I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann
Published by Berkley on January 14, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
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The Dry meets Silence of the Lambs in this intoxicating tale of literary suspense set in the relentless Alaskan landscape about madness and obsession, loneliness and grief, and the ferocious bonds of family …
It’s 1941 in small-town Alaska and Elisabeth Pfautz is alone. She’s living far from home, struggling through an unhappy marriage, and she spends her days tutoring her precocious young daughter. Elisabeth’s twin sister disappeared without a trace twenty years earlier, and Elisabeth’s life has never recovered. Cryptic visions of her sister haunt her dreams, and Elisabeth’s crushing loneliness grows more intense by the day. But through it all, she clings to one belief: That her sister is still alive, and that they’ll be reunited one day.
And that day may be coming soon. Elisabeth’s world is upended when Alfred Seidel — an enigmatic German bush pilot — arrives in town and murders a local man in cold blood. Sitting in his cell in the wake of his crime, Alfred refuses to speak to anyone except for Elisabeth. He has something to tell her: He knows exactly what happened to her long-missing sister, but he’ll reveal this truth only if Elisabeth fulfills three requests.
Increasingly isolated from her neighbors and imprisoned by the bitter cold and her own obsession, Elisabeth lets herself slip deeper into Alfred’s web. A tenuous friendship forms between them, even as Elisabeth struggles to understand Alfred’s game and what he’s after.
But if it means she’ll get answers, she’s willing to play by his rules. She’s ready to sacrifice whatever it takes to be reunited with her sister, even if it means putting herself — and her family — in mortal danger.
How Quickly She Disappears is the first book I have read by author Raymond Fleischmann. The story is set in the year 1941 in a remote Alaskan town with a population of less than 100. Fleischmann weaves a mystery against the backdrop of the harsh Alaskan wilderness.
Elizabeth Pfautz is unhappily married with an eleven year old daughter whom she homeschools. Their home is attached to a school and Elizabeth’s home is the only place in town with a guest room. So, when a stranger, Alfred Seidel, asks for her hospitality, Elizabeth agrees to let him use the guest room against her better judgement. But, when Alfred kills a local man and friend of Elizabeth’s, things take a turn for the worst when Alfred claims to know what happened to Elizabeth’s sister’s disappearance twenty years ago. A sort of cat and mouse game ensues, but will it bring Elizabeth any closer to finding out the truth about her sister?
When I first started reading the first couple of chapters I was unsure how I felt about the story and was unsure if it was even for me, but I kept on and wanted to give it a chance. In a way, I am glad that I did. Fleischmann brings the wilds of Alaska to life in his beautifully descriptive writing which really paints the scene for the course of this story. After around the fifty page mark and the death of a local man, the story really started to take off for me and I became engrossed in the mystery of Elizabeth’s sister and what may have happened to her. I had so many questions needing answers and Alfred’s games with Elizabeth just made him seem creepier and creepier.
The story goes back in forth in timeline between the now and the past when Elizabeth and her sister were on the cusp of being teenagers. I really liked how are able to see what happened in the past and sort of come to our own ideas on what may have happened. I also love how there was never any confusion as to the timeline and the narrative. The story does build and build to a finale, but at the end I was left a little wanting. I feel like I was left hanging a little bit.
Characterization was really good with Elizabeth being the only narrator. Although, I don’t feel like I ever really warmed up to her and to be honest I think I enjoyed Alfred a little more even if he was creepy. Elizabeth was a bit predictable and made a lot of bad choices throughout the story although she did come into her own and redeem herself towards the end.
All in all, I enjoyed the story and would definitely love to read more from Raymond Fleischmann.