Saturday, May 25, 2013

ARC Review: Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel

Evidence of Life
Author: Barbara Taylor Sissel
Publication: Harlequin MIRA; Original edition (March 26, 2013)

Description: On the last ordinary day of her life, Abby Bennett feels like the luckiest woman alive. But everyone knows that luck doesn't last forever…

As her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lindsey, embark on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby looks forward to having some quiet time to herself. She braids Lindsey's hair, reminds Nick to drive safely and kisses them both goodbye. For a brief moment, Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace.

When Nick and Lindsey are presumed dead, lost in the raging waters, Abby refuses to give up hope. Consumed by grief and clinging to her belief that her family is still alive, she sets out to find them. But as disturbing clues begin to surface, Abby realizes that the truth may be far more sinister than she imagined. Soon she finds herself caught in a current of lies that threaten to unhinge her and challenge everything she once believed about her marriage and family.

With a voice that resonates with stunning clarity, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers a taut and chilling mystery about a mother's love, a wife's obsession and the invisible fractures that can shatter a family.

My Thoughts: EVIDENCE OF LIFE was, literally, a book I couldn't put down. I know authors sort of cringe when the book they labored over for quite a long time is devoured in just a couple of hours by a reader. But, Ms. Sissel, your book is going to stay in my mind for quite a long time.

More than a mystery, this story explores a woman's guilt and grief. When Abby Bennett's husband and fifteen-year-old daughter head off to the Texas Hill Country for some camping, Abby's first thought is that she will get some alone time. But when pounding rain and thunderstorms cause flooding and when she gets a mysterious call from her daughter, things change for Abby.

Abby is determined to go to the Hill Country to find her husband and daughter. She goes to the home of her childhood best friend which has turned into rescue central and begins her search. When they aren't found and when the sheriff starts asking questions that indicate that her husband's disappearance may relate to some embezzled money, Abby doesn't know what to think.

Abby searches long past when others have given up. Her life is falling apart. What makes it worse is that everyone—her son, her best friend, the sheriff, her husband's colleagues—are keeping information from her because they think she isn't strong enough to handle it. 

Then a name and a fax number on a matchbook cover in one of her husband's jackets leads to answers that she would rather not have. 

This was an excellent story about a woman who was a homebody, who was quiet, who was not adventurous, finding the hidden strength within her that she needs to unravel the disappearance of her husband and daughter and who grows and changes in her search. While both her mother and mother-in-law are urging her to give up, to hold a memorial service, and to move on, Abby is determined to find her own sort of closure. 

Just a note: My ARC had book club discussion questions in the back that a reader might want to avoid until after they have finished the book. There are some spoilers there. 

Thoughtful readers will greatly enjoy this mystery and will love getting to know Abby Bennett as she deals with something no wife or mother should ever have to deal with.

Favorite Quote:
Abby began losing time. She would wake on the sofa assuming it was morning only to discover it was three o'clock in the afternoon, or she would find herself in the barn with no memory of having gone there. Every day she would try to follow a routine, but then she would come to and find herself balled up in a corner of Lindsey's room or standing outside the door of Nick's study, and her face would be wet with tears and she would not know how long she had been there. 
I received this ARC as a part of the blog tour. You can buy your copy here


  1. I would love to read this one. Change can happen so quickly in a person's life.

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. I knew it was great storytelling, but like I said, the sensitive time in my life made it hard to read.


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