Zoe Whittaker has it all: Her husband is Henry Whittaker, a tycoon. He found her while she was working in a flower show and literally wooed her: The crazy girl with the crazy hair is whisked off for trips around the world and invited to parties, and after a very small wedding only a shortly after meeting for the first time, Zoe is part of the Manhattan social elite.

But a few things are off: Even at her own charity events, Zoe does not want pictures taken of her. Why? Because it could be dangerous if too many people saw her face. What if someone recognises her? Recognises the woman she was five years ago, before she changed her name, moved East, and left her past behind her. Even Henry doesn’t know.

Something else is weird. Henry, who seems to be attentive and sensitive at first, becomes suspicious, controlling even.

“He seems very interested in you.”
I snatch the paper from his hand. “What are you talking about? This was my event. Of course I’m featured heavily.”
“A lot of quotes from you, that’s all. I have a feeling you were a big influence in the entire write-up. Maybe he talked to other people, but all of this about the scholarships and the schoolbooks? These are things I’ve heard you mention.”
“Well, he did talk to me. That should be fine. The story is what’s important.” I can feel my hackles rising, my chin jutting out.
“And this picture? It’s practically a seventies smoking ad. You’re all curves and seduction.”
“You can’t even see my face.”
“Exactly. Just your bare back, a glimmer of shoulder, long sexy hair, and a hint of a smile in profile.”

“How many times did you meet with this man, Zoe?”
“Three.” I spear a piece of lamb, the tender meat falls apart, a perfect doneness. Sometimes I’d like her to, just once, burn a meal. Overestimate the cooking time. It hasn’t happened yet.
“Yet, you’ve said nothing. I ask you about your daily activities. You’ve remained vague. Why?”

Is he really just a caring husband? And is she right assuming the near-accidents she keeps having could be related to her past?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It starts out with the balancing act of Zoe’s two lives, she plunges into the search for her birth mother, and the end really deserves the name of thriller.

The Vanishing Year, by Kate Moretti
First published September 2016
ISBN 1501118439 (ISBN 13: 978-1501118432)

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