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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: The Disappearance of Grace by Vincent Zandri

Title: The Disappearance of Grace
Author: Vincent Zandri
Publication: September 11, 2012
Publisher: StoneHouse Ink.
Source: Publisher
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Audience: 17 and up
Rating: 5 of 5

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Synopsis: 
Now you see her. Now you don’t...

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.

My Thoughts: 
Nick Angel is suffering from PTSD related blindness. He his struggling with the decisions he made and how he is forever affected by them. Nick is trying to regain his sight, permanently, when Grace disappears. Nick is the obvious suspect and at times I was questioning his sanity. Nick fights to get the local police to follow the lead of the mysterious man. Through Grace's disappearance Nick is forced to face his demons. Doing so may lead him to Grace and his sight. 

Grace is a tough cookie. She wants what's best for Nick and she doesn't allow him to use his vision loss as an excuse. It's easy to tell that she is in it for the long haul and truly loves Nick, despite her indiscretion. 

After reading the first sentence I knew I was going to love this read. I was not anticipating this read to be heart wrenching. The flashbacks brought great insight to Nick's internal struggle and the strength of his and Grace's love for each other. They also left me emotional and raw.  



Read an Excerpt
The wind picks up off the basin.
It seems to seep right through my leather coat into flesh, skin and bone. I try and hold my face up to the sun while the waiter takes our orders. Grace orders a single glass of vino russo and a pancetta and cheese panini. I forgo the Valpolicella and order a Moretti beer and a simple spaghetti pomadoro. The waiter thanks us and I listen to him leaving us for now.

We sit in the calm of the early afternoon, the sounds of the boat traffic coming and going on the basin filling my ears. People surround us on all sides. Tourists who have come to San Marco for the first time and who’ve become mesmerized by it all. I don’t have to physically see them to know how they feel. The stone square, the Cathedral, the bell tower, the many shops and high- end eateries that occupy the wide, square-shaped perimeter. The pigeons. The people. Always the throngs of people coming and going amidst a chorus of bells, bellowing voices, live music emerging from trumpets, violins, and guitars, and an energetic buzz that seems to radiate up from underneath all that stone and sea-soaked soil.

It’s early November.

Here’s what I know about Venice: In just a few week’s’ time, the rains will come and this square will be underwater. The ever sinking Venice floods easily now. The only way to walk the square will be over hastily constructed platforms made from cobbled narrow planks. Many of the tourists will stay away and the live music will be silenced. But somehow, that’s when Venice will come alive more than ever. When the stone is bathed in water.

The waiter brings our drinks and food.
With the aroma of the hot spaghetti filling my senses, I dig in and spoon up a mouthful. I wash the hot, tangy sauce-covered pasta down with a swallow of red wine.

“Whoa, slow down, chief,” Grace giggles.

“Eating, smiling, making love to me. What’s next? Writing?”

“Don’t press your luck, Gracie,” I say. “The sea change can occur at any moment. Just don’t start asking me to identify engagement rings.”

She laughs genuinely and I listen to the sounds of her taking a bite out of her sandwich. But then she goes quiet again. Too quiet, as if she’s stopped breathing altogether.

“There’s someone staring at us,” she says under her breath.

“Man or woman?” I say, trying to position my gaze directly across the table at her, but making out nothing more than her black silhouette framed against the brightness of the sun. Later on, when the sun goes down, the image of her will be entirely black. Like the blackness of the Afghan Tajik country when the fires are put out and you lie very still inside your tent without the benefit of electronic night vision, and you feel the beating of your never- still heart and you pray for morning.

“Man,” she whispers.

“What’s he look like?”

“It’s him again. The man in the overcoat who was staring at us yesterday.”

A start in my heart. I put my fork down inside my bowl. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. I think. He’s wearing sunglasses this time. So,. I think it’s him.”

“What’s he look like?”

“He’s a thin man. Not tall. Not short. He’s got a dark complexion.”

“Black?”

“No. More like Asian or Middle Eastern. He’s wearing sunglasses and that same brown overcoat and a scarf. His hair is black and cut close to his scalp. His beard is very trim and cropped close to his face.” She exhales. I hear her take a quick, nervous sip of her wine. “He keeps staring at us. At me. Just like yesterday, Nick.”

“How do you know he’s staring at you? It could be something behind you, Grace. We’re in Venice. Lots going on behind you. Lots to see.”

She’s stirring in her chair. Agitated.
“Because I can feel him. His eyes…I. Feel. His. Eyes.”

I wipe my mouth clean with the cloth napkin. I do something entirely silly. I turn around in my chair to get a look at the man. As if I have the ability to see him right now, which I most definitely do not.

“What are you doing?” Grace poses, the anxiety in her voice growing more intense with each passing second.

“Trying to get a look at him.”

“You’re joking, Nick.”

I turn back, try and focus on her.

“You think?”

We sit silent.
Once more I am helpless and impotent.

“I’m sorry,” she says after a time. “I’m not trying to insult you. This isn’t like yesterday with the ring. But this man is at the same café we’re at two days in a row? This is really starting to creep me out, babe.”

My pulse begins to pump inside my head. Not rapid, but just enough for me to notice. Two steady drum beats against my temples. I find myself wanting to swallow, but my mouth has gone dry. I take a sip of beer thinking it will help.

“He’s coming towards us, Nick. I don’t like it.”

Heart beat picks up. I feel it pounding inside my head and my chest.

“Are you sure he’s coming towards us, Grace?” I’m trying not to raise my voice, but it’s next to impossible.

“He’s looking right at me. His hands are stuffed in the pockets of his overcoat. And he’s coming.”

I feel and hear Grace pulling away from the table. She’s standing. That’s when the smell of incense sweeps over me. A rich, organic, incense-like smell.

There comes the sound of Grace standing. Abruptly standing. I hear her metal chair push out. I hear the sound of her boot heels on the cobbles. I hear the chair legs scraping against the stone slate. I hear the sound of her wine glass spilling.

“Grace, for God’s sakes, be careful.”

But she doesn’t respond to me. Or is it possible her voice is drowned out by what sounds like a tour group passing by the table? A tour group of Japanese speaking people. But once they pass, there is nothing. No sound at all other than the boats on the basin and the constant murmur of the thousands of tourists that fill this ancient square.

“Grace,” I say. “Grace. Stop it. This isn’t funny. Grace.”

But there’s still no response.
The smell of incense is gone now.
I make out the gulls flying over the tables, the birds shooting in from the basin to pick up scraps of food and then, like thieves in the night, shooting back out over the water. I can hear and feel the sound-wave driven music that reverberates against the stone cathedral.

“Grace,” I repeat, voice louder now. “Grace. Grace…Grace!”

I’m getting no response.

It’s like she’s gone. Vanished. But how can she be gone? She was just sitting here with me. She was sitting directly across from me, eating a sandwich and drinking a glass of wine. She was talking with me.
The waiter approaches.

“The signora is not liking her food?” he questions.

I reach out across the table. In the place where she was sitting. She is definitely not there.

“Is there a toilet close by?” I pose. “Did you see my fiancée leave the table and go to the toilet?”

The waiter pauses for a moment.

“I am sorry. But I did not. I was inside the café.”

“Then maybe somebody else saw her. Maybe you can ask them.”

“Signor, there are many tables in this café and they are all filled with people. And there are many people who walk amongst the tables who can block their view. I am looking at them. No one seems to be concerned about anything. Sometimes there are so many people here, it is easy to get lost. Perhaps she just went to the toilet like you just suggested, and she got lost amongst the people. I will come back in moment and make sure all is well.”

I listen to the waiter leaving, his footsteps fading against the slate.
Grace didn’t say anything about going to the toilet or anywhere else. Grace was frightened. She was frightened of a man who was staring at her. A man with sunglasses on and a cropped beard and a long brown overcoat. He was the man from yesterday. The man with black eyes. He was approaching us, this man. He came to our table and he smelled strongly of incense. He came to our table. There was a slight commotion, the spilling of a glass, the knocking over of a chair, and then Grace was gone.

I sit and stare at nothing. My heart is pounding so fast I think it will cease at any moment. What I have in the place of vision is a blank wall of blurry illumination no longer filled with the silhouette of my Grace.

I push out my chair. Stand. My legs knock into the table and my glass spills along with Grace’s.

I cup my hands around my mouth.

“Grace!” I shout. “Grace! Grace!”

The people who surround me all grow quiet as I scream over them.

The waiter comes running back over.

“Please, please,” he says to me, taking me by the arm. “Please come with me.”

He begins leading me through the throng of tables and people. He is what I have now in the place of Grace. He is my sight.

“She’s gone, isn’t she?” I beg. “Did you check the toilets?”

“We checked the toilets. They are empty. I am sorry. I am sure there is an explanation.”

“Grace is gone!” I shout. “A man took her away. How could no one have seen it?”

“You’re frightening the patrons, signor. Please just come with me and we will try and find her.”

“She’s gone,” I repeat. “Don’t you understand me? My. Grace. Is. Gone.”

Author Bio:
Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon author of THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT FALLS, CONCRETE PEARL, MOONLIGHT RISES, SCREAM CATCHER, BLUE MOONLIGHT and MURDER BY MOONLIGHT. He is also the author of the Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL, TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA. Harlan Coben has described THE INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as "...gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting," while the New York Post called it "Sensational...Masterful...Brilliant!" Zandri's list of publishers include Delacorte, Dell, StoneHouse Ink, StoneGate Ink and Thomas & Mercer. 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. For more go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM


*This book was provided by the author and/or publisher for Partners In Crime Tours in exchange for an honest review

9 comments:

  1. Great review and post. I agree with you. I also questioned Nick's "sanity". I could not put this book down!

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  2. Thanks so much for reviewing!
    Cheers,
    Vince

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  3. An absolutely wonderful review!! I want to read this now, too!

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  4. Thanks for your thoughts and the excerpt!

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  5. Thanks for the review and the excerpt!

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  6. I enjoyed it.

    http://www.teenaintoronto.com/2012/12/book-disappearance-of-grace-2012.html

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  7. This is the type of book that I don't think I would ever pick up on my own, but it is the type that I always end up thinking I would love after reading reviews. This sounds like an emotional ride, and while I can't do it all of the time, there are times when that is what I want.

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  8. You pick the saddest books, how could you not know that it would be heart-wrenching?;) Sounds like a really good book though. I may read it to see how Grace treats Nick. Even though my fiancee is not totally blind or fought in a war, he tends to use his horrible eyesight as a crutch at times. I tend to not let him use that excuse with me, but I'm sure he uses it on others. Thanks for the excerpt and review!

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  9. Thanks for the reveiw and excerpt! I haven't heard of this book or author, but sounds like an interesting and good read! I'll definately check it out!

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