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Paperback The Missing Book

ISBN: 0307454681

ISBN13: 9780307454683

The Missing

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

A masterful novel set in 1920s Louisiana, The Missing is the story of Sam Simoneaux, a floorwalker at a New Orleans department store. When a little girl is kidnapped on Sam's watch he is haunted by guilt, grief, and ghosts from his own troubled past. Determined to find her, Sam sets out on a journey through a world of music and violence, where riverboats teem with drinking and dancing, and where dark swamplands conceal those who choose to live by...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

"In Heaven all the interesting people are missing." Nietzshe

Not since reading Charles Frazier's "Cold Mountain," have I wholeheartedly enjoyed a story of a time in history and the characters who had so much to tell as in reading "The Missing." It's New Orleans, after WWI, Sam Simoneaux returns from the war. He hadn't engaged in the action but still experienced the horrific aftermath of the conflict. At home, ready for a more peaceful life, he takes a job as a floor walker at a department store. A little girl is kidnapped from the store while he is on duty and he loses his job. Having lost a child to sickenss, he's anguished by the parents' pain. He accepts a job, joining them on a steamboat providing entertainment along the Mississippi waters. Sam feels that he could search for the missing child as the boat stops at towns along the river. He keeps his eyes open, looking for the one thing he remembers about the kidnapping, a woman missing her front teeth. As Sam's search continues, the author's rich description of life along the river banks draws the reader's interest and imagination. We observe hard working men and women drawn to the boat by the sounds of the calliope. One lead surfaces about a family named Shadlock. What happens next makes Sam greatful that he's still alive. He's a haunted character, but admirable for his compassion, bravery and determination. The Mississippi is also a character as the reader experiences the life of the people along its shores. We see the lawlessness, the excitement that the musical steamboat brings to the farmers, the saw millers, and "hillbillies" along the river's edge. In this manner, there is a similarity to Inman's odyssey in "Cold Mountain," experiencing the people on his travels back home after the war, wanting to be with his love and have peace. Among the other characters, Ralph Shadlock, who bemoaned the loss of his dog more than the death of his mother was the most memorable. The plot was rich with folklore and descriptions of life in the past, it provides a vivid picture of the music, prejudice and difficulties of the time.

Remarkable writing

The author writes a wonderful book full of vivid characters and a real sense of place. Set in New Orleans just after World War I, the book opens on the last day of the War, where we meet Sam, a young Cajun who lands in France on the day the Armistice is declared. After returning to New Orleans, he gets what for him is the perfect job. He is a floor walker in a nice department store. But one day, a little girl goes missing, and Sam gets fired, since it happened on his watch. At this point, I had already noted the good plotting and writing, and figured it would be an excellent whodunit. But the book is so much more than that. We learn about Sam's awful history, and the actual crime is solved with lots of story beyond it. That's because this isn't essentially a mystery, but instead is a wonderful study in justice, retribution, forgiveness, and family. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes a book where mystery transcends into literature.

Couldn't Put it Down!

I started this 373 page book early yesterday afternoon and finished it this morning. I woke up very early this morning and finished the last 1/2 of it in one sitting because I couldn't do anything else today until I finished it! Beautiful, haunting story with interesting characters and scenery.

An unforgettable tale by a master storyteller

Welcome to the world of Sam Simoneaux, a man born from a cold potbellied stove. Plucked from its ashes by his uncle, a Frenchman farmer in Louisiana, because his mother is dead and is joined by his father. Leaving Simoneaux with only his father's French blood and his love of music. And both serve him well on his exotic journey from his uncle's farm to New Orleans to a steamboat called the Ambassador. A violent trek that takes him face-to-face with his own loss and "into a wild uncharted, dead-serious place cut off from fathers and all things fathers teach and give." Ironically, while searching for a missing girl, the fatherless Frenchman becomes mentor to the missing girl's brother, August. Simoneaux befriends the boy on the Ambassador while playing music for pugilistic backwater men and women picked up in places like Stovepipe Bend and Chicken Neck Island. But it is when Simoneaux follows August deep into the woods, seeking his younger sister and revenge on her kidnappers that their friendship deepens and the Frenchman teaches August the truth of his grudge: "You'd like to think you're going to help your mamma or provide justice for the world, but you really just want to kill somebody to make yourself feel big." The Frenchman's journey is a suspenseful mule ride into the woods, on railways through backwater towns, on steamboats along riverbanks, and eventually back to streetcars and his wife, Linda, in New Orleans. But it is so much more than a means of transportation into violence and kidnappings and revenge. It is the journey of a gentle man, who needs to redeem himself for an unlucky fate. A man whose journey does not end until his paddlewheel turns full circle and takes him back to the house of his own massacred family. And back to the potbellied stove where his story began.


Tim Gautreaux is a dream of a writer, with a rare and wonderful talent for setting an era and populating it with fascinating people. I say "people" because his creations are far more substantial than mere characters; they get up and walk around and fascinate the reader with their unpredictability. Nothing, in any of his books, is ever predictable. This time out, he takes us for a lengthy ride on a ramshackle entertainment steamboat, making music and discovering his personal depths as he searches for a stolen child and his long-lost family. From small children to rotting-alive villains, everyone is real; and one reads, often, with held breath--fearful/hopeful of what might happen next. This is, quite simply, as good as it gets when it comes to quality fiction. And, as with his previous novels, I despaired of getting to the end because I'll have to wait now for the next wonderful piece of writing to come. My applause to the immensely gifted author and my highest recommendation to readers.
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