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|THE MOMENT SHE WAS GONE|| |
|ADVANCE REVIEWS|| |
The indefatigable Hunter, last seen teaming up with his
own alter ego Ed McBain (Candyland, 2001), returns
solo in this tale of a twin sister gone missing-and more
Annie Gulliver's been through a lot. Her parents' volatile
marriage split up when she was only five; her
mistrustful teenaged brother Andy, on a grand tour of
Scandinavia with her and their no-nonsense mother
Helen, trailed her to make sure her Stockholm crush
Sven didn't try anything, well, Swedish; she's picked up
malaria in Papua New Guinea and unwelcome
attention during her garage band's tour of redneck
country. And she's put her family through a lot too,
crashing in Andy and his bookseller wife Maggie's tiny
apartment and waking them with her tantric mantras,
sponging off Helene when her X-rated jewelry designs
don't sell, attacking Maggie with a hammer in a fit of
pique, abusing everyone who tries to help her.
Now that she's walked out still again, Andy has to face
the possibility that there's something wrong with Annie
beyond her misadventures-something wrong with her
tales of misadventures themselves.
What if she never was in Tiananmen Square, the FBI
isn't following her, the best friend who's paying her
HMO bills doesn't exist, she wasn't raped by four
villagers during her recent trip to Sicily, and the
psychiatrist there who packed her back to America in
Andy's custody was right when he said she was
What if Annie's problems come from inside her-or from
the family that's tried so hard to love and protect her?
And what if Andy's really known this all along?
Hunter shrewdly balances sitcom domestic scrapes
and japes with genre-issue melodramatics: a
dysfunctional family portrait that'ssharper and deeper
than either formula would allow on its own.
It's an axiom of fiction as well as real life that a phone
that rings in the middle of the night rarely portends
good tidings. For Andy Gulliver, the protagonist of Evan
Hunter's gripping new novel, it usually means that his
peripatetic twin sister, Annie, is gone again, along with
her tenuous hold on reality.
Annie has been disappearing with no warning and
reappearing just as unexpectedly ever since her
adolescence, when she ran off to Sweden to find her
first love, a boy she met on an earlier trip abroad with
However, the real, if unconscious, object of her search,
as Hunter makes clear, is the father who abandoned
the Gullivers years before. Annie's occasional
postcards and letters from places as far-flung as Nepal
and New Guinea offer just enough reassurance to
enable Andy and their mother to maintain the illusion
that there's nothing really wrong with her.
Annie's increasing mental deterioration, like her
family's implacable denial, is brilliantly depicted, and
drives the narrative to its heavily foreshadowed but still
Hunter, a master of suspense, is the author of 20
novels as well as countless police procedurals and
detective stories, all of which are marked by the
psychological acuity that suffuses this, his latest.