Still Missing
by Chevy Stevens

St. Martin's Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-312-59567-8.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Moore
Posted on 11/10/2010

Fiction: Mystery; Fiction: Thriller

Still Missing is a psychological thriller set on Vancouver Island, British Columbia by first-time author, Chevy Stevens. Stevens has created the fictional town of Clayton Falls rather than referring to Nanaimo where we both happen to live.

From the opening words of Annie O'Sullivan to her psychiatrist, to her last revelations to a friend, this is a story that kept me continually engaged with the protagonist's first-person account of her abduction.

Annie is a real estate agent, alone at the end of an "open house," when a man she doesn't know approaches her, in a friendly way at first, and then forces her into a van. Annie ends up in a secluded cabin under his control for a year.

Stevens has described the cat-and-mouse horror of captor and captive so intricately and so well. As Annie says, "Understanding his behavior was critical."

The chapters are untitled and represent 26 sessions Annie spends with a psychiatrist—which means that we know from the beginning that she survives. It is this "after story" that compelled Stevens to write the book. People who survive pain and tragedy fill her with hope, she told me.

Stevens has crafted an amazing balancing act with the two narratives: the present visits with Doc, Annie's psychiatrist, and the reflections on the past ordeal of being held captive by the man she calls The Freak. As a survivor, Annie relates a dark story which she laces with humour and cussing. As a victim, she is as courteous as she can manage, suppressing her real feelings, while being terrorized by her abductor.

I believe in the healing benefits of writing and was interested to learn that Sevens was able to work through her own feelings of powerlessness growing up with an alcoholic father. Her father didn't have a chance to work through his issues; he died when she was 22. Stevens is now 37. She honors her father with her writing name, "Chevy." Her brother Steven's first name became her surname. As for Stevens's protagonist, she is named for her beloved dog, Annie.

Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and still calls the island home. When she's not working on her next book, Never Knowing, she's hiking with her husband and dog in the local mountains. Visit her website. Read Mary Ann Moore's Vancouver Sun profile of Chevy Stevens.

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