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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vanish in Plain Sight by Marta Perry

Vanish in Plain Sight by Marta Perry
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (384 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Water Lily

Since she was a little girl, Marisa Angelo has been haunted by the image of her mother walking away, suitcase in hand, to return to her Amish roots. Marisa and her Englischer father never saw or heard from her again. Now Marisa has received a shocking call from police. Her mother’s bloodstained suitcase was found hidden inside the wall of a Pennsylvania Dutch farmhouse.

Desperate for answers, Marisa heads to Lancaster County. But no one—not the police or Marisa’s tight-lipped Amish relatives—can explain what happened to her mother. Only one man is as determined as Marisa to unravel the mystery—Link Morgan, the handsome ex-military loner who found the suitcase in the house he inherited from his uncle. Now both Link’s and Marisa’s family member are implicated in the decades-old disappearance.

The secret lies somewhere in the quaint Amish settlement. But someone will do anything to ensure the truth remains hidden forever.

Some books are so good you find yourself recommending them as you’re reading them. Vanish in Plain Sight is like that. Marta Perry caught me with the blurb and held on tight through the entire book with characters so well rounded I’d swear they were real. Even minor characters with walk on roles were clearly people rather than cutouts. The Amish community is a character with a personality, and many of the characters were members of that community. There isn’t an Amish community where I live, so I’ve never had experience with them outside of books. Their solid, conservative, communit-minded, faith-filled view of life was refreshing. Marisa’s lack of familiarity with the culture made learning about the Amish easy for the reader.

Marta Perry has a knack for organic writing. Information flows naturally. The plot develops logically. The reader learns about the Amish culture and follows the clues effortlessly. Stereotypes were explored and explained so organically, so naturally, that it wasn’t until I was about to write this review that I realized how much I’d learned. The mystery is fascinatingly revealed one piece at a time so it feels as if the reader and the characters discover things together.

Both Link and Marisa are both strong and weak in turn. Both have baggage, know they have baggage, and are working through some of the bags, but have accepted that other bags will be with them forever. Like real people. Their personal histories are part of the characters, not something put into the story to add depth. The romance between Link and Marisa is the most natural thing. It’s chemistry with respect and maturity—true emotional connection instead of lust. Their growing affection is simultaneously longed for and rejected, unexpected yet unavoidable. Yet, despite the genre, the ending didn’t feel like a given.

In a word, this book was captivating. It was also satisfying. Okay, that’s two words. Captivating and satisfying. I am so glad I was the one who got to review this book. I’ll be suggesting this title for my book club once it’s out in print.