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Publisher's Summary

The new gripping psychological thriller from the New York Times best-selling author of Mr Nobody and Something in the Water.

A woman has gone missing
But did she ever really exist?

Mia Eliot has travelled from London to LA for pilot season. This is her big chance to make it as an actor in Hollywood, and she is ready to do whatever it takes. At an audition she meets Emily, and what starts as a simple favour takes a dark turn when Emily goes missing and Mia is the last person to see her.

Then a woman turns up, claiming to be Emily, but she is nothing like Mia remembers. Why would someone pretend to be Emily? Starting to question her own sanity, she goes on a desperate and dangerous search for answers, knowing something is very, very wrong.

In an industry where everything is about creating illusions, how do you know what is real? And how much would you risk to find out? 

©2021 Catherine Steadman (P)2021 Simon & Schuster UK

Critic Reviews

"Ingenious and intriguing." (BA Paris)

"I devoured this Londoner in LA story in a day." (Caroline Kepnes)

"I loved it." (TM Logan)

"Engaging and suspenseful." (New York Times)

What listeners say about The Disappearing Act

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Keeps you listening

Was disappointed with part of the ending, ie with the Hollywood sign. Don’t want to give anything away so will leave it at that. But otherwise a good listen with plenty of mis-steps by the main character as she tries to get to the truth.

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Good story

This is almost brilliant almost not put down book. Just not quite. It’s a bit silly at times.

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  • Sean O'Neil
  • 19-08-2021

Pleasant Enough, If Not Wholly Intriguing Company

Mulholland Drive meets Nancy Drew though it's a lot more Carolyn Keene than David Lynch or even John le Carre (The Little Drummer Girl). Steadman seems to be aiming at a blandly intriguing narrative that emphasises plot more than character; given her actress heroine, Mia, the first person narrator, is a tourist travelling for the first time to Los Angeles, we're never provided with much context or local atmosphere as the film industry neophyte ticks appointments off of her prepared itinerary (Steadman leaves that to the location scout, apparently). If Steadman had any real interest in L.A., she would've attempted an omniscient narrator who could've provided a rich, illustrative, historical context for this wannabe sordid tale; instead we get a lot of naff mentions of the H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D sign (around which her final set piece is located) which nobody who really knows L.A. has the least fascination with. (Though, to her credit, there is one mention each of a reservoir and Silver Lake so at least she's watched Chinatown, presumably.) The stock, strictly one dimensional characters are so thin they're really just "types," which makes for an easy shorthand but does little to activate the imagination; Steadman is always at pains to maintain Mia's virtue - for all we know, she may not even go to the bathroom - so complexity is completely off the cards. (It's hard to believe that a goodie-goodie like Mia could even be an actress in London, let alone L.A.) And, of course, Mia always cinches every audition, even if there's little in the way of even suggesting what drives her to pursue the work - her motivations, like everyone else's, are more like straight lines drawn to connect the dots rather than anything arising out of a character's psychological or primal motivations. Similarly, the action all sounds like stage directions, lacking any visceral detail that might actually bring it to life for the listener.

Still, Steadman gives the narration a coolness of tone that is pleasant to the ear and in regards to the film industry itself, will at least make you feel like you're peering beyond the velvet rope, if not exactly placing you in the room beyond the room. The Disappearing Act lacks the passion and curiosity required to make it seem like anything more than a side gig; it's a benign, undemanding excursion that doesn't quite earn the dark notes it tries to strike in its final pages, as it reaches for a DePalma like coda that with its tidiness and self-satisfaction reads more like Jane Austen.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-09-2021

👍👍👍

One great story full of twists and surprises, the narrator is a delight to listen to as well. I know where I would spend my next credit. Strongly recommended!

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  • Emma
  • 17-08-2021

Incredible

Her best book yet, I absolutely loved something in the water but this is another level. Thrilling and heart stopping. The last few chapters…..
Brilliantly read by Catherine.

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  • sharon hilliard
  • 16-08-2021

Skip!

I listened to the end waiting for something to happen. Maybe a twist or a dramatic turn of events would save the story? No there was nothing. The narrator is easy to listen to maybe that's why I kept going.. The main character is so two dimensional, selfish and ridiculous. She just kept asking herself questions all the time! Frustrating. If she was in a horror film she would be the teenage girl running upstairs instead of out the front door. Don't waste a credit! Gave it two stars because I finished it.

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  • Hannah
  • 20-07-2021

A great summer page turner

I really enjoyed this one, it’s a return to the form of her first book

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  • Amelia
  • 16-07-2021

Upsetting Content Warning

Small spoiler alert and content warning.

Please be a divided this book has content of sexual assault and a recording of, not the rape itself but, the incident and conversation before, during and after.

I personally found this too much to handle and feel it could have been dealt with in a completely different way.
I’m very disappointed in Catherine (Steadman), as I have liked her other books and adored “Mr Nobody”. I don’t feel she took into account how this direction and use of story telling might affect certain readers.

I also need to say that I found the whole lead up, to the point I said to myself enough is enough, derivative and quite a claustrophobic read. I found the actions of our lead character foolish and implausible. Worst of all I found her unlikable and I was unable to connect with her on any level.

It’s a real shame and I am starting to wonder if “Mr Nobody” was her one true shining moment in literature and perhaps we may not see the like from her again.

This will definitely be one I shall be returning.

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  • Rosemarie
  • 08-07-2021

Didn’t want it to end

I have waited for this book for a long time it seems and I was not disappointed. I love the fact that Catherine Steadman narrates the book and that she gives us a little in sight to the film industry.

If your reading the reviews deciding whether to buy the book or not, don’t hesitate it. You won’t be disappointed.


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  • None
  • 02-07-2021

Cracking book the author is back on form

I loved Catherine Steadman's first book and did not enjoy her second, however with this book she is back on form. I love her highly original plots and characterisation and also her own narration of her work. This book had it all great plot very unique, interesting characters and engaging narration. Set in Hollywood this also gave us a peak behind the scenes (given the author is an actress this was probably accurate) the twists were clever and the pace kept the reader on the edge throughout. Maybe the ending could have been a bit more gripping as the book wraps things up well before the end but that said all in all an enjoyable read.

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  • Jo Hanley
  • 29-06-2021

really enjoyable

this was a great thriller. wholly unbelievable in some parts but very close to the bone in others. go with it.

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