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The Missing

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,533 ratings  ·  262 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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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,533 ratings  ·  262 reviews

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Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Reading, or rather listening to THE MISSING, was an incredible journey through emotions, and it was one of those novels that kept me reading both for the story and the characters. For me this was the first novel by Tim Gautreaux who turns out to be the Master of writing that absolutely appeals to me. Now I am adding Gautreaux to the Authors I will follow.
4.5 stars

"There were people missing in his life like big holes cut out of the night sky, and Sam felt powerless to do anything about it. He was only one person in a planet full of incomplete seekers…"

I was first introduced to the writing of Tim Gautreaux after reading The Clearing. I became an instant fan. Gautreaux is a wonderful storyteller with vivid descriptions of the south and excellent characterizations. In fact, no matter how many characters you may meet up with in the pages of his books
Diane Barnes
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I am tempted to just give this book 5 stars and leave the reviews to those who have done a superior job in their own reviews. Novels don't get much better than this.

I have walked with Sam Simoneaux through France at the end of WWI. As a floorwalker in a large department store in New Orleans where he fails to prevent a kidnapping of a 3 year old girl. I have ridden a steamboat up and down the Mississippi River, on horseback and muleback and foot through the wilds of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ar
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
Things in life have a way of coming full circle, one way or another.  Aptly titled, the missing here refers to family, memories, and more.  There will be dealings with the nefarious Skadlock family, who are lethal enough to be given a good lettin' alone by the law.  Not to be outdone, the Cloat clan's brutality is legend.  Time is spent on a steamboat that travels from town to town on the Mississippi River providing music and dancing.  Original story and fascinating characters. Can't wait to rea ...more
Elyse  Walters
Sam Simonesux’s brief stay in France during the Great War - leaving his home in Louisiana- with the U.S. army, had instilled in him the understanding that “the world presents unsolvable tragedies at every turn”.
Sam’s assigned job - first and only time in the Army sounded horrific: removal of unexploded bombs, artillery shells, grenades, and bullets.
Having just watched the mini series - Chernobyl- my awareness and sensitivities were heightened about Sam’s job. Poisonous gas filled munitions wer
Sam Simoneaux is the floor-walker at a major retailer in New Orleans when a little girl is stolen from her parents. His failure to prevent the theft costs him his job and embroils him in the lives of the girl and her family. His search for Lily brings him face-to-face with all the forms loss can take in a life and reconnects him with a loss of his own that needs answers.

There is a flavor to this novel that is uniquely Southern. You can feel the rock of the Mississippi River, see the small towns
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sam Simoneaux is a lucky duck and a good guy. As a baby, he was the lone person to survive a family tragedy, made it through World War I unscathed, and remained healthy while illness took the lives of loved ones around him. But as in the case of others who fare well despite next to zero effort on their parts, he has a little bit of a hero complex. He might go to more extremes than you or me to prove his worth.

In New Orleans (in sites you may recognize from A Confederacy of Dunces but set decades
James Thane
Oct 27, 2011 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
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fais do do. Put on your dancing shoes, bring a fiddle or seat yourself at the piano bench, drink some moonshine and keep one eye open for the bad guys. Or, if you prefer kick back and watch the sunny south lands slip on by on your riverboat cruise. Each page of this glorious read was so vivid and alive with descriptions you’re right there with the characters for live action. Just imagine being on a horse the colour of an old mattress that rears up when spooked by the water moccasins as you trave ...more
4+ stars - In ‘The Missing’ by Tim Gautreaux, the main plot element revolves around a three-year-old girl, Lily Weller, who disappears from Krine’s department store, where our main character, Sam Simoneaux, is the head floorwalker. One of Mr. Krine’s rules is that the doors of the store must be locked within fifteen minutes of a child’s disappearance. Lily’s parents, Ted and Elsie Weller hold Sam responsible because he didn’t follow this rule. Mr. Krine fires Sam.

Although Gautreaux takes Lily’s
Connie G
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sam Simoneaux is haunted by the missing--his parents and siblings who were slaughtered in vengeance, his son who succumbed to an illness, and the dead soldiers and civilians in a small French town in the Great War. When he returns to Louisiana after cleaning up unexploded grenades in France, he takes a job as a security floorwalker in a large department store. A young girl is kidnapped while her parents shopped. He's knocked unconscious by the criminals, and they escape with the girl.

The missin
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
4.5 stars.

“There were people missing in his life like big holes cut out of the night sky, and Sam felt powerless to do anything about it. He was only one person in a planet full of incomplete seekers . . .”

This book is overflowing with places and people and plot that will appeal to anyone who appreciates the best in Southern literature. Another outstanding, multi-layered masterpiece from Tim Gautreaux. I consider this novel less “gothic” than his earlier book, ‘The Clearing,’ but in both novels
Jul 20, 2013 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
Tom Mathews
Like the river it takes place on, Tim Gautreaux's second novel meanders relentlessly to its preordained destination. It is alternately as light and entertaining as the Mississippi riverboat that is its setting and as dark and threatening as the search for a kidnapped child that drives the story onward. This story gets my highest recommendation. ...more
Kirk Smith
Tim Gautreaux is an excellent author. The Clearing may still be his best novel, but this one is also very good. What is so noticeable is how the story prevails, nothing gets in the way of the plot. I sometimes enjoy author's theatrics in other novels, but Gautreaux's ability to stay in the background is the mark of a truly great novelist. Good story, great author! ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Others have said it better than I in reviews. So I'll just give a short reaction. 4.5 stars in story telling ability and 5 stars for the historical and reality onus of running a tour ship on the Mississippi- jazz music and dance included.

It is his masterpiece. The only reason I could not give it 5 stars was that at times I felt (like in real life) it left me hanging for a hook of embedding to the original characters. Yes, Sam was always there but I felt it was far more his story than the long d
Feb 07, 2010 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
Apr 18, 2012 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
Julie Christine
Apr 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Julie Christine by: ELLE
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 05, 2009 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
Sep 11, 2013 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
Anthony McGill
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-general
I was lucky enough to purchase a beautiful first edition from a remainder shop at a very low price a few years ago. If I had known how brilliant this novel was I would have been honored to fork out for the full price!
A mesmerizing read and one of the most stimulating I've read in the last ten years. Not only a fascinating and superbly constructed story that captures period and place so expertly but written with total mastery of the English language.
A joy to read for the exciting scope of adventu
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: oz-a-to-z-2020
Setting: Louisiana, USA; 1920s:
Having previously enjoyed 'The Clearing' by this author, this was another great read.
Sam Simoneaux is a floorwalker in a New Orleans department store when a 3-year-old girl is kidnapped from the store on his watch - losing his job and feeling quite a degree of responsibility for the parents' loss, Sam leaves home to hunt for the missing girl. The parents are entertainers on Mississippi paddle-steamers and their daughter was a talented and precocious singer as part
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
Patrick Read
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true masterpiece filled with rich characters and not so vibrant settings, one could easily get wrapped up in his style of writing. Check out 'The Clearing' as well, another well kept secret. My author of choice is James Lee Burke who mentioned this author once or twice so I checked him out, so very glad I did. ...more
One man’s journey from Post WWI France to New Orleans, the breadth of the Mississippi River, and beyond in search for what was missing in his life due to senseless violence that ripped his family from him at the age of six months. Simply written with a huge depth of meaning.
Oct 31, 2009 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
Nov 03, 2009 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
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
4.5* It is so easy to read the sorts of books that you expect to like, but I was looking for something different to read. I can't even remember how I stumbled on this book, but the setting of this book is one that I have never read about before. It was refreshing to learn about life on steamboats and how they brought jazz up and down the Mississippi river towns. I love a mystery, but found much more than that in this book. The characters felt very real and didn't do what I was expecting. It was ...more
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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

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