Ever since Willy Buchanan first saw Janine Smith back in high school, their wholesome, banal life together seemed like an impossible dream, and now that they've dropped out of college and gotten engaged, it's abruptly turned into a nightmare: Janine has vanished from their Hudson Valley hamlet—gone to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, as a little bit of detective work by a policeman also smitten with her shows. And the college friend she'd secretly taken off to visit, Susie Conover, is also missing, feared a victim of whoever raped and murdered bar-hopping Francie Heer just a few days earlier. Finding a trove of Janine's old diaries tells Willy more about her than he'd like to know, but not enough to make him turn away from her, and in the ten years it takes for him to learn the truth about her disappearance—beginning with the discovery of Susie's body and Janine's bloodstained sweater, and climaxing with the arrest of the drifter accused of killing her—he burrows deeper and deeper into his grief and despair. Tobin's grasp of the characters is so sure that the suspense doesn't let up even when we find out what happened to Janine back in 1973. Nothing in Tobin's lightweight first novel The Ransom (1991) could have prepared you for this somber, moving tale—a must for movie fans who liked The Vanishing or thought it didn't get far enough into its tiny, haunted cast.
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