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A spellbinding mystery of obsession and guilt, this is also the poignant story of what happens to those left behind when a child vanishes without trace.
It is the summer of 1968, the day Senator Robert Kennedy is shot. Two nine-year-old girls are playing hide and seek in the ruins of a deserted village. Alice has discovered a secret about Eleanor Ramsay's mother, and is taunting the other girl. When it is Eleanor's turn to hide, Alice disappears.
Years later, an extraordinary turn of events opens up shocking truths for the Ramsay family and all who knew the missing girl.
A Kind of Vanishing was awarded the inaugural People's Book Prize for Fiction in 2010. This new national prize, supported by the Publishers' Association, was the brain-child of late Dame Beryl Bainbridge who set it up as showcase for new talent in the UK. The prize is judged by the readers themselves, the general public.
This gripping and well written thriller was first published in 2007 and now makes a welcome reappearance from Myriad Editions. I reviewed it on its first publication – and on its second reading am no less impressed by it. More if anything. The strength of the writing and the author’s brilliant evocation of how a child mind works combine to terrifying effect.
Lesley Thomson has a masterly control of detail, piling one upon another until the location, characters and their family lives are startlingly vivid. A novel one cannot forget – and I never have. Next please!
Thomson skilfully evokes the era and the slow-moving quality of childhood summers, suggesting the menace lurking just beyond the vision of her young protagonists. A study of memory and guilt with several twists.
A thoughtful, well-observed story about families and relationships and what happens to both when a tragedy occurs. It reminded me of Kate Atkinson. Thomson is particularly good at capturing the minutiae of childhood as well as the secrets, the lies, the make believe, the jealousies and spitefulness, the confusion and wonder of being nine years old.
Lesley Thomson’s engaging writing style skilfully explores the obsession and the sense of guilt, hope and despair, trust and mistrust that will fill the lives of all the people who once knew the girl who disappeared. A masterful exploration of human feelings that is paired with an equally masterful description of the settings that form the background to this gripping story.
Full of unexpected twists, this is a crime story that will leave you wondering until the end whether a crime has, in fact, been committed at all.
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Such is the vividness of the descriptions of the location in this well structured and well written novel that I want to get the next train down...just when one thinks one can guess where it is leading, it switches, and the conclusion is a tense and gripping one. On the edge of my seat? No way - I was cowering under it.
Skilfully lays the foundations in the earlier chapters for what is to come. Each layer of the plot is carefully interwoven with the thoughts, wishes and desires of the main characters. Years pass culminating in the explosion of a shocking truth. If you enjoy a good thriller with more twists and turns than a cork screw, I recommend it.
Complex, disturbing and surprising...the sort of book where you simply have to completely rethink what you thought was going to happen - before sleeping with the lights on.
The characterisation is particularly excellent...A sensitively written story, evocatively described, this is also an unusual thriller in that it easily bears a second reading.
A beautifully written story, the characters and characterisation are thoughtful and believable. A book to read curled up in an armchair not on a sun lounger by the pool. I recommend it.
This is a completely gripping book, both as a psycho-social study and as psychological thriller.
There is a touch of Susan Hill or Ruth Rendell in her (Barbara Vine) gothic mode here. Very well written.
Out now: A Kind of Vanishing audiobook
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In Camera: Lesley Thomson talks about the use of photography in her writing
With poet and novelist Robert Dickinson at Brighton Festival's The Dog House reading event