are on a trip. The two things lacking in my opinion is that there are not many twist or turns in the plot to get you fired up. Abby, the wife, and her friends seem to rehash information over and over again. Also, she seems to ebb and flow in her enthusiasm to find them. At one point for no apparent reason after being hot on their trail she decides to go back to teaching - she quickly changes her mind but that made no sense for a woman driven to find her family. There are others - she finds a woman's name, Sondra, and a number on a card she finds in her husbands things and doesn't call it for a long period of time! Duh!
Death in the family, no matter the circumstance, is hurtful. Death of old-aged parents, who've lived long and full lives is not exempt. Even more for spouses... And it's true what is said, how unnatural it is for children to precede their parents in death. So, it didn't surprise me how, in the story, Abby almost lost all of her sense and bearings when her husband and daughter disappeared after a devastating flood.
I've been doing a reading marathon of Sissel's books these past couple of weeks, and I've concluded that I'm strong enough to be inundated with too much drama without choking. The thing is, all things come to an end...winter gives way to spring; dawn breaks the dark of night; grieving ends. Just as in Sissel's stories, there's always redemption, and just like her characters, after all the heartaches, I feel the relief at the end.
I would first like to say I have received this book through the goodreads giveaway. I have had the wonderfully good luck to be able to read this advanced copy. This book is a wonderfully well written book dealing with a mother's worst nightmare story line... It was a very interesting novel that kept you glued to your seat and the story all the way through to the end. The author kept you guessing what truly happened. Once I picked it up I didn't wish to put it down. The author did the most wonderful job creating a fast paced mystery. The characters were so real you felt like they were your next door neighbors. This was an exellent book and a wonderful read. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to read a truly good book. A must read!
Barbara Taylor Sissel does it again. She pulled me in right from the start with this story. Abby Bennett is faced with the worst fears...the tragic loss of her husband and daughter. As she discovers inconsistencies and unanswered questions, she cannot process grief because she isn't sure of death. Some unexpected events keep this story fresh and give you some surprises. All is not what it seems, sometimes. The characters are well written. The story takes place in Texas, the descriptions of the terrain makes me want to visit soon! I'm so happy to have stumbled upon this great author because I've now read all her books. If Evidence of Life is your first exposure to this author, you should definitely check out her other books as well.
I thought this book was well written ,although I feel the story line kind of dragged on for too long before you got to the truth of the matter. The main characters were well developed. I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know what had happened to Nick and Lindsay. I would have liked a better ending to the story, although at least we got some answers and some action. My heart went out to Abby, because not knowing what happened has got to be the worse thing. All in all, I liked the book. A good suspenseful read, it keeps you reading that's for sure. I would recommend to those who enjoy a good suspense story.
Evidence of Life was written by Barbara Taylor Sissel
I had not read this author before and storyline was different what I usually read. I picked it up and did not want to stop reading. this author did a great job with the characters and this story. Her husband and daughter went missing when they left for a camping trip and there was flooding in the hill country of Texas where they went. Everyone says she must move on with her life when no bodies are recovered and things happen to keep her hope alive. If you like a mystery,you will like reading this book.
Abby's husband and daughter head out on a camping trip, and terrible floods hit the area, with no sign of them anywhere. They are presumed dead and Abby is encouraged to move on with her life. But her grief and questions are too great and she starts investigating things on her own. And what she finds only leads to more questions.
This was a very sad story. Abby's grief is palpable but it raises the question, is it really better to know the truth?