cover image The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir

The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir

Cylin Busby, John Busby, . . Bloomsbury, $16.99 (329pp) ISBN 978-1-59990-141-1

No one with even a marginal interest in true crime writing should miss this page-turner, by turns shocking and almost unbearably sad. In 1979, in an underworld-style hit, a gunman shot John Busby, a policeman in Cape Cod; a fluke saved John's life, but he was permanently disfigured and disabled, and the family placed under 24-hour protection. Eventually the family went into hiding in Tennessee, but arguably their “disappearance” takes place long before they move—as John and his daughter, Cylin, alternately narrate, readers can see how the shooting erased the family's sense of themselves. John is consumed with anger at the police's refusal to pursue the likeliest suspects (“and [I] planned to stay angry until I got back at the bastards who did this to me”); Cylin, then nine, is baffled as she and her two older brothers attract unwelcome attention (“Everyone thinks your dad is going to die,” a cousin tells her. “But you're lucky—you don't have to go to school”) and are later forsaken as classmates' parents deem friendship with them too risky. Where John's chapters provide the grim facts, it is Cylin's authentically childlike perspective that, in revealing the cost to her innocence, renders the tragic experience most searingly. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)