#BlogTour- James Delargy- Vanished

The Kane family, Lorcan, Naiyana and their young son, relocate from Perth to Kallayee, an abandoned mining town in the Great Victoria Desert to start over again, free from their chequered past.  The town seems like the perfect getaway: Peaceful. Quiet. Remote. Somewhere they won’t be found. But life in Kallayee isn’t quite as straightforward as they hope. There are noises in the earth, mysterious shadows and tracks in the dust as if the town is coming back to life.  But the family can’t leave. No one can talk sense into them. And now, no one can talk to them at all. They’ve simply vanished. Now it’s up to Detective Emmaline Taylor to find them, before it’s too late… 

I thoroughly enjoyed James Delargy’s previous book 55, so no hesitation in picking up his second, Vanished, once again transporting us to the Australian outback, and into the grip of an intriguing mystery…

The absolute hook of this book throughout is the use of location, and how Delargy depicts this totally inhospitable, bleak and uncomfortable landscape to such great effect throughout the book. The abandoned gold mining town of Kallayee (use the skeleton of dead kangaroo to navigate your way there- how creepy is that?) is a gem of a place to set a deeply unsettling and dark mystery, with its biting sense of desolation and emptiness, punctuated by strange noises, mysterious overnight visitors and the overall creepiness of this barren location. The idea that any family would want to locate there, whatever they are running from, does beggar belief, but that’s just what Delargy’s characters do. More fool them. This is a haunted town with a dark history,  with blood in its very foundations, and as the plot unfolds, there will be more bloodshed and death of that you can be sure…

Told through the contrasting viewpoints of the family members, Lorcan and Naiyana, the detective Emmaline Taylor tasked with investigating their sudden disappearance, and some additional characters that I can’t reveal for fear of spoilers, the story takes the reader on a journey from a crime committed in the big city, to a family on the run. Delargy’s characterisation is assured and I liked the way he played with the strength and weaknesses of his main protagonists, subtly manipulating the reader’s feelings towards them. There did feel like a little bit of box ticking in terms of a couple of his characters, especially Detective Emmaline Taylor with the superficial emphasis on her being a woman of colour, which  wasn’t really developed with any particular nuance throughout the book. We do, however, perceive how professionally she conducts her investigation, and her reluctance to let others overshadow her, and to dictate the course of her actions. I thought overall she was the strongest voice in the book, and really held the plot together in the shadow of the bizarre events playing out around her, and would love to see her return in future books maybe with her strident character and attitude.

Along the way in Vanished we meet a small band of badly behaving characters who threaten the family’s safety, but how much can this family really trust one another? And there’s the rub, as Delargy pulls us in different directions, undermining our belief and trust in the characters he portrays, until the book hurtles towards a host dark and violent reveals, some of which will surprise and unnerve you. I will be completely honest, and say that I didn’t completely buy into some of the plot twists, with the ending giving me somewhat of a furrowed brow, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride overall, and the claustrophobic atmosphere of this tale saturated with rapacity, violence, lust and dastardly betrayal. Worth a look if only for the trip to the truly creepy town of Kallayee. Mwhahaha…

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(With thanks to Simon & Schuster for the ARC)

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives. He incorporates this diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. His first novel, 55, was published in 2019 by Simon & Schuster and has been sold to 21 territories to date. Vanished is his second novel. Find him on Twitter: @jdelargyauthor

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