Monday, 23 August 2010
I haven't read many books as terrifying as this one, particularly one so short! From beginning to end it had me on the edge of my seat but not because of violence, the book is refreshingly devoid of it, but the author's masterful use of suspense and common fears among us all; What would you do if your partner went to buy something at a gas station in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country, and never came back? (I understand some will say “celebrate” but for most of us I imagine it would be a horrifying thought)
Rex and Saskia are a young Dutch couple on a road trip in France when the unthinkable happens; they stop off at a gas station to rest, Saskia walks to the station and disappears without any trace. There is so much tension within the book you could almost cut it with a knife (then tension I mean, obviously you can cut a book) The story jumps forward and we find Rex trying to move on with his life. He has a new fiancé and things seem to be going well however it isn't long before unpleasant memories and emotions begin to surface and we realise Rex hasn't gotten over it at all because, eight years on, Saskia's disappearance is still a complete mystery. Just when Rex has resigned himself to never knowing what happened to Saskia a mysterious man approaches and offers Rex the chance to find out what happened all those years ago...but at a price.
The story is straightforward, original and very intense. The short length of the book ensures it never gets bogged down in unnecessary detail and moves at a really good pace. I never got bored with it and finished it the same day I started it. The characters are genuine, well thought out and interesting.
If I had to criticise the book at all it would be that it was too short.
It is also a story that really sticks in the mind, which is good from the point of view that it is a good story but bad from the point of view that you don't want to take your eyes off your partner in public for a while after! My wife wandered off in the supermarket today, a bad habit of hers, and I must admit when I couldn't find her right away the book did spring to mind, albeit briefly (I'm not completely neurotic!)
Two movie versions have been made of the book; one is a Dutch movie made in 1988 the other is a Hollywood effort from 1993 starring Sandra Bullock, Kieffer Sutherland and Jeff Bridges. I haven't seen either of these but will keep my eye out.