Partners in Crime Tours spoils me rotten and for a second day in a row I get to be part of the tour with my review of Vincent Zandri’s latest, Disappearance of Grace. Again I thank Cheryl over at Partners in Crime Tours for the chance to be able to both interviewand review this tale of mysteryand suspense set in modern time Venice, Italy…
Captain Nick Angel has finally made a separate peace with the war in Afghanistan. Since having been ordered to bomb a Tajik village which resulted in the death of a little boy of no more than two, he’s been suffering from temporary bouts of blindness. Knowing the he needs time to rest and recover from his post traumatic stress, the US Army decides to send him to Venice along with his fiancee, the artist, Grace Blunt. Together they try and recapture their former life together. But when Grace suddenly goes missing, Nick not only finds himself suddenly alone and sightless in the ancient city of water, but also the number one suspect in her disappearance.
A novel that projects Hitchcockian suspense onto a backdrop of love and war, The Disappearance of Grace is a rich, literary thriller of fear, loss, love, and revenge. From the war in the Afghan mountains to the canals of romantic Venice, this is a story that proves 20/20 eyesight might not always be so perfect and seeing is not always believing.
The novel is a nice contribution to the Mystery/Suspense reading pile and because of the authors focus on the story, and not on shock vale, one I would let my 14 year-old read. Though some of the imagery could be disturbing to more sensitive kids this age, most are exposed to it each time they watch the news were even in a more fantastical and carnivalistic manner.
Without having any spoilers, what happens after Grace has been kidnapped, walked away and abandoned him or disappeared into the masses of summer visitors to Venice Italy, we have not only the disappearance of his fiance, Grace, but there is the forced focus on his own grace being lost with the one focal act in Afghanistan, which is the assumed cause of his PTSD related intermittent blindness. As the reader, we are spoon fed more and more of the actual story on the bombing of the village with each wakening and moment his sight returns to him. I kept trying to guess what caused his PTSD. It was obvious because of his repetition of one image, but when we get more and more hints to what was happening before and after the bombing, who was involved the interactions of the soldiers and the village members I was almost wondering if the main horror causing his PTSD was going to end up being a cow. Yes a cow and you will have to read. This is how well Zandri had me going. (hey don’t laugh, read the book and tell me if I am wrong!)
Captain Angel, in his real life beyond being an officer in the Army reserves (I think it is the Army but I tend to think everyone is due to my former life as an Army wife).. anyway in his life before his touring in Afghanistan, he is a well known novelist and his fiance, Grace, painter. Each brings their tools of creation to capture not only the “grace” of their former professional lives back, but to re-capture their life together. It is a beautiful love story. One which when Grace disappears and leaves CPT Angel stumbling blind, forces him to find a way back to living with sight, both outward and within his own psyche. He slowly begins to realize grace comes from within.
A fluid story moving you along at a quick and rhythmic pace. A story device many authors of mystery and suspense novels use and one that the can be seen in many of the stylistic consistencies, recurring theme, the narrowed and focused “view” (or lack thereof) of our narrator and protagonist Captain Nick Angel, and his life without sight. What I found interesting and what prompted me to notice some of these things was the synopsis mentioning the Hitchcokian flavor of suspense. If we are to address the novel from an auteur theory story wise, the above rings true. But I am getting a bit deep and though many of these things can easily be put upon the story I do not want to lose you as a reader so I will wrap my review up with a few main points.
A few things I did not like? The character development of Grace and CPT Angel was so strong and complete the rest of the cast was ignored to much. Supporting characters do not need to be as developed but they were not developed enough, or the right characters were not, meaning the story was a bit unbalanced at times. Perhaps this was another way to keep us as unbalanced as Nick was? But I do not think it was such, I think that I maybe giving to much to what is meant to be a simple contribution to the mystery genre.
Does this mean it is not a good book? Oh definitely not, it is a great book. I liked it. I would not give it a five star rating, I liked it, not loved it. It did not release the kraken crooning, glitter and bacon smothered Goddess within me, but it did make me think and give me pause while reading. I truly enjoyed the cleverness and beauty of this tale. It had an age old feeling, much like the sinking city of Venice. Kind of like a street side painting, not hanging in the Louvre but still worth stopping to pay attention to and purchasing to enjoy even further.
Disappearance of Grace is a fast paced read with many layers which can be read at leisure at a summer rental on the cape, or in the coffee-house on your lunch hour over a week or perhaps hiding from your family over your holidays. It can also be read if you want to do some Fischer Price analytics of the Mystery genre. Which ever you choose I think you will enjoy this tale. I think it would actually make a great Book Club book actually! (since we are talking book clubs too this week here).
I am giving this a 3.75 star. Not quite a 4 star and not even a 3.5 star. So when I go and put this up on Amazon and Goodreads it will be a 4 star but here at the Cabin, it is Allllllllllllllmost there! Which is still a win! I liked it! Definitely not the pants and not quite of the festive nature of the Cabin. It is a read with my tea mid day. Just right.
More Books by Vincent Zandri
In December 2011, he signed a “Very Nice,” eight-book deal with Thomas & Mercer of Amazon Publishing. Zandri’s list of publishers also include Delacorte, Dell, StoneHouse /StoneGate Ink and more. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated into many languages including the Dutch, Russian, and Japanese.
An adventurer and freelance photojournalist, Zandri has been the author of the professional blogs DangerousDispatches & Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT). He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11 and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday,Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine.
An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated into many languages including the Dutch, Russian, and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for RT, Globalspec, IBTimes and more, he lives in Albany, New York