Larry H's Reviews > The Vanishing Year

The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti
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I was torn between giving this 2.5 and 3 stars, so I'll round up.

When you watch a thriller or crime movie, at some point a character tells the beleaguered protagonist, Trust no one. If they listen to that advice, they find themselves questioning everyone's motivation, second-guessing seemingly innocent gestures even from people they know. (That is if they're smart, which characters in thrillers or crime movies rarely are.)

I operate the same way when I read a thriller or crime novel. I guess I've read so many through the years, and seen all kinds of twists, that I see almost everything as a potential clue toward the villain and/or the plot's resolution. That's definitely what happened when I read Kate Moretti's new book, The Vanishing Year .

Zoe Whittaker appears to have it all. At one point in her life she didn't even have enough money to give her mother a proper burial, and when she first arrived in New York, she was living in a homeless shelter. But now she is married to Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker, who indulges her every whim and surprises her with romantic trips and gifts, and she is helping make a difference with her charity involvement. It's a far cry from the purple-haired, multiple-pierced floral apprentice she was when she met Henry.

While her life was vastly different back then, no one really knows how different. No one really knows that Zoe wasn't always Zoe, and that she was involved in things which put her life in significant danger. She had no choice but to flee that life, that existence, even if it meant saying goodbye to good memories as well as frightening ones.

Without warning, Zoe's past seems to have found her. While there are parts of her past she'd like to understand, there are many parts she hoped she'd escaped for good. She can't tell Henry, whose moods are growing increasingly mercurial. She doesn't know whom to trust, where to turn, or what to do. And the danger seems to be growing dangerously closer and closer.

I thought this book had tremendous potential, even if we've seen this type of plot before, the woman-who-isn't-who-you-think-she-is, the damsel-who-used-be-in-distress-and-is-again. Moretti kept me guessing for a while just how the story would unfold, and I kept trying to figure out which character would end up being the one (or ones) who betrayed Zoe. I just found the story took far too long to build up steam, there were red herrings that were sprinkled throughout the plot unnecessarily, and in the end, I was disappointed.

I am a really tough critic of this genre of fiction because I read a lot of it, so I either like to be surprised or I like to be impressed with the author's execution of the plot even if it unfolds as I've expected it might. That's a tall order, so I would encourage you to pick up The Vanishing Year if it sounds intriguing to you. Hopefully if you're not as demanding as I am, you'll find it a suspenseful and more enjoyable read than I did.

NetGalley and Atria Books provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
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Reading Progress

April 20, 2016 – Started Reading
April 22, 2016 – Finished Reading
April 23, 2016 – Shelved
April 23, 2016 – Shelved as: netgalley

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)

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message 1: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Super fly review, Larry! Always delighted to read your thoughts. I used to read a good many mystery thrillers, but I grew weary of the and old plot(s) seemingly spun and re-spun, except with different characters and locales plugged in. It's good to know it's not just me who has found this to be true. Like you, it takes a lot to WoW me now.


message 2: by Pamela (new)

Pamela ^ ”weary of the same old plots... " Thank you smartphone. Teehee


Larry H Thanks, Pamela!! Agreed completely...but I still keep reading 'em because I know I'll get surprised from time to time!!


message 4: by Jaidee (new)

Jaidee Haha Little Mr. Harsh (you are not...at all).

I never seem to be able to solve any mysteries....you should give a class maybe ;)


Larry H Haha Jaidee. I guess I just suspect everyone...when you do that you're nearly always right, unless it comes from out of left field completely! :)


message 6: by Christine (new)

Christine I am torn on this one, Larry. Your review is very well said!


Larry H Thanks, Christine!!


message 8: by Helen (new)

Helen Nice review ,I also read a lot of this genre which gets I find always on average five or four stars ,an I tend to disagree personally ,and need reviews that are bit more critical as some of the books in this genre are lazy ,an not all that good but follow a set formula so thanks for a realistic review


Larry H Helen wrote: "Nice review ,I also read a lot of this genre which gets I find always on average five or four stars ,an I tend to disagree personally ,and need reviews that are bit more critical as some of the boo..."

Thanks so much, Helen!


Donna Davis You talked me out of requesting this DRC. Do you have a list of mystery/crime fic/thriller deal breakers? I avoid, whenever I can see it coming, a mystery that involves someone trying to solve a crime because they are being framed and must clear their name (*groan*); they or someone near and dear to them is being forced into the trunk of a car or other vehicle (**groan**); someone they care about has been kidnapped or is being threatened with terrible violence and ruination if protagonist can't solve the crime (***groan***). In general I also tend to run fast and hard from any story involving alcoholism--which although it's very real, not unlike diarrhea, I don't necessarily want to read all about it--and suicide stories, which are almost guaranteed to make the entire reading audience feel dark also. Author GM Ford said recently that he has his own list, so I wondered if you have one too.


Larry H Donna wrote: "You talked me out of requesting this DRC. Do you have a list of mystery/crime fic/thriller deal breakers? I avoid, whenever I can see it coming, a mystery that involves someone trying to solve a cr..."

Lol, Donna! I'm not a fan of books where the villain is omnipotent and always one step ahead of the victims--they're always eavesdropping on conversations or witnessing something they shouldn't. I hate most books when the author gives you about 50 possible villains and then takes the easiest way out. (Girl on the Train, cough, cough.) And I loathe stories motivated by revenge but which are actually incorrect, and the person blames someone else for their misery than the actual person responsible.


message 12: by Frances (new)

Frances Horgan Where is your list of good books?


Larry H Frances wrote: "Where is your list of good books?"

What kind of books? You can probably sort my reviews by those which are 5-star. I also do a list of my favorite books from each year on my blog (http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo...), if you find the post in January of each year.


jendlo I guess I'm demanding, too, as I felt the same.


Larry H jendlo wrote: "I guess I'm demanding, too, as I felt the same."

Demanding isn't such a bad thing!!


message 16: by Donna (last edited Oct 17, 2016 11:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Donna Davis Larry, I wound up reading it after all, having forgotten that I didn't want it, and I was so impressed by the first half. I thought we were going down a Virginia Woolf kind of path, and looking at extreme ends of income and privilege--from sometimes-a-hooker to richest-woman-in-town, and then examining at what point is the control and abuse by her husband bad enough to break free, either take a juicy divorce settlement or even just run. When is the money no longer enough to make up for the personal degradation?

It could have gone that way and still been a mystery, and so I was so sad and disappointed (you did warn me, as I remembered at about 75%) at what she did with the end.

That said, this is a debut novel, and so perhaps the future will see improvement.


Larry H Donna wrote: "Larry, I wound up reading it after all, having forgotten that I didn't want it, and I was so impressed by the first half. I thought we were going down a Virginia Woolf kind of path, and looking at ..."

Donna, I couldn't agree with you more. I felt as if the first half of this novel had so much potential but then it went down too predictable a path.


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