19 January 2022

Review: THE DISAPPEARING ACT, Catherine Steadman

  • this edition published by Simon & Schuster UK 2021
  • ISBN 978-1-3985-0635-7
  • 312 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

A woman has gone missing
But did she ever really exist?

Mia Eliot has travelled from London to LA for pilot season. This is her big chance to make it as an actor in Hollywood, and she is ready to do whatever it takes. At an audition she meets Emily, and what starts as a simple favour takes a dark turn when Emily goes missing and Mia is the last person to see her.

Then a woman turns up, claiming to be Emily, but she is nothing like Mia remembers. Why would someone pretend to be Emily? Starting to question her own sanity, she goes on a desperate and dangerous search for answers, knowing something is very, very wrong.

In an industry where everything is about creating illusions, how do you know what is real and how much are you willing to risk to find out the truth?

My take

Mia Eliot's reputation has gone before her to LA. She has just finished a television series of Jane Eyre for which she has a BAFTA nomination for best actress. She's also left after a relationship breakdown so she is feeling a bit vulnerable. Her time in LA will be focussed on auditions for television and film parts. Her London agent has organised a number of auditions and also a local agent to help her. Her time will mainly be occupied in learning lines for the auditions.

At an audition she is struck by the similarity of each of the actresses to each other, but then realises that that is related to the fact that they are all auditioning for the same role. However this afternoon, only one of the others is friendly to her and that is Emily. Mia ends up doing Emily a favour: she agrees to top up the parking meter that Emily left her hire car on. Emily arrived at the audition before Mia and therefore should be called in to audition first. Emily gives her a credit card to put into the parking machine and her car keys in case she needs them. When Mia comes back Emily is gone. Mia assumes she is doing her audition but in fact she has disappeared, Four days later Mia still has Emily's keys and credit card and reports Emily to the police as missing. Meantime Mia thinks someone is entering her apartment when she is absent, or may be even when she is asleep.

This is the sort of book that keeps you reading because you want to know what has happened to Emily. In addition you learn a lot about the LA "pilot season". Mia learns that LA has a very nasty underside, and that some people will do anything to capture a prize part.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

4.5, MR NOBODY  

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