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Book Review: Deceptions by Rebecca Frayn

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I seriously doubt that there is any way one human being can experience the terror and dread when a loved one seems to simply evaporate. Imagine being Annie whose twelve year old son starts for home at day’s end, mounts his bicycle, and according to one of his friends, began to pedal toward … home …!

Gone!

Somewhere between mounting his old bicycle and the front door to his home, young Dan simply vanishes from the world. Police and neighbors search wildly for Dan. They search every conceivable nook and cranny of his home, then his neighborhood, then his bike route. Inconceivably, Dan cannot be found.

Three horrific days of worry become three months; three months become three long years. Anna refuses to believe Dan just walked off a flat earth. Others try to help her get on with her life including her future spouse. Impossible! Anna’s marriage plans are splintered and understandably. Anna, has suffered such an incredible shock to her psyche that moving on is not possible.

Is Dan dead? Could he have run away from home? Did someone abduct him? If so, what horrors did Dan suffer? Is he still enduring some kind of torture at the hands of some demented kidnapper? Even as the days have turned into long years, Anna refuses to give up. Often, she hunts for her son along the same path from which he most likely disappeared on his way home from school.

But, then, the impossible happens. Anna receives a phone call saying a boy similar to Dan’s description has been found wandering in Scotland. In his pocket was Anna’s phone number. The two are reunited physically, but not really in spirit. Dan is now fifteen-years old. He has lost his memory. He barely speaks. He does not even recognize items in his home that were his earlier treasures. He has forgotten how to ride a two-wheel bicycle, a skill, which once learned, is never forgotten.

When Anna looks into Dan’s eyes, they are not the same color as before his absence. His personality is practically nil at first, but then slowly he warms up to his environment as if he just moved there, rather than from any real recognition of his surroundings. Is this Dan?

What happens to this young boy, his mother Anna, and to those around Dan I will leave to the reader. Author Rebecca Frayn has delivered a truly suspenseful story that injects the reader into Anna’s obsessing mind. It simply cannot be helped. The pace is such that even small details move it quickly along from page to page.

I would recommend this book, not so much as a pleasurable read, but one that can tear at your heartstrings. It will remind you that predators are everywhere — or — or are they?

About Regis Schilken