Zoe Whittaker is living a charmed life. She is the beautiful young wife to handsome, charming Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker. She is a member of Manhattan’s social elite. She is on the board of one of the city’s most prestigious philanthropic organizations. She has a perfect Tribeca penthouse in the city and a gorgeous lake house in the country. The finest wine, the most up-to-date fashion, and the most luxurious vacations are all at her fingertips.
What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her.
As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she – whoever she is – vanishes completely. (Goodreads)
With the success of The Girl on The Train, there has been a noticeable uptick in the number of Thrillers with unreliable female protagonists. The latest one I have read is The Vanishing Year and I have to say that this is one of the better books I have read in the genre.
The twisty turny plot is what really stood out for me, when reading this book as Moretti had this brilliant knack for leading you down this path, only to pull the rug right out from under you in the last few chapters. For most of the book, I was convinced that Zoe’s past was the real threat to her in the present. There was no real hints of the true culprit behind the near misses to her life throughout the book. Managing to pull off this bluff is difficult to do, but Moretti manages to do so with an apparent ease. (Though I am sure she spent many nights sitting up, trying to write this book).
The protagonist having a secret past, is nothing new and many of the regular beats to this genre do occur in the book. From the “reporter” helping the lead, threats from the past and a husband who does not seem to be what he says he is, all occur in this book. The fact I could tick them off in a predicatble fashion, made the twist all that more surprising. It was this false sense of familiarity that helped the final act of the book provide that sucker punch.
As always, a cracking plot is nothing without the characters and I think here is where I found a bit of a mixed bag.
Zoe, the protagonist in the book, takes centre stage and rightly so. She was a character I quickly became imotionally invested in and I wanted her to survive her ordeals. Though she has had a troubled past, you could see she was trying to move on. Zoe is by no means perfect and she has made mistakes in the past that she can’t correct, but how she had been leading her life seemed to be some sort of penance for this. This penance seemed to be particularly glaring in her marriage to Henry.
Out of the two main male characters in the book, I have to say I found Henry the more interesting of the two. Though this may be down to the fact that Zoe knew him longer and therefor we are able to build a better idea of him, Henry proved to be the more interesting party. His moods were unpredictable and could change in a moment. I became uneasy about him and felt that there was something more to him than this “Prince Charming” persona that he projected to the world. The more I read, the more I wanted to see below the façade he had constructed.
The other male character, Cash, is the reporter who was helping Zoe find out about her birth mother, seemed more like a convenient plot device. I did get why this was the case, but he never seemed to become that interesting. The fact that he seemed to be helping Zoe because he was attracted to her and ended up falling for her just wasn’t that compelling to me. I think the fact that the book is told in the first person POV from Zoe, may be a factor in this.
As I have said, this was a really good Mystery/Thriller and the last few chapters did have me on the edge of my seat as all the pieces fell into place. For that alone, it is well worth the read.
Moretti has written a brilliantly plotted Thriller with a protagonist who you quickly root for. The steady, predictable beats in the genre, make the twist in the tale all that more surprising. It took me by surprise and even after finishing it, I was still left gobsmacked.
If you are looking for a book to fill the void left by The Girl on The Train, you would be well advised to pick this up.