The small town of Vanishing Falls is quiet and mostly peaceful, and though there are rumblings of unsavory happenings in the rough farmhouses on the outskirts, most of the residents coexist uneventfully. One night, however, a woman named Celia Lily disappears; her husband, Jack, is the obvious suspect. As the mystery intensifies and more time passes without finding Celia, other possible suspects emerge. There’s Cliff Gatenby, a local chicken farmer, whose meth addiction and dire financial circumstances provide ample motives. There’s Keegan and Karen from Marsh End, who end up with a valuable painting belonging to Jack–a painting that could alter their lives substantially. And floating amid the different groups is Joelle Smithton, whose personal history was marked by a traumatic, violent event that not everyone knows much about. Joelle might not seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer, and people tell her things. Things that connect in ways that other people who aren’t as observant as Joelle might not realize.
The mystery at the heart of this novel–what happened to Celia Lily?–launches in the prologue, and the novel goes back in time to showcase the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and to establish how very many people in Vanishing Falls might be to blame. The isolation and depravity of the area keep the questions alive through four hundred pages, and even readers as astute as Joelle will be kept guessing until the end.
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