On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals - sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.
Still Missing interweaves the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfold through sessions with her psychiatrist, with a second narrative following the events after her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.
Still Missing is a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted novel.
CHEVY STEVENS lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and daughter. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s hiking with her two dogs on her favorite mountain trails and spending time with her family. Chevy's current obsessions are vintage airstreams, Hollywood memoirs, and all things mid-century modern.
Chevy's debut novel, STILL MISSING, was a New York Times bestseller and won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel. Her books, including THOSE GIRLS which Stephen King called "incredibly scary" have been published in more than thirty countries. Her seventh novel, DARK ROADS, is now available. Please visit her at www.ChevyStevens.com.
REVIEW POLICY: I only rate books I really love. This is a way for me to share my favourites.
Yeah, if anyone’s looking for some really hollow characters who behave in ways that make no freaking sense, plot development that is not even remotely believable, and disastrously bad writing that’s actually kind of funny sometimes...schyea dude! Look no further, because this one has it all. In fact, it even has the bonus of a supposed “twist ending” where the author apparently mistook the word “twist” for “pulled it out of my ass because I couldn’t think of anything better.” It’s entirely possible James Patterson was a consultant for this, and the fact that he isn’t even acknowledged could attest to how busy Stevens was working on her editing.
Seriously, if you want to read a thriller or suspense novel about a twentysomething woman abducted and kept secluded in a structure from which she cannot escape, raped, and forced to bear her abductor’s child, go read Room. If you’ve already read this, loved it, and are perusing the reviews for some other book ideas, I think you’d love James Patterson.
I have come to realize that if a book's jacket is covered in praise from authors but not a single critic, it's a bad sign. I was hoping Still Missing would be an exception since it has a high rating from readers here on Goodreads, but no suck luck.
The biggest problem is that Chevy Stevens is simply not a very good writer. I was only a few pages into the book when I came across this clunker: "Mom may be small, barely five feet, but I was the one always faling short." (Sigh.) It just got worse and worse, all the way to its utterly RIDICULOUS twist ending. The author has never met a comma splice or a bad cliché she didn't like -- And how's this for character insight: "I was willing to bet she rinses out her pantyhose every night and always wears a full support bra." What the hell is that even supposed to mean?!?!
I really did not like the setup of the narrative being told in sessions to the therapist. Stevens is simply not skilled enough to pull off this trick; there were even times when present and past tenses were used incorrectly. Also, the way she made post-abduction Annie display her trauma was with forced bad-assness. Every time Annie made some “I’m such a bitch” comment to “Doc” I pictured Sandy at the end of Grease pretending soooo hard to be cool in her leather jacket. To prove how damaged Annie was, every other word became “hell” or “damn” in some lame attempt to make the reader think, “Ooh, she’s been through so much; now she’s tough and standoffish.” All it made me think was, “Who knew being kidnapped and held captive could turn you into Avril Lavigne circa 2002?”
Oh, and let's not forget that author must have been absent on the first day of Creative Writing 101 when irony was discussed. Good lord. When The Freak gives Annie the book about natural pregnancy, she couldn't just leave it alone; she had to beat the reader over the head with "Yeah, that was The Freak, because, you know, abducting a woman, locking her in a cabin, and raping her is real natural." That's just plain insulting as a reader - we GET the irony; you don't have to spell it out for us. Same thing with the "I like cats" scene.
(While we're on that subject, let's not forget the masterful line "Luck was my whole damn marketing campaign. Now, that's irony for you." Um, no, actually that ISN'T ironic. But thanks for playing, Alanis!)
And can I just say for the record that if I read the word "Freak" one more time I was going to scream? Annie calls her kidnapper "The Freak," which... Ok, whatever. But then she has to use the term about five times per page, and even throws in "freaky freak" and "friend of freak" and "a freak like The Freak," and "Freak freak freak freak freak freak," and OHMYGOD someone please make it stop!!!
Then we come to the ever-so-complex character of Luke. Seriously? Handsome, supportive, good cook, loves his dog, so damn perfect that he apologizes for being too nice? I bet he turns water into wine and can make a tiny amount of oil last for 8 nights, too. I laughed my ass off when Annie hugged him and the smell of restaurant clung to him: “oregano, baked bread, garlic. He smelled like long dinners with friends, like too much wine and laughter, like happiness.” HAHA! Have you ever smelled someone who has been working in a restaurant – any kind of restaurant - all day? They smell like a big greasy onion ring and nothing else.
All right -- one last complaint before I return this crapfest to the library: As SOON as Gary was introduced in his nice suit I knew she was going to sleep with him. So corny and predictable, not to mention a horrible thing for a cop in his position to do!
I actually think this book has the PERFECT balance of mawkishness and suspense to be made into a Lifetime movie. Woman in peril? Check. Sex scene with inappropriate but hot guy? Check. Betrayed by family member? Check. Dead baby? BONUS POINTS! It would have to be a lesser Lifetime movie, though – No big Sunday night premiere and probably some unknown soap opera actress in the lead role. This story just isn’t highbrow enough for a big name star like Jennifer Love Hewitt. (For the record: THAT’s irony.)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Holy moly this book is so good in all the baddest ways! I feel kinda guilty for enjoying something so dark but I have to give it five stars because, EMOTIONS.
The first half of the book follows Annie who's been kidnapped by The Freak and forced to live in a cabin on the mountains. The things she goes through are brutal and there's more trigger warnings than I could count on both hands. The second half shows her attempt to reclaim her life and deal with the trauma of the aftermath. Yet there is an underlying unease that there's still more trouble coming Annie's way.
I am not sure why I went into reading STILL MISSING with such low expectations but I did, and boy was I pleasantly surprised! I had this book on my "to read list" for awhile, and decided to finally read it after getting a recommendation from one of my Goodreads friends (Thank you Rita).
I didn't really look at the synopsis in depth before I read it-which is unusual for me but in this case it was good that I didn't- I didn't know what I was getting into. I normally prepare myself when reading a novel such as this, because I, myself have a history. Nothing quite as devastating as a prolonged kidnapping like Annie O’Sullivan's character endured...but something still painful to me. I connected with this character in many ways, as I am sure many women will/would. I related to the hiding away, the complete lack of trust in others, and the loss of confidence in one's self.
I brought this book to my parents house during a visit as I was reading it... my dad picked it up, and asked me why I constantly lose myself in books with such violence and despicable behaviour? I thought about it for a minute, and answered- "Because of some of the things that have happened to me in the past, I find joy in knowing that the bad guy is going to get his comeuppance in the end".
This is a book of survival, and empowerment. I highly recommend it, and list it among my favorites.
This is a hard book to recommend because it doesn't fit nicely into any category, some people will gush about it and others will hate it. There are many good bits that are weakened by a touch of poor writing, often weighed down by cliched phrases and the author's tendency to underestimate the reader's intelligence - like her frequent use of irony, only to then explain why that's ironic as if we couldn't get that on our own. The guy who abducts her (who she calls "The Freak") gives her a book about natural pregnancy and she has to say: "Yeah, that was The Freak, because, you know, abducting a woman, locking her in a cabin, and raping her is real natural." We got it, already. Then there's the part where she says "that's irony for you" and it actually isn't.
This is not a comfort read, but it doesn't strike me as something that will impress the more serious, harder-to-please readers either. But it's not only the irony, I also think Stevens made the wrong decision when choosing to write her novel in the style of someone talking to their shrink post-abduction and return. The chapters are called "Sessions" and the informal language used throughout gives the impression of bad writing (whether Stevens happens to be a good writer or not). Obviously, if you recorded a real person's sessions with their psychiatrist and wrote them down this would not make a well-written novel, and whatever effect she wished to create by doing this - perhaps she thought it would seem more real? - just kind of fell flat.
If you like books that are dark, creepy and gritty, then the plot should sit well with you. It's about the kidnapping of a realtor, Annie O'Sullivan, who is taken to a cabin in the woods (haven't heard that one before) and subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse. I think this book's greatest strength and the reason I still gave it three stars despite its many faults is the exploration of a victim's mind and how someone facing abuse day in and day out can learn to almost accept it as a way of life. This is something I have always been interested in when it comes to such as domestic violence, how so many people stay with their abuser and are even unsure of how they could cope without them.
By starting in the present and looking back over the period of abuse, Still Missing looks at a number of issues relating to abuse, reasons why Annie is unable to deviate from her captor's rules after escape, reasons why she didn't always hate him. The idea suggested is that when life goes wrong in a way we could never have foreseen, when things turn upside down, we cling to anything we can find in our lives that remains consistent and, sickening as it seems, for some people that happens to be the rules and patterns laid out by the perpetrators of the abuse. Stomach-turning, but an interesting look at the psychology of it.
This novel works far better as a psychological thriller than it does as a mystery. The twist towards the end is not particularly good, it didn't feel natural, almost as if it was an afterthought of the author (which it probably was but you shouldn't be able to tell) and not something that the story had been progressing towards. But if you are looking for a creepy page-turner and are not too demanding of the mystery genre, then this could be just right for you. If you'd like a twisted mystery that's more sophisticated, you should check out Gillian Flynn instead.
It was my youngest daughter Jamie that brought this one into the house, a mass market paperback with a badly bruised cover. I picked it up one morning on my way out to the porch to enjoy the fall air and a cuppa.
Well you know how it goes, I read the first couple of pages, or at least that was my intent. It was however, a good hundred pages later, before I came up for air. Morning had morphed into afternoon and I was suddenly chilly.
I had a family event I was expected to attend that evening and I confess to actually considering cancelling out, you know, “My regrets” just so I could finish this.
Family wins, still I did finish this later that same evening.
I loved the shifting perspective from which this story unfolds. It kept me glued to the page and anxious to know more. At one point I became so invested, that what I was thinking in my head came out my mouth, immediately followed hot on its heels, by the casting of furtive glances all about to see who might have heard my solitary outburst. Been there?
This is Chevy Stevens debut outing and it is a bona fide hit. Thanks Bay.
This was my first Chevy Stevens novel that I have read and it won't be my last. I really enjoyed this one. I also liked how Annie O'Sullivan's heart wrenching year-long ordeal and aftermath was told to us via her sessions with her therapist. It was a fast-paced, quick and easy read for me which grabbed my attention from the very first Session (chapter).
I have read so many good books lately from reviews/recommendations of my friends here at Goodreads! Thank you!
If my mother were Lorraine O’Sullivan, I’d have shot her self-absorbed ass and fed her decomposing corpse to the coyotes, while whistling the theme to Deliverance through my missing two front teeth. Which would have presented me with one of two scenarios: either I would have been locked up so fast I wouldn’t have had time to stop whistling let alone scream for an attorney, or Clayton Falls might have thrown a parade for me on the spot, to include fire engines and penny candy and clowns and the local marching band. Either way, though, it would have ended in fireworks.
But aside from parades and jail cells, STILL MISSING creeped me out something fierce. Heck, Deliverance (which I should disclose I haven’t seen) with its mountain men and male rape scene sounds more like rainbows and pixie sticks compared to what transpires in this novel. STILL MISSING is told through flashbacks via Annie O’Sullivan’s therapy sessions, as she talks about her yearlong mountain cabin confinement, daily rape, scheduled pee breaks, and attempts to escape. David, her captor, brings a new definition to the word psychopath.
There’s also a second narrative recounting events in her life following her escape, and frankly, it doesn’t sound like her life has improved all that much. Annie sleeps in closets, jumps at any sound that races through the night, and shuts down from the world around her. She’s a victim in every sense of the word, and her strong, vibrant nature and social life suffer accordingly. Reading about her dramatic change was near gut-wrenching, but this was a book I wasn’t about to put down. With its plot twists, true-to-life characters, confinement issues, and individuals with psychopathic tendencies, this novel has something for everyone, minus the kiddos.
With her debut novel, Chevy Stevens has already proven that she’s a psychological thriller master. I’ve already purchased her follow-up NEVER KNOWING, and I eagerly await the opportunity to be creeped out all over again. I just need to take a few deep breaths before I make the plunge.
We listened to this on a long car ride. It's a very strong psychological thriller, told from the perspective of the victim talking to her psychologist after being abducted. Annie was abducted, held hostage and then escapes her captor. Stevens does a wonderful job detailing what Annie must do to survive. You feel for her every time she ratchets down her self to keep going. And I don't think I've ever read a better description of PTSD than what Stevens details. This one keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. Wonderful narrator to boot.
I cried, I laughed, I felt sick, I felt anger. This novel has without a doubt won 5+ stars in my books!!! The best book I have read in a while.
The way the author told the story was compelling. If work didn’t get in the way, I would have read this book all day long. I wouldn’t have even gotten up to go to the bathroom. That’s just how good this novel was.
So many twists and turns. The author had me sitting on the edge of my seat the entire book! The character development is strong, you feel the pain, fear and anger the characters experience. The feelings were so strong, and so real…it was as if I was going through it myself. I didn’t know I could feel so much hatred towards a person that doesn’t even exist. It literally made my stomach turn in disgust.
I can honestly say there is nothing in this book that I didn’t like, there is nothing for me to criticize.
Anybody who enjoys a good book by Jodi Picoult would love this book!! I recommend this one to everybody!!! A MUST READ!
I recommend that you don't read this if you are a female real estate agent as it’s guaranteed to give you the creeps next time you show a house on your own. Chevy Stevens was herself working as a real estate agent when she got this terrifyingly scary idea for her first book and consequently quit her job to write it.
Annie O'Sullivan was a successful realtor on Victoria Island when she was abducted by a psychopath at the end of a house viewing and held captive for a year in an isolated mountain hut. Up to that point she was contented with her life. Although her more popular older sister and father died in a car crash when she was young and she and her mother had never got along, she had a good job, owned her own house, had a great best friend and a caring boyfriend. But after being held captive for a year, she is unable to trust anyone, lives in fear and is wary of anyone getting too near. Eventually she decides she needs help from a psychologist and gradually tells her the story of her year in captivity.
I liked the way this plot unfolded with Annie’s account of her abduction and terrifying year in captivity seamlessly interwoven with the continuing police investigation into finding the identity of the man who took her and why he targeted Annie. Although badly damaged psychologically by her abduction, Annie comes across as a strong character determined to get back on her feet and start living a normal life again. Her mother is more difficult to understand as a cold, self centred woman who seems to resent Annie and has made it hard for them to be close. Gary, the detective who interviewed Annie after the abduction is a lovely character, who is patient in taking Annie’s phone calls and supporting her after everyone else has given up. This was an excellent debut novel and I’m happy to discover a large back catalog of Ms Stevens thrillers waiting for me to read.
This was literally a book I had difficulty putting down! I was on the edge of my seat throughout the book! After reading this, you would never want to be a real estate agent. I highly recommend this book for lovers of suspense-thriller stories! Two thumbs up!
I knew going into this that Still Missing had a big twist, so as I read it I was trying to think of what the twist could possibly be. I kept thinking about one in particlar but I figured it was too crazy and sick to actually be the twist.
Well Everyone, I was right about the twist. It was the crazy sick twist that I thought of about 50 pages in.
Still Missing is my first Chevy Stevens novel, though I've been meaning to read her novels for years. From the reviews readers either love this book or hate it. I didn't hate it or love it but I did like it a whole lot. At first I had trouble getting into it and I thought I would hate it but the story pulled me in and I stopped being annoyed by whatever it was that turned me off at the beginning.
Still Missing is a taunt and emotional read. I won't recommend it because of the polarizing twist but I liked it and if you tend to like what like give it a try.
2018 Badass Books Reading Challenge: A popular authors first book.
There is a quote I want to use so badly to describe this book - but I CAN'T as it will give away the shocker of an ending. Needless to say I did NOT see THAT ENDING coming!!!!
One day real estate agent, Annie O'Sullivan is at her open house. It is at the end of the day when a man shows up. He seems harmless. His clothes are pressed and nice so he must be a nigh guy, RIGHT????? WRONG! Annie is abducted by a man who seems to know a lot about her. A man who wants Annie to live by his rules. Everything must be done on his time frame. His behavior is erratic. He loves to see her afraid as he terrorizes her but also enjoys when she reads to him. She spends a year as his captive. She endures being raped, beaten and worse.
Annie's story is told mainly through her sessions with her psychiatrist. Sessions where she early on tries to set some rules of her own. She will tell her story in her own way - no questions no interruptions. As she tells her tale of captivity, the reader is shown the horrific year she spent with this psychopath she refers to as "the Freak". Annie has PTSD and is dealing with being back in the community, being the subject of media attention, re-forming relationships with her family and friends. She has issues with moving on and daily living but as her session progress the reader does see her sound more confident and sure of herself.
Who was the man that kidnapped her? Why was she the target? How does he know so much about her? There is a twist that I did not see coming in this book! I thought this was your classic stalking and kidnapping story. I was a little off center on that one! Do not read ahead! Do not spoil it for yourself.
Η Ανν Ο' Σάλιβαν, μια τριανταδιάχρονη μεσίτρια ακινήτων, κάνει ανοιχτή επίδειξη ενός σπιτιού, χωρίς όμως ιδιαίτερη επιτυχία. Την ώρα που ετοιμάζεται να φύγει και να πάει να συναντήσει το αγόρι της, ένας τελευταίος ενδιαφερόμενος καταφθάνει και η Ανν σκέφτεται ότι ίσως τελικά είναι η τυχερή της μέρα. Πολύ σύντομα θα καταλάβει πόσο λάθος έκανε.
Ένα page-turner ψυχολογικό θρίλερ που προκαλεί έντονα συναισθήματα.
According to the review page for Still Missing, I guess you either love or hate this book???
WELL. I. FUCKING. LOVED. IT.
It was so very raw, so very honest and so very disturbing.
“I think people can be so crushed, so broken, that they'll never be anything more than a fragment of a whole person.”
HOLY SHIT did this book ever GO THERE. Chevy Stevens doesn't mess around. The main character, Annie O'Sullivan, is going to be abducted. She's going to be held hostage, her life irrevocably altered. She's going to be raped. She's going to be humiliated and dehumanized. She's going to be betrayed. She's going to be fucked up psychologically. Basically, she's going to deal with some horrific shit. And Chevy Stevens isn't going to wrap it in side-stepping metaphors or clichés. She's going to force your eyelids open so you have to deal with the kind of fictional reality that causes serious emotional reactions.
And I'm not going to lie, it's going to hurt a little.
“You can be as happy as you've ever been in your life, and shit is still going to happen. But it doesn't just happen. It knocks you sideways and crashes you into the ground, because you were stupid enough to believe in sunshine and roses.”
I was so completely devastated, angry, sad, frustrated and disturbed by this story and the characters involved - and I loved every minute of every word on every page of it!
Just rip my heart into pieces.
I can't believe it took me so long to come across this author.
Annie O'Sullivan, a real estate agent, sees one last potential customer at her open house and ends up abducted in the back of a van. Her year of captivity is told through her sessions with her psychiatrist. An emotional and traumatic story unfolds with Annie's captivity, her dealing with coping after that year and the search for the abductor coming out layer by layer.
“I don’t understand why you’re doing this.” My voice cracked. Damn. I had to stay calm. “Have we met before?” He was behind me, one hand on the middle of my back, pinning me down. “I’m sorry if I did something to offend you, David. I really am. Just tell me how I can make it up to you, okay? There has to be some way….” I shut up and listened. I could hear small sounds behind me, could tell he was doing something back there, preparing for something. I waited for the click of the gun being cocked. My body shook with terror. Was this it for me? My life was going to end with me facedown in the back of a van? I felt a needle stab into the back of my thigh. I flinched and tried to reach back to touch it. Fire crawled up my leg.
Chevy Stevens debut novel, Still Missing, hits every nerve and pushes every emotional button imaginable! By the time I finished the last page, I felt pummeled with all the emotions that I had just experienced and the twists have left my mind reeling!
We learn about a woman’s abduction, her year long captivity with a psycho, her escape, and how the trauma affects not only her but everyone close to her. It is told in first person through sessions with a therapist, and I liked this approach. The story starts out very fast paced, with her being kidnapped within the first ten pages. I was hooked.
The Freak, as she calls the captor in her mind, takes her to a windowless cabin somewhere in the wilderness. He reveals his plans for her over the course of a few days and she is horrified. He plans to keep her as his ‘wife’, where they will never leave this place, and live off the land. She is expected to bear his children. She must follow his rules, endure his beatings, nightly rapes, and psychological games. She slowly beings to lose pieces of herself. This is shaping up to be a pretty good story right? Hmm…
About half way through, she out of the blue gets an opportunity to get away from him. I just didn’t buy it, and started to question how the rest of the story would go. In the following description, I’ve left out some details of her captivity (such as the baby factor) because I’m not focused on that. He’s chopping wood, and wants her to stack it for him. He sets the ax down to do something, and she gets this idea to brain him with it. Ok fine. However, this woman has just givin birth to a baby a few weeks before, has not slept in five days, and has barley eaten. Somehow she has the strength to lift an ax and drive into the back of this mans skull. Have you ever lifted an ax? It’s not like swinging a baseball bat—those things are heavy. I just couldn’t buy that she could swing this with such power, overhead, and drive the blade of an ax into the back of a taller man’s head. Of course it works. He dies instantly. Wow that’s it? Really? In summary, she ends up walking down the mountain and finding the van and driving to the police. What a letdown! I was anticipating a final showdown with the bad guy. I think the author got to a point where she was thinking, well crap—I need to end this stuff with the psycho, so we can get to the part of the mystery that I really want to tell. I’m tempted to throw the term ‘deus ex machina’ with sudden strength, but that may be going a bit far.
When she gets back home, the story lulls a bit. Yes, I do understand how seriously screwed up she has to be, and can’t relate to anyone. I was just kind of bored. Finally about fifty pages left, the book totally redeems itself to me when revealing the who, and why of the whole story. I did suspect the mother the whole time, but the author gets points for creating a such a pathetic woman and the reasons for what she did to her daughter. In the end, I moved my initial rating from a 3 to a 4 because I did like the ending. I recommend for any fans of thrillers.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
The book blurb spells it out: a young realtor abducted from an open house, held captive by a psychopath for over a year, her journey of recovery. Partly told as sessions with her shrink, how she dealt with the trauma of her captivity hooked me more than the actual abduction story. Escaping was one thing, getting her life back another. “Maybe I should put up my own flyers: Still Missing”
I bought into her character - the anger, bitterness, sense of alienation; all of it rang true. A gritty subject with some twisted though not overly graphic sex, plot driven rather than exploitive. She’s foul mouthed - again I didn’t feel it was for shock-value; in her shoes I’d be swearing like a trooper too. If you’re in the mood for some great psychological suspense, give this a try. Pretty amazing for a 1st novel – look forward to reading more by her.
Of interest: Chevy Stevens lives on Vancouver Island, BC Canada where a beautiful young realtor named Lindsay Buziak was murdered at an open house on Feb 2, 2008. Published on Jan 2010 - not a stretch her murder the impetus for this novel. It remains unsolved "http://www.lindsaybuziak.com/website/"
This story is a heart-felt chilling and engaging story of an abduction. She tells us her harrowing ordeal via her sessions with her psych doctor. It's heartbreaking at times and very real in how maybe these extreme conditions accounted for in this story insidiously alters a victims state of mind. This story is not designed to be a fast paced story but rather a well spanned out story of courage and the evil that people do. Recently winner of The Thrillfest Award 2011.
After seeing a number of reviews for recent Chevy Stevens novels I decided to start from the beginning with her 2010 debut release, Still Missing. I confess that much of my interest arose from reading a glowing review written by Lisa Gardner, creator of the class act of Detective D.D. Warren. With promises of every page crackling with suspense, a haunting narrative, a compelling heroine and “one of the best psychopaths since Hannibal Lecter”, I had immense expectations. Disappointingly the reality was somewhat different for me but judging by the overwhelmingly positive sea of opinion, I suspect that I am in the minority. However, my interest did pick up and the novel improved as the second half opened with the investigation coming to the fore and an opportunity to witness the daunting recovery of a fictional post-traumatic stress disorder survivor at close quarters.
Still Missing is the story of thirty-two-year-old Annie O’Sullivan, otherwise known as “the lady Realtor who was abducted from Vancouver Island”, to paraphrase her new found celebrity like status after an open house in broad daylight sees her abducted and held captive for an entire year in a remote mountain cabin at the mercy of a mercurial psychopath. Opening four-months after her return home, Annie is giving therapy another shot and is brittle, damaged and downright angry at the destruction of her life and the demons that it has left her with. As long as she doesn’t have to draw pictures, embrace the whole ethos of opening up or answer question she makes a pretty easy patient who requires very little input from her psychiatrist. The result is an intense narrative made up of Annie’s outpourings and combining her gradual recovery with the graphic detail of her year in captivity through to eventual escape. The upshot is a brutal and unflinching journey through of the barrage of beatings, rape, starvation, isolation and the relentless punishment of living with a sadist. As is to be expected with such confrontational analysis, Annie’s torrent of words is relatively free roaming and unstructured. Devoid of psychiatrist input, Still Missing sadly never offers much of a framework for Annie’s analysis. Given that just four-months later she is living alone and supposedly getting by day to day I do wonder how well this equates with true life examples and the research that has gone into this portrayal.
From the outset the reader knows that Annie escaped and I felt the first half was a gratuitous misery fest of detailing many of her horrific experiences at the hands of the man who she comes to refer to privately as “The Freak”. Anyone who have glanced at the scantest media coverage of true life experiences of such matters will be fairly insulated against much of the suffering that Annie undergoes as atrocities such as abduction and captivity are both more harrowing and markedly more powerful knowing that they have actually occurred. I felt strangely unmoved by Annie’s narrative which is filled with irony and clearly indicative of her fragile state and in truth this first half provides minimal suspense or tension. The narrative structure is not particularly articulate and Chevy Stevens clearly relies on the reader awaiting the depraved actions to come and eventual escape.
Amid the mind games and petty rules that “The Freak” institutes and internalises into Annie’s daily schedule even after her escape, a remarkably resilient Annie demonstrates her maturity and composure by trying to understand the demons that drive him and his obviously troubled background. As she comes to realise that this is no random opportunity kidnapping but a carefully planned operation with a customised cabin prepared ahead of time she tries to understand why she has been targeted. In her efforts to alleviate her dire situation she exchanges memories of her childhood with an increasing alcohol dependent high-maintenance mother following the tragic death of her father and sister, all whilst assiduously gathering potential evidence from her all too brief glimpses into the past life of “The Freak”. In the hope of eventual freedom Annie begins to learn the responses that her differing reactions will elicit and becomes a much more submissive individual. The mind games are fascinating and Annie is repulsed when she finds herself coming to feel some measure of affection for “The Freak”, viewing him as eloquent and intelligent with the capacity to show kindness on occasions and clearly acknowledging the presence of Stockholm Syndrome.
After Annie’s escape and her return to her previous life the vicissitudes have left her psyche battered and bruised and she is no longer that same person who was abducted on that day in August and never will be so again. The stumbling journey towards learning how to manage her life after captivity is blighted by her constant low-level anxiety and the fear that she still might be under observation. As a series of trigger incidents see her working closely with Staff Sergeant Gary Kincade she is met with the dawning realisation that “The Freak” likely had an accomplice with a very specific reason to want to do her harm. The characters from her former life (ex-boyfriend, Luke and best friend, Christina particularly) all appear rather one-dimensional and the dialogue is frustratingly anodyne. As Annie realises that to piece together some semblance of a life she has to get to the root of why she was chosen, the twist and the glaringly obvious architect behind her fate will come as no surprise to any attentive reader. It is neither particularly well disguised or credible and as such there is little value in Still Missing as a mystery novel. Best viewed as a fictional journey from abduction to escape, Still Missing demonstrates the monumental difficulties of rebuilding a shattered and fragmented life. The result is a raw and courageous portrayal of the arguably more galling fight to grasp hold of the life that remains and escape the incessant fears of a life in peril.
In summary and given the fact that my lukewarm review is something of an outlier, I suspect this is simply a case of a mismatched reader and novel.
Still Missing is my third book by Chevy Stevens (and her debut novel) having read an arc of Dark Roads and Never Let You Go both of which I loved. I needed to know if this author is the real deal. Can she deliver over and over? As a reader, I'm ecstatic to say Stevens is the real deal! Now three books into her catalog of work, and I have no qualms about saying she's now an aut0-buy author for me. I can't wait to work my way through all her titles.
Still Missing is the story of Annie Sullivan, a thirty-two year old real estate agent who's kidnapped by a man who pretended interest in a house she was showing. She's swept away to a remote mountain cabin where she's held for a year before getting an opportunity to escape. During that time, she's repeatedly raped and held to a rigid schedule by the man she calls the "freak". Needless to say, when she finally escapes she's suffering a devastating case of PTSD. And that's about all I can say about the plot without major spoilers.
This story is as complex and convoluted as any I've read in recent memory. It unfolds through two narratives - one of Annie's therapy sessions with her psychiatrist where readers have a front row seat to the horrors Annie endured during her year of captivity, and secondly the present events taking place in Annie's life as she desperately tries to reclaim her old life and some sense of normalcy after returning home. Problem is . . . Annie isn't the woman she was before her kidnapping, and she can't seem to acclimate herself back into her old life. If that's not enough, she has a sense of lingering danger. Is it paranoia? Or something more?
I have to say that Still Missing is intense - I felt it from the moment of the kidnapping until the final page of the book. Stevens has mastered the art of setting and maintaining tone and pace in a way that keeps readers off-kilter and burning through pages even as the sense of dread and impending doom grows. I just knew something more was coming and kept reading and waiting for the other shoe to drop. What could be worse than being kidnapped and held in isolation for a year with a psycho? All I can say is "read it"!
Still Missing is a taut, tense, eye-opening heart breaker of a psychological thriller. My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner. It's intense, fast-paced and absolutely shocking. Well done, Chevy Stevens. I can't wait to read more of your work. Highly recommended to fans of psychological thrillers! Reviewed at Cross My Heart Reviews
Thanks to my friend Mitsy for recommending this. She thought I'd like the psychology aspects: each chapter is a therapy session. The therapy format is a vehicle for heroine Annie O'Sullivan to tell her horrifying story.
Annie is 32-year-old realtor living on Vancouver Island. She has a golden retriever, a boyfriend, a bitchy mom, and a stepdad. Neither Annie nor her mother have recovered from the deaths of her sister and father in a car accident years ago.
Annie's open house is about to end one day when a man arrives in a van to view the house. He seems friendly, but looks are deceiving. He abducts Annie and absconds with her to a remote cabin on a mountain. There her personal nightmare begins.
This guy brings new darkness to the word CREEP.
I don't want to give too much away, but this passage is particularly chilling:
It took him a second to give her to me, and as he passed her through the air a look crossed his face that I'd never seen before. He let go. For a heartbeat she was in the air, and then she dropped. I leapt forward and caught her just before she would have hit the floor. With my heart hammering my chest so hard it hurt, I clutched her against me. He smiled and got up to eat his dinner, humming a tune under his breath.
**Warning** A word of caution to potential readers: The abuse is vivid and visceral at times. He takes over her body and soul. If you're a survivor of any sort of sexual or physical trauma, you might find this triggering. Annie's suffering and psychological digging into her abuser's mind is so deep that I wasn't sure if I could keep reading the first third of the book.
But I'm glad I finished because the story ends up richer than I anticipated. It's ultimately a journey of healing and strength.
If I could give Still Missing more than 5 stars, I would. I was so spellbound upon finishing the book that I had a hard time articulating what made it so great. It was an incredibly written psychological rollercoaster that demanded my full attention and lingered long after I put it down. All that Annie went through, from her abduction, captivity, recovery and everything after were so entrancing. I enjoyed the device that the author used having Annie narrate during her sessions with her shrink. As she became more comfortable relating her experiences, the more she revealed her anger, trauma and helplessness. The depiction of her abductor and the year she spent with him was blatantly disturbing. But this book is so much more than her painful experiences of rape, deprivation and abuse. The entire second half deals with Annie’s recovery, the investigation and the shocking revelation that she must come to terms with. Just when I thought her endeavor was coming to an end, the layers peeled back to expose more unsettling aspects to the crime. This was an extraordinary debut that delivered great characters, writing, and above all else, an absorbing story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine Program.
Έβλεπα εδώ και χρόνια τα βιβλία της Chevy Stevens να φιγουράρουν στα βιβλιοπωλεία αλλά ποτέ δεν είχα διαβάσει ένα από αυτά. Η Εξαφάνιση ήταν η πρώτη μου επαφή και σίγουρα όχι η τελευταία αφού δεν με απογοήτευσε καθόλου. Καλογραμμένο, ευκολοδιάβαστο, με ροή που κυλάει πολύ εύκολα με αποτέλεσμα να διαβάζεται πολύ γρήγορα. Τα μόνα αρνητικά που μπορώ να προσάψω είναι ότι είχα υποπτευθεί το τέλος και ίσως ήταν λίγο τραβηγμένο σε κάποιες του σκηνές. Σίγουρα θα κοιτάξω στην βιβλιοθήκη και για άλλα της βιβλία 😊
This is my first book by this author. Even though her debut didn’t Waw me, I am always one that loves to give the next book a chance because authors are humans and are capable of improvements. I think this author has huge potential but lacks in mature writing style. Of course this is purely my opinion. Others loved it.
The sentence structure read as if a junior high student wrote the essay. **Warning for adult language** For example: “I can’t believe this shit? How the fuck did he getaway with it? It’s too difficult to explain all this shit to you…” etc etc. A lot of filler swear words with out any depth to the protagonist’s true feelings. What does she mean by ALL THIS SHIT??!! It just annoyed me. To be fair, we get into her head through her therapist a bit but again not really. It read very superficial. We don’t hear a peep from the therapist at all. It’s all her thoughts with little depth.
I didn’t enjoy her best friend Christina’s character either. She came across too pushy and selfish.
I rounded it up half a point for the pop corn ending. I wasn’t quite expecting “that” but again, the reason her kidnapping took place is so silly and childish, a major eye roll!
I read this book during a short vacation so in that respect, it was perfect mindless suspense book.