What is causing The Disappearing of blond girls in Waddell Florida is the question in this Southern neo-gothic dripping with moss and memories of the pre-Civil War lifestyle.

After her husband leaves, Lane returns to her hometown in Florida with her two daughters, Annalee and Talley, to live with her parents in the infamous Fielding Mansion with the famous hanging tree out front. Her father, Neil, is becoming forgetful, which may be a blessing after he is blamed for physically abusing hundreds at the now closed boy’s school behind their house.

The town has never felt welcoming to Lane after her abduction by one of the boys from the school at age 13. Now more girls are disappearing. First, her mother’s friend Susannah and then her daughter Annalee.

Mentally slow Daryl strikes up a friendship with Talley while looking for his brother, Wayne. Wayne disappeared 12 years ago while a school resident.

The Disappearing is all about atmosphere and Southern history. It is more a family drama about how the sins of the father visit the children than a thriller or a mystery. The pacing is slow like literary fiction. Not much action happens until the last third of the book. By then, I was just worn down and wanted it to end. While I didn’t like it much and give it 3 stars, your experience may differ.

Thanks to the publisher, Dutton Books, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

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