In my hierarchy of reading matter, most adult mysteries don't
fare much better than the bodice rippers I hate, abhor, loathe,
detest... Notable exceptions are the legal based works of Jodi
Picoult. Katie and I are big time fans of hers. So when I wanted a
fun book to curl up with I borrowed Katie's copy of Vanishing Acts.
Delia, a search and rescue professional who works with her
trained bloodhound to locate missing people, is about to marry the
high school boyfriend who is the father of her young daughter. Other
than a few confusing fragments of memories, her life seems right on
track. That is until police officers arrive to arrest her beloved
father, Andrew, as a fugitive of justice in connection with a decades
old kidnapping. Sure that he's innocent, Delia is shocked when he
won't deny the charge, even more shocked to learn that she was the
Eric, Delia's fiancée, becomes Andrew's lawyer. Unable to prove
that Andrew did not commit the crime, he must establish that his
client sensed his child to be in so much danger from her mother that
he had no recourse other than to flee with her. It turns out that
Andrew's still alive ex wife, Elise, had a big time problem with the
bottle. This hits pretty close to home for Eric, a recovering
The intricate story is told in turn by the various adult main
characters. You alternately see the perspectives of Delia, Andrew,
Eric, Fitz, a journalist friend of Delia and Eric who wishes he was
the one marrying Delia, and Elise who has the bittersweet experience
of being reunited with the adult daughter she last saw as a blankie
toting preschooler. Even as you become familiar with the complexities
of their lives, Andrew's trial looms larger. You know at the end of
the book the verdict will be delivered.
What I like best about Vanishing Acts is that quality that, in
my opinion, lifts all Picoult's books above the run of the mill adult
mystery. Her characters are not good or bad guys. Andrew kidnaps his
child to rescue her. Elise is both victim and dangerously negligent
parent. Concise, a drug dealer Andrew meets in prison, is conducting
illegal activities to set money aside so his very young son will grow
up with an option other than being jumped into a gang.
Delia, whose beloved daughter, Sophie is close to her age when
she ceased being Bethany and was taken thousands of miles from home,
embodies conflicting perspectives. She knows she would flee with
Sophie to protect her from danger. She also knows that if Sophie was
taken from her she would go to the ends of the earth to get her back.
So here's the bottom line. If you want a complex read with a
gripping plot and believable characters and none of the gratuitous sex
and violence that mar so much of adult literature, check out Vanishing
Acts or any of Jodi Pucoult's fine novels. They're sort of like Lay's
potato chips. You won't be able to read just one.
On a personal note, I hope my readers had a great Valentine's Day. I
surely did. Eugene gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers two days
early. Then on Valentine's Day, returning from an overnight snow
he surprised me with a box of chocolates and a really cute card. My
son was to home. Amber and Brian paid a surprise visit. And Joey cat
was the epitome of feline affection.
A great big shout out goes out to all our blizzard battlers who clear
our streets and other public spaces and then have to find somewhere to
put all that snow.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod