Reviewed by Allen Hott
Starting with a half -naked woman running across the highway up in the hills of California which almost causes an old man to run off the mountain. It turns out that the girl and her boyfriend were abducted and carried up into the woods by an unknown kidnapper. Oh, wait a minute. That is just what is thought at first and that is what brings Alex Delaware, the psychologist, into the story.
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But as you read further you find out that kidnapping didn’t really happen as Alex finds out. Rather it was two hopeful actors acting out a situation and hoping to gain some notoriety by doing so. They are part of a acting school run by a rich young lady, Nora, who along with her two brothers, Brad and Billy, appear to have more money than anyone can need. However Billy is somewhat mentally retarded and as the story goes forward it appears the other brother, Brad, (who is actually a cousin but adopted into the family) is living very “high on the hog” while taking care of the slower one and minding the school’s finances.
Also though as Alex discovers while working with Milo Sturgis, the LA detective who he usually partners with, there are a lot of other things going on in this drama loving family. And as they get deeper into it there appears to be someone who is rather slowly but also almost methodically causing folks who have somehow been involved in the acting school to disappear.
It is a very difficult thing for Alex and Milo to sort through and it also becomes quite a twisted and long playing story for the average reader. Much of the time the story is actually unfolding in conversations around lunches, dinners, or drinks with Alex and Milo.
Shortly after the first two students pulled off their caper Michaela, the girl, does in fact turn up dead and Dylan, the boy, is nowhere to be found. Alex and Milo feel certain that there is some connection between that acting school and the latest murder and missing person. But as they stumble and fumble and talk about all the who- did- whats or what ifs that might have occurred several other missing persons also turn up. Oh yes these folks are definitely connected in one way or another to either the acting school or at least to Nora or maybe Brad or maybe Billy.
Yes it is quite a story that goes round and round. Strangely enough even though it is somewhat long and filled with much almost un-needed chatter between Milo and Alex it is an interesting read. The final chapters are almost completely unbelievable but not if you were paying close attention and not listening to all the chatter!
Kellerman has a way of building and building and then somehow coming out of it with a rather simplistic ending. Although in this one the ending is simple but stunning! Read it to find out what is really Gone!