Not everything is as it seems. At least that’s what author Vincent Zandri would have us believe in his latest thriller. With a plot that’s both daring and complex, The Girl Who Wasn’t There (Oceanview), will keep you guessing long after the initial disappearing act.
Lake Placid may not be a European vacation, but to Sidney “Doc” O’Keefe it’s heaven … even if said vacation involves checking in with his parole officer. After being incarcerated for ten years in a maximum-security prison for a murder he didn’t commit, all Sidney wants is some peace and quiet with his wife Penny and daughter Chloe. Unfortunately, his old employer and crime boss, Mickey Rabuffo, won’t let sleeping dogs lie. In fact, Sid more than suspects Rabuffo is responsible for his daughter’s abduction from a beach just steps away from his hotel room. Especially since he had to do more than a little talking to secure his release from prison and return to his family.
Except, as the hours pass, it becomes clear that Sidney himself, with his history of violence both in and out of jail, is the main suspect in the police investigation into Chloe’s disappearance. With nowhere else to turn, Sid and Penny decide to take matters into their own hands. But is it a mistake? Ten years later, can Doc still trust the woman he calls his wife? Or has he led them both down a path too convoluted to ever discover the truth?
Zandri knows the power of a well-executed twist. Just when you think you have it all figured out, he’ll lead you to a fork in the road that will make you question how you got there in the first place. Even if you make a wrong turn, you won’t be able to resist turning the page to see what happens next. It’s smart and cunning in a way that keeps you invested for the long haul.
The story is told from Sid’s point of view. This, paired with Zandri’s quick pacing, heightens both the immediacy of the plot and the reader’s personal connection to the main character. There were times in reading this book that I felt as though I was in a 1950s detective drama, the dialogue inviting me to experience modern themes with an old-school Hollywood flare. The classic noir writing style only adds to the tension.
Sid is a simple character with a complicated life, but he’s consistent, his motivation clear and his commitment to his daughter unwavering. Though his world is anything but black and white, Zandri succeeds in making Sidney redeemable despite what he’s done or the choices he makes. This is certainly no easy task considering Sid’s history, but necessary, and something Zandri delivers with confidence.
Something else this book delivers? Hope. The hope that, no matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been, the opportunity exists to turn our lives around and make them something better than they were before. The road may be long and the journey perilous, but there are some things worth fighting for. And if you can’t make it to your destination today, there’s always tomorrow.
For more on Vincent Zandri, visit his BookTrib author profile page.