Book Review: Chevy Stevens’s STILL MISSING

Any time someone says a book is “unputdownable,” I take it as a challenge: “Oh, yeah? Watch me.” And I often win.

But author Chevy Stevens (a pseudonym for Rene Unischewski) has earned this word on the back cover of her debut novel Still Missing (St. Martin’s, July 6), making me hate myself every time I had to put it down to attend to basic human needs. I was thisclose to strapping on an adult diaper and a feed bag so I wouldn’t have to take breaks.

Annie O’Sullivan is a Realtor from Vancouver Island who was abducted and held captive for about a year by a man she calls The Freak. Her horrific experience in an isolated cabin up unfolds in first person through sessions with her therapist. From the beginning, you know she survived but don’t know how she escaped or what was done to her. As the sessions continue, you kinda wish she wouldn’t tell you. And just when you think Annie’s ordeal might be over, she discovers the reason behind her abduction. The new revelations are more shattering than anything The Freak did to her.

I usually know right away whether or not I’ll like a book and here’s what hooked me from page one:

Even the guy’s office was a turnoff—black leather couches, plastic plants, glass and chrome desk. Way to make your patients feel comfortable, buddy. And of course everything was perfectly lined up on the desk. His teeth were the only damn thing crooked in his office, and if you ask me, there’s something a little strange about a guy who needs to line up everything on his desk but doesn’t get his teeth fixed.

Photo: Suzanne Teresa

This is Annie’s description of her previous shrink and it perfectly sets up her voice: wary but sharp and dark-witted. Though she doubts she’ll ever find her way back to normal, she’s more resilient than she realizes. What she endures at the hands of The Freak is beyond disturbing (he makes Lord Voldemort seem charming), but I couldn’t stop reading. It’s as if I had to bear witness to Annie’s pain because if I look away, she’ll disappear again, maybe for good.

Stevens’s lean, punch-in-your-gut style held me captive. She doesn’t embellish the terrible events because she doesn’t need to. She does drop an obvious clue to the culprit’s identity long before Annie recognizes it, but Annie’s psychologically scrambled state makes it plausible she wouldn’t catch on.

Throughout most of the book, my stomach hurt from the tension; my skin wasn’t just crawling, it was practically jumping. It’s easy to see why Stevens had to approach only one agent and one publisher with her first manuscript before she was signed to a three-book deal (read more about it here and try not to hate her too much).

Nerd verdict: Searing Missing

Buy Still Missing from Amazon
Buy from Barnes & Noble
Buy from an indie bookstore

I’ll be missing from this site for the next several days as I go out of town for the holiday weekend. I’ll have Internet access but may choose not to use it. If you observe the Fourth of July, I wish you a safe and wonderful celebration.



  • Reply
    Naomi Johnson
    July 1, 2010 at 4:59 am

    Never mind her writing talent, I’m just trying not to hate her because she’s young and beautiful.

  • Reply
    July 1, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Thank you for an excellent review, this book will definitely
    be on my wish list.

  • Reply
    July 1, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Ohhh I’ve had this ARC on my desk forever but like you, didn’t trust all the hype – seemed too good to be true! I’ll definitely be picking it up now.

    Have a wonderful holiday weekend, PCN!

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    July 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Marjorie—Yes, put it at the top of your list!

    Novelwhore—It’s a fast read so once you pick it up, you’ll probably finish it in no time. Speaking of which, don’t you have lots of free time coming up? Have a wonderful holiday and week off!

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    July 2, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Yes, I’ll do my best not to ever use the “unputdownable” word outside of Scrabble. That said, I’m glad this one lives up to the Word-That-Must-Not-Be-Used. If I can steel my nerves, it’s going onto The List. Thanks for the great review, PCN! {Can I say, I’m relieved you didn’t have to be relieved via the diaper?}

  • Reply
    Ann-Kat (Today, I Read...)
    July 7, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Loved your review…especially the reference to the adult diaper and feed bag mainly because I felt the same way. LOL

    This book was definitely a quick and enthralling read. I’m still awed by it. Chevy Stevens is a rare bird indeed.

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    July 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Shell—If you used that word in Scrabble, you would lose when your friends challenge you. And yes, I was also relieved I didn’t have to use the Depends. Those things aren’t cheap!

    Ann-Kat—Welcome to PCN! Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one feeling that way about the book. On top of my bladder and hunger needs, my feet went unwashed for hours.

  • Reply
    July 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I just finished reading this CRAZY story!! OMG! OMG!! OMG!!!

    I missed about 4 appointments because I could not put this book down. My jaw was on the floor when it’s finally revealed what is going on.

    Good call, PCN!

  • Reply
    February 10, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    OMG, I agree with you so hard. Adult diapers were next on my list. Sleep? WHO NEEDS IT!!11!

    From the first word to the last, amazing.

    I think it would make a good movie too.

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