Tag Archives: Mystery fiction

Book Review: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell

This story goes back and forth between 1930s & present day Edinburgh. In the 1930s, Esme Lennox is sent away to a mental institution on account of her hysteria. Forward to present day Edinburgh where her great-niece is called upon to collect her previously unknown, great-aunt from the same instutition, which is now shutting down. This leaves her niece trying to piece together the puzzle of how she came to live in a mental institution for 60 years. It has the typical O’Farrell style of weaving together two stories from different generations. O’Farrell gives away pieces of information throughout, interweaving past and present until everything comes together in the end, with a signature twist. Set in Scotland, the backdrop adds to the mysteries that continue to unfold throughout the book. It is one of those books that only loosly ties the knot at the end, leaving it up to the reader to fill in some of the blanks. It is quite a short and easy read; it does not even have any chapters. Something that would be good for a week-end beach trip, or a long flight. Although it does not compete with The Hand that First Held Mine, it is an easy-read, quirky novel that leaves you wondering.

Vanishing Act

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Book Review: Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar

This is a beautiful novel that flows between Egypt and Europe, written with lyrical prose. Matar is a phenomenal writer who manages to describe profound emotions in little words. It is the story of a young boy, Nouri who loses his mother at a young age. He soon meets Mona, on a beach in Alexandria while alone on holiday with his father. Mona, who is later to become his step mother, is a young and mesmerizing woman, who he feels extremely drawn to. However, after his father, a respectable and influential man in Egypt gets kidnapped while on business in Switzerland, he and Mona are left to piece together this sudden disappearance, changing their relationship forever. However, this is not a mystery novel, albeit the air of mystery is prevalent throughout. It is a journey the reader goes through with Nouri, exploring relationships, the meaning of loyalty, and ultimately life. It is a story filled with emotion.  Each character is so compelling, it is hard not to be drawn into this novel. Consumed with innocence, love and the unveiling of secrets. Matar, who was nominated for the Man Booker Prize for his novel, In the Country of Men, is an extremely impressive writer who does not disappoint in this magical piece of fiction.

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