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Still Missing: Chevy Stevens

This Review posted by Sam Blake on 7 January 2012.

‘Compulsive page turner’ is a bit of a cliche but boy, does it apply to Chevy Stevens STILL MISSING. I have to confess that when I first picked up the book, thinking Chevy was a male writer, I didn’t really feel he’d captured the female voice. Somehow the narrator was too aggressive, too blunt to be female.

Then I realised that this was actually the voice of a woman so badly damaged by a year of abuse that the voice made perfect sense.

THEN I realised that Chevy Stevens is actually a woman and my double mistake made me admire her talent all the more.

THEN I read the blurb and discovered that this is her first book. Wow. Call me slow, but the moral of this is to read the inside back cover before you start a book!

So what’s it all about?

“On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two-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.

Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent captive in a remote mountain cabin—which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist—is the second narrative recounting the nightmare that follows her escape: her struggle to piece her shattered life back together, the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor, and the disturbing sense that things are far from over.

Still Missing is a shocking, visceral, brutal, and beautifully crafted novel about surviving the unsurvivable—and living to bear witness.”

That summary really doesn’t do justice to the brilliant plotting of STILL MISSING and the absolutely unforeseen twists that make this book unforgettable. The delivery of the narrative to an unseen psychiatrist is so skillfully executed that we never really realise that the psychiatrist doesn’t appear as a character at all until the end of the book. And by the time we get to the end, we are finding out, in what feels like real time,  more about what really happened to her than Annie could have imagined in her worst nightmares. And her nightmares are as bad as they get.

Chevy Stevens handles a complex timeline with the hand of a master, creates characters that you will never forget, locations that you can smell. And she keeps delivering to the very last line where the parting punch will leave you winded. It’s possibly the best last line I’ve ever read.

Published in over 26 countries and already optioned for a movie, the tag line for STILL MISSING is  ‘the truth doesn’t always set you free’. Phew, you’ll see exactly what that means when you read it. This book is a must buy.

Now I’m desperate to get my hands on Chevy Stevens next book, NEVER KNOWING.  This is what some of my favourite writers say about it:

“Block off the weekend, grab a comfy seat and prepare for the rocket ride of your life! Never Knowing will consume you with the desire to read every page, gasp at every twist and know every last secret between one woman and her serial killer father.”

Lisa Gardener, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“NEVER KNOWING is a chilling thriller with enough twists and turns so every time I thought I knew where it was going I was taken somewhere else. I have a feeling that Chevy Stevens is an author who is going to keep getting better and better with each book! I hope I’m still around for the next six — at which point she’ll probably give me a heart attack. But what a great way to go out!”

Lois Duncan, author of I Know What You Did Last Summer.

“A terrifying, chilling scenario that unfolds into a nightmare and had me keeping the light on at night.”

Rosamund Lupton, bestselling author of Sister

I can’t wait, particularly as I’ve interviewed the daughter of a serial killer…