cover image Soon She Will Be Gone

Soon She Will Be Gone

John Farris. Forge, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85375-4

What do you get when you mix a beautiful artist with a dark past, a driven Washington bureaucrat with a vendetta and a wealthy, secretive family with a set of bodyguards straight out of Deliverance? A tepid, disappointing psychological thriller. Six women have disappeared without a trace, including the sister of U.S. deputy attorney general Coleman Dane. All were beautiful, accomplished and physically challenged. And all were romantically involved with wealthy architect Dix Trevellian prior to their disappearances. Dane will stop at nothing to prove that Trevellian murdered them. He'll even blackmail former Army investigator Sharan Norbeth, now a gifted painter with a prosthetic right hand--the result of a case gone terribly wrong. Sharon is the perfect bait for Trevellian and his protective socialite sister, Esther. While the Trevellians seem to be models of culture and class, the closer Sharan gets to them, the more damaging information she reveals about the family--and the greater the danger that surrounds her. Although the Trevellians' sordid family secrets hint at some stunning revelation, the novel's silly, raucous ending falls flat. Farris (Dragonfly; The Fury) does have a knack for pacing and generally believable characters, but he muddies his plot with unnecessary twists and distracting characters like the young Trevellian brother who's a paranoid schizophrenic and Esther's violent, obsessive playwright ex-husband. More diligent editing would have pruned away these messy tangents and helped save a talented novelist from his own worst inclinations. (July)