The Vanishing Woman by Kelly Dean Jolley #KellyDeanJolley @MerytonPress @sophiarose1816

Posted February 18, 2024 by Sophia in Book Review / 14 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Vanishing Woman by Kelly Dean Jolley #KellyDeanJolley @MerytonPress  @sophiarose1816The Vanishing Woman by Kelly Dean Jolley
Published by Meryton Press on November 26, 2023
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 161
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Tad Fowler has recently sold his programming business and plans to spend the holiday with family. Now supplied with ample money and leisure for a slow trip by train from Los Angeles to New York, he hopes to spend the trip daydreaming and reading mystery novels – and reconsidering his solitary, work-obsessed life.

A chance meeting aboard the train derails Tad's hope for a quiet, reflective journey. The woman he meets, Quinn Shepherd, immediately captures his imagination. He discovers that Quinn is the traveling companion of her wealthy friend, Aubrey Borden—who has confined herself reclusively to her cabin.

When Aubrey vanishes, Quinn comes to Tad for help. Together they face a real-life mystery: how can a woman vanish from a moving train?

Is Train noir a genre?  If not, it should be.  Kelly Dean Jolley can turn contemporary into nostalgic classic with the turn of a phrase.  I had to keep reminding myself I was reading contemporary because I felt like the setting was the golden age of train travel and the characters and plot fit so well in that setting with the sleepy mystery with the astonishing twist.

The Vanishing Woman is a standalone and a short novel- or long novella length.  The protagonist, Tad Fowler, is the sole narrator.  He’s been buried in his work for years and after selling for millions, he’s finally coming up for air by taking a first class birth on a transcontinental train journey to spend Christmas with his sister and her family.

While the holidays are a backdrop, the focus is Tad’s journey and I don’t only speak of the fabulous train journey.  He comes alive to more than his work and the catalyst is a mysterious, vibrant woman in red who sucks him in to the mystery of her missing friend’s disappearance on the train.  Quinn is gorgeous and Tad is indeed attracted, but he is drawn to more than that and shocker, she seems attracted to his openness and fresh, wholeheartedness.

Then, the twist comes and Tad is swept up in his own topsy-turvy emotional mystery to rival any of the great classic mysteries he loves to read.

The author makes Tad- and Quinn- aficionados of literary and movie classics mostly holiday, train, or mystery-related that I found engaging, too.  The fun nods to the magic of The Polar Express kept the holiday spirit present though the story was layered with mystery, romance, and more.

The Vanishing Woman read quickly, which is perfect for those who want something for the busy-ness of the holiday season, but it was fully developed and draws in the reader from the start even with the mystery slowly gaining ground throughout.  Those who like the golden oldies of holiday, romance, and mystery genres should tug The Vanishing Woman onto their winter TBR stack.



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Posted February 18, 2024 by Sophia in Book Review / 14 Comments

14 responses to “The Vanishing Woman by Kelly Dean Jolley

  1. Train noir is a great idea! I can see why you would be confused on the era when reading, but that means the author did a great job of putting you in the character’s head and created a great scene. Sounds like fun!

  2. Janet T

    Great review, Sophia! I loved this story too and was completely involved with the characters. I would also feel I was reading in an older era and that made it even more delicious when I knew it was contemporary. Kelly did an excellent job with this one.