Rating: 5 ‘Didn’t See That Coming’ Stars

Publisher: Spectrum Books

Genre: LGTBQ Mystery/Crime Thriller

Tags: Contemporary (with flashbacks), Gay Romance (Kind of), Mystery, Thriller

Length: 234 Pages

Reviewer: Cindi

Purchase At: Amazon 

Trigger warnings from publisher – Child abduction, violence, drug use, sex trafficking.

Blurb –

He went into the woods…and never came out.

In 1986, thirteen-year-old Jeb Kleber vanished during his small town’s Fourth of July fireworks. His mysterious disappearance left his first love, Sammy Blake, grieving for years.

Flash forward to present day. A now middle-aged Sam Blake has a comfortable and predictable life with his husband Marc in Chicago. All that changes when a stranger arrives at Sam’s door, claiming to be the missing Jeb Kleber. The stranger knows things he couldn’t possibly know—including the hidden love the boys shared during the summer of ’86. He also wears an amethyst pendant Sam gave him shortly before he disappeared.

Could this be the real Jeb Kleber, missing for thirty-seven years? If not, who is this mysterious stranger? And what does he want after all this time? His appearance plunges Sam’s life into a nightmare of questionable identity, long-buried secrets, and perhaps even murder.

Review –

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Sam just wants to read the latest Stephen King book. His husband Marc is out running errands, so Sam has some rare time alone. He’s just getting settled in his favorite chair when he receives an unexpected visitor. Not just any unexpected visitor, a man who claims to be Sam’s best friend and first love who disappeared when they were both thirteen many years ago.

This visit has Sam going back to when he was a thirteen-year-old boy discovering love for the first time with Jeb. They were young, but they still fooled around a little. Sam, or Sammy as Jeb called him, wanted more than a few kisses here and there and thought the 4th of July would be when it would happen.

Only everything fell apart that night.

What was supposed to be a fun night with Sam, his mother Trudy, and Jeb turned into a major nightmare. They were packing up after the town’s fireworks when Jeb stepped into the woods for a quick bathroom break and never came out again.

And now a man claiming to be Jeb is standing at Sam’s door wanting him to believe he’s still alive after all these years. If it is, in fact, Jeb, where has he been all these years? What happened when he disappeared on July 4th of 1986? This man knows entirely too much to be some random guy pretending to be somebody he’s not. He’s aware of secrets that were only between Sam and Jeb.

This sets Sam on a journey of secrets, betrayal, and even another disappearance. The way everything came together? Let’s just say that I definitely didn’t see that coming. Hell, I didn’t any of it coming. There are quite a few twists and turns. In the beginning I was thinking that parts were too predictable. Honestly, I should’ve known better. I’ve read almost 4 dozen of Rick’s books and short stories. One thing they are not is predictable. In other words, I was wrong in my assumptions in Silence of the Missing. Well, there were a couple of things I figured out early on, but they were things that were meant to be obvious.

The book goes back and forth from the here and now to 1986. I HATE flashbacks in books, but they were necessary in this one. The reader is allowed to see the young love between Sam and Jeb. We’re allowed to see Sam’s heartbreak when Jeb disappeared without a trace. We’re also allowed to watch as Sam is forced to come to terms with things now that he never imagined he’d ever have to deal with.

Not everything is as it appears.

I like Sam’s mother, Trudy. The reader can easily see how much she loves her only child. All she’s ever cared about was his happiness, even if it meant her almost working her fingers to the bone to make it happen when he was young. She doesn’t always make the right choices, and she keeps some secrets she shouldn’t be keeping, but she loves Sam.

Marc, Sam’s husband, I’m not sure about. Okay, that’s not true. I’m very sure that I’m not a fan of Marc for reasons I can’t go into or risk giving spoilers – as much as I really, really want to say why I didn’t like him. 😉

As for Sam, I felt really bad for him throughout the entire book. There were so many secrets surrounding him, and he fought like hell to find all the answers – the answers that eluded him until almost the very end of the book.

I’m a true crime junkie. If you show up at my house pretty much at any time, my TV will be turned to a true crime show, most of which I’ve seen more than once. In Silence Of The Missing the author mentions several cases that I’ve followed over the years. The one that stood out the most for me was Steven Stayner. If you don’t know the story of Steven (and later his brother Cary), you should Google it, or click the link for a quick summary. I remember Steven’s story well, even watching I Know My First Name Is Steven many years ago. By throwing out Steven Staynor’s story, the reader is left wondering if the story of Jeb will be similar to Steven’s, or was Jeb really dead after all these years as everyone suspected?

The reader doesn’t get those answers until the end.

Anybody who has followed my reviews for any length of time knows how much of a fan I am of Rick R. Reed. I love his romance stories, but my favorites of his will always be his thrillers and horror stories. While I wouldn’t say Silence Of The Missing is a horror story, I will say that it’s a mystery slash thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. It’s kind of a romance but not in the way you’d expect. To me, this is the classic Rick R. Reed book that made me fall in love with his writing many years ago.

Overall, this is another great book by Rick. Parts will get your heart racing as you’re eager to find out what really happened that 4th of July night so many years ago. Other parts will have your heart breaking a little for more than one of the characters. In the end, no doubt you’ll be pleased with the resolution even if it’s not the ending one might expect.

The entire book is a spoiler. I hope the readers will respect that and not share anything that will give the story’s secrets away.

A huge thank you to the author for the advanced copy of the book.