6/21/2003 
INQUIRER ON "MOMENT"  
"EVAN HUNTER's latest novel, The Moment She Was Gone, is an absorbing familial mystery and another superb read." 
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

The Moment She Was Gone
by Evan Hunter

Reviewed by Martha Woodall

   However you catalog his work, Evan Hunter has
produced a prodigious amount.  Writing under his own
name, Hunter is the author of 20 novels, including his
widely praised 1954 debut, The Blackboard Jungle. He
has turned out screenplays, children's books and
collections of short stories. And using the pen name of
Ed McBain, Hunter has created the popular 87th
Precinct fiction series.

   His latest novel, The Moment She Was Gone, is an
absorbing familial mystery and another superb read.  
While there is no crime to solve, the reader is pulled
along on a journey to uncover clues to painful truths
about a family - clues missed or ignored by its own
members.

   The novel takes place during a single, intense period
of less than 24 hours as a 36-year-old teacher named
Andy Gulliver, his mother Helene, brother Aaron, and
Aaron's wife search for Andy's twin sister Annie, who
has vanished from her mother's apartment in
Manhattan.

   Andy narrates the tale and, through a series of
flashbacks, reveals this is not the first time his
mercurial sister has run away. She has bolted other
times
only to surface in such faraway places as Sweden,
India, and Papua, New Guinea.

   It was during her extensive travels that Annie says she
was initiated into a form of Tantric yoga and learned to
make sexually explicit jewelry that no one will buy.

   "My sister has been in trouble since she was sixteen,
I can't pretend she hasn't," Andy says. "Annie has been
the central concern in our lives for the past eternity now.
Or perhaps longer."

   But there is growing concern that all is not right with
Andy's twin.  There was a recent incident in Sicily when
Annie may or may not have been raped but was
admitted to a mental hospital. And several years earlier,
when she was part of a touring garage band, Annie had
a strange episode outside a firehouse in Georgia that
involved a couple of state highway patrolmen.

   In describing his sister's penchant for altering tales
about her exotic travels, Andy observes: "I sometimes
think my sister wrote the screenplay for Rashomon."
But as Hunter masterfully peels back the past, layer by
layer, it becomes apparent that Andy has been so
blinded by his protective love for his sister that he is not
a reliable narrator.

   Hunter examines the special bonds of love and
responsibility conferred by twinship and shows how
they can undermine relationships with others. "Always
The Twins," Andy observes. "An entity. Annie and I."

   Of course, Andy is desperate to find his sister and
shepherd her to a safe place.

   "I try to piece together the shattered fragments, the
minuscule bits of mosaic that together form Annie's
past," Andy says. "Is there something that will lead me
to where she is now?  But she has never left a trail
before."

   Hunter recounts Andy's quest for his sister in crisp,
vivid prose. The tale of the dawning truths about this
troubled, colorful and utterly believable family is moving.

   The Moment She Was Gone is so compelling that
after I finished it, I realized with a start that I had
stopped taking notes after the first few pages. That was
unusual, but it gave me a good excuse to reread the
novel and savor it again.

-- Martha Woodall

Copyright 2002 The Philadelphia Inquirer
All Rights Reserved
The Philadelphia Inquirer



 

 
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