Monday, November 15, 2010

"Still Missing" by Chevy Stevens

Annie O'Sullivan has nearly finished an open house (she's a realtor) when the last arrival kidnaps her at gunpoint. She's taken to a cabin in the woods, where she is abused, raped and humiliated on a near-daily basis for a year, before she manages to escape. The investigation into who kidnapped her and why reveals further secrets that shake up Annie's already-quite-shaken world. Her abduction, escape and the investigation is detailed in sessions with a therapist.

These days, books often like to skip between points of view. Some chapters will be in first person, other chapters will be in third person etc etc. One thing "Still Missing" has going for it is the consistency of the writing style. The entire story is laid out through Annie's visits to her shrink. Everything is seen through Annie's eyes. We get to know Annie quite well, and she's a believably-drawn character.

While undeniably an involving read - I got through it almost in a single sitting - it is not the masterpiece the publishers, other authors and Amazon readers would have you believe. The point of view - one of the book's plusses - is also its biggest drawback. Since Annie is having these sessions with a shrink, we know from the get-go that she escapes her captor. We read on to see how she manages it, but there's not a lot of suspense when you're waiting for something you know already is going to happen. Instead, the book becomes more of an endurance test as Annie is repeatedly raped, physically and emotionally abused, and physically and psychologically tortured. I found myself hoping she'd escape simply because I was tired of reading about the sickening things being done to her. I can handle nasty material in a book, but it seemed somewhat pointless and redundant because we already know the outcome.

"Still Missing" then caps itself off with an out-of-place romantic hook-up and arbitrary plot twist regarding the who-why-what of the kidnapping. It's almost as if Stevens felt the story should have some kind of twist to it and randomly chose one. It doesn't ruin the story per se, but it really could have been anybody, for whatever reason.

Not for those with weak stomachs or sensibilities (or even those with strong stomachs and sensibilities, in my case), "Still Missing" is well-written and draws you in, but the end doesn't justify the means.

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