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Friday, December 14, 2012

The Disappearance of Grace by Vincent Zandri (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Vincent Zandri, author of The Disappearance of Grace!

Author Guest Post

A Day In The Life
By Vincent Zandri

The day.

It begins like everyone else’s day. I wake up seeking out the coffee. It’s usually still dark out, or the sun is just managing to rise up golden yellow over the Berkshire Mountains to the east (or over the Dolomites if I’m in Italy). I still have a little one underfoot, and my girlfriend and I work together to get her off to school (AUTHOR’S NOTE: My girlfriend is also my ex-wife and we live together but don’t live together so it’s complicated…you following me here?). From that point on my day is all about the writing.

Here’s the typical schedule: Write in the morning for a couple of hours. Then break for a jog and maybe some training with weights. Then after a shower, I’ll write some more, and later break for lunch. Lunch might be as simple as a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich washed down with a cold glass of tomato juice. Or as complicated as a pasta pomodoro, followed by an insulata of fresh greens, followed by a roasted coniglio or what you and I know as rabbit.

After lunch I hit the keys again, usually with another cup of coffee fueling me. Maybe an afternoon nap a little later on, followed by a visit to the local for a quick beer. I prefer lager to ale. By this time, the house will be full of people again and I might cook for everyone and then sit down to a long dinner. I usually enjoy making very good meal that will go well with a nice red wine. You are by all means invited if you are ever in town. After that, it’s bed and reading. I don’t watch TV. Ever. Lights out somewhere around 10:30pm.

In the morning, I wake up and do it all over again as the sun also rises over the mountains to the east of wherever I happen to be on the planet.

About The Author

Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon author of The Innocent, Godchild, The Remains, Moonlight Falls, Concrete Pearl, Moonlight Rises, Scream Catcher, Blue Moonlight and Murder By Moonlight. He is also the author of the Amazon bestselling digital shorts, Pathological, True Stories and Moonlight Mafia. Harlan Coben has described The Innocent (formerly As Catch Can) as "...gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting," while the New York Post called it "Sensational...Masterful...Brilliant!" Zandri's list of publishers include Delacorte, Dell, StoneHouse Ink, StoneGate Ink and Thomas & Mercer. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri's work is translated into many languages including the Dutch, Russian, and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for RT, Globalspec, IBTimes and more, he lives in Albany, New York.

Vincent Zandri ~ The Disappearance of Grace ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Book Review

The Disappearance of Grace by Vincent Zandri
Publisher: StoneHouse Ink
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Format: eBook - 222 pages / Kindle - 433 KB / Nook 2 MB
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

BUY THE BOOK: The Disappearance of Grace

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description: 

Now you see her. Now you don’t.

Captain Nick Angel has finally made a separate peace with the war in Afghanistan. Since having been ordered to bomb a Tajik village which resulted in the death of a little boy of no more than two, he’s been suffering from temporary bouts of blindness. Knowing the he needs time to rest and recover from his post traumatic stress, the US Army decides to send him to Venice along with his fiancee, the artist, Grace Blunt. Together they try and recapture their former life together. But when Grace suddenly goes missing, Nick not only finds himself suddenly alone and sightless in the ancient city of water, but also the number one suspect in her disappearance.

A novel that projects Hitchcockian suspense onto a backdrop of love and war, The Disappearance of Grace is a rich, literary thriller of fear, loss, love, and revenge. From the war in the Afghan mountains to the canals of romantic Venice, this is a story that proves 20/20 eyesight might not always be so perfect and seeing is not always believing.

Book Excerpt:

The wind picks up off the basin.

It seems to seep right through my leather coat into flesh, skin and bone. I try and hold my face up to the sun while the waiter takes our orders. Grace orders a single glass of vino russo and a pancetta and cheese panini. I forgo the Valpolicella and order a Moretti beer and a simple spaghetti pomadoro. The waiter thanks us and I listen to him leaving us for now.

We sit in the calm of the early afternoon, the sounds of the boat traffic coming and going on the basin filling my ears. People surround us on all sides. Tourists who have come to San Marco for the first time and who’ve become mesmerized by it all. I don’t have to physically see them to know how they feel. The stone square, the Cathedral, the bell tower, the many shops and high- end eateries that occupy the wide, square-shaped perimeter. The pigeons. The people. Always the throngs of people coming and going amidst a chorus of bells, bellowing voices, live music emerging from trumpets, violins, and guitars, and an energetic buzz that seems to radiate up from underneath all that stone and sea-soaked soil.

It’s early November.

Here’s what I know about Venice: In just a few week’s’ time, the rains will come and this square will be underwater. The ever sinking Venice floods easily now. The only way to walk the square will be over hastily constructed platforms made from cobbled narrow planks. Many of the tourists will stay away and the live music will be silenced. But somehow, that’s when Venice will come alive more than ever. When the stone is bathed in water.

The waiter brings our drinks and food.

With the aroma of the hot spaghetti filling my senses, I dig in and spoon up a mouthful. I wash the hot, tangy sauce-covered pasta down with a swallow of red wine.

“Whoa, slow down, chief,” Grace giggles.

“Eating, smiling, making love to me. What’s next? Writing?”

“Don’t press your luck, Gracie,” I say. “The sea change can occur at any moment. Just don’t start asking me to identify engagement rings.”

She laughs genuinely and I listen to the sounds of her taking a bite out of her sandwich. But then she goes quiet again. Too quiet, as if she’s stopped breathing altogether.

“There’s someone staring at us,” she says under her breath.

“Man or woman?” I say, trying to position my gaze directly across the table at her, but making out nothing more than her black silhouette framed against the brightness of the sun. Later on, when the sun goes down, the image of her will be entirely black. Like the blackness of the Afghan Tajik country when the fires are put out and you lie very still inside your tent without the benefit of electronic night vision, and you feel the beating of your never- still heart and you pray for morning.

“Man,” she whispers.

“What’s he look like?”

“It’s him again. The man in the overcoat who was staring at us yesterday.”

A start in my heart. I put my fork down inside my bowl. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. I think. He’s wearing sunglasses this time. So,. I think it’s him.”

“What’s he look like?”

“He’s a thin man. Not tall. Not short. He’s got a dark complexion.” 


“No. More like Asian or Middle Eastern. He’s wearing sunglasses and that same brown overcoat and a scarf. His hair is black and cut close to his scalp. His beard is very trim and cropped close to his face.” She exhales. I hear her take a quick, nervous sip of her wine. “He keeps staring at us. At me. Just like yesterday, Nick.”

“How do you know he’s staring at you? It could be something behind you, Grace. We’re in Venice. Lots going on behind you. Lots to see.”

She’s stirring in her chair. Agitated.

“Because I can feel him. His eyes…I. Feel. His. Eyes.”

I wipe my mouth clean with the cloth napkin. I do something entirely silly. I turn around in my chair to get a look at the man. As if I have the ability to see him right now, which I most definitely do not.

“What are you doing?” Grace poses, the anxiety in her voice growing more intense with each passing second.

“Trying to get a look at him.”

“You’re joking, Nick.”

I turn back, try and focus on her.

“You think?”

We sit silent.

Once more I am helpless and impotent.

“I’m sorry,” she says after a time. “I’m not trying to insult you. This isn’t like yesterday with the ring. But this man is at the same café we’re at two days in a row? This is really starting to creep me out, babe.”

My pulse begins to pump inside my head. Not rapid, but just enough for me to notice. Two steady drum beats against my temples. I find myself wanting to swallow, but my mouth has gone dry. I take a sip of beer thinking it will help. 

“He’s coming towards us, Nick. I don’t like it.”

Heart beat picks up. I feel it pounding inside my head and my chest.

“Are you sure he’s coming towards us, Grace?” I’m trying not to raise my voice, but it’s next to impossible.

“He’s looking right at me. His hands are stuffed in the pockets of his overcoat. And he’s coming.”

I feel and hear Grace pulling away from the table. She’s standing. That’s when the smell of incense sweeps over me. A rich, organic, incense-like smell.

There comes the sound of Grace standing. Abruptly standing. I hear her metal chair push out. I hear the sound of her boot heels on the cobbles. I hear the chair legs scraping against the stone slate. I hear the sound of her wine glass spilling.

“Grace, for God’s sakes, be careful.”

But she doesn’t respond to me. Or is it possible her voice is drowned out by what sounds like a tour group passing by the table? A tour group of Japanese speaking people. But once they pass, there is nothing. No sound at all other than the boats on the basin and the constant murmur of the thousands of tourists that fill this ancient square.

“Grace,” I say. “Grace. Stop it. This isn’t funny. Grace.”

But there’s still no response. The smell of incense is gone now. I make out the gulls flying over the tables, the birds shooting in from the basin to pick up scraps of food and then, like thieves in the night, shooting back out over the water. I can hear and feel the sound-wave driven music that reverberates against the stone cathedral.

“Grace,” I repeat, voice louder now. “Grace. Grace…Grace!”

I’m getting no response.

It’s like she’s gone. Vanished. But how can she be gone? She was just sitting here with me. She was sitting directly across from me, eating a sandwich and drinking a glass of wine. She was talking with me.

The waiter approaches.

“The signora is not liking her food?” he questions.

I reach out across the table. In the place where she was sitting. She is definitely not there.

“Is there a toilet close by?” I pose. “Did you see my fiancée leave the table and go to the toilet?”

The waiter pauses for a moment.

“I am sorry. But I did not. I was inside the café.”

“Then maybe somebody else saw her. Maybe you can ask them.”

“Signor, there are many tables in this café and they are all filled with people. And there are many people who walk amongst the tables who can block their view. I am looking at them. No one seems to be concerned about anything. Sometimes there are so many people here, it is easy to get lost. Perhaps she just went to the toilet like you just suggested, and she got lost amongst the people. I will come back in moment and make sure all is well.”

I listen to the waiter leaving, his footsteps fading against the slate.

Grace didn’t say anything about going to the toilet or anywhere else. Grace was frightened. She was frightened of a man who was staring at her. A man with sunglasses on and a cropped beard and a long brown overcoat. He was the man from yesterday. The man with black eyes. He was approaching us, this man. He came to our table and he smelled strongly of incense. He came to our table. There was a slight commotion, the spilling of a glass, the knocking over of a chair, and then Grace was gone.

I sit and stare at nothing. My heart is pounding so fast I think it will cease at any moment. What I have in the place of vision is a blank wall of blurry illumination no longer filled with the silhouette of my Grace.

I push out my chair. Stand. My legs knock into the table and my glass spills along with Grace’s.

I cup my hands around my mouth.

“Grace!” I shout. “Grace! Grace!”

The people who surround me all grow quiet as I scream over them.

The waiter comes running back over.

“Please, please,” he says to me, taking me by the arm. “Please come with me.”

He begins leading me through the throng of tables and people. He is what I have now in the place of Grace. He is my sight.

“She’s gone, isn’t she?” I beg. “Did you check the toilets?”

“We checked the toilets. They are empty. I am sorry. I am sure there is an explanation.”

“Grace is gone!” I shout. “A man took her away. How could no one have seen it?”

“You’re frightening the patrons, signor. Please just come with me and we will try and find her.”

“She’s gone,” I repeat. “Don’t you understand me? My. Grace. Is. Gone.”

My Book Review:

The Disappearance of Grace is a gripping psychological thriller that will keep you riveted on the edge of your seat as you turn the pages. Written in the first person narrative, author Vincent Zandri weaves a fascinating tale of one man's inner struggles of dealing with PTSD and intermittent blindness from his time served in Afghanistan. And if that isn't bad enough, his fiancee disappears from an outdoor cafe in Venice right in front of him and he didn't see it happen because of his blindness. Did Grace really disappear, or did she simply walk away from Nick? How will Nick search for Grace with his intermittent blindness? Did he have something to do with her disappearance? These and many more questions are what you will think about when you read The Disappearance of Grace!

From the very first page this story captivated my attention and I knew I was in for one heck of a roller coaster ride. Author Vincent Zandri has a masterful style of writing that draws the reader into Nick's story and the mystery of Grace's disappearance. Rich in detail and vivid descriptions, the plot grips you with its intense twists and turns, it keeps you in suspense and guessing what will happen next. The chapters are short quick reads with cliffhanger clues that beckon the reader to continue on to the next chapter, it is simply an addicting and suspenseful mystery thriller that will completely engage your imagination and provide you with an adrenaline rush.

I couldn't help but feel for Nick and his continuous ordeal of reliving his horrific time in Afghanistan. His flashbacks provide the reader with insight into his internal struggle and will leave your emotions raw and spent. I loved the balance of mystery and romance that is interwoven in the story, you can feel the love that Nick and Grace feel for each other, while they also struggle to deal with his infirmities, it is simply heart wrenching.

With realistic characters; engaging dialogue and interactions; and a riveting intense storyline that will keep you guessing until the end; The Disappearance of Grace is a compelling story that is a must read! This story is so haunting, it will resonate with you long after the last words have been read.



  1. Phenomenal review and post, as always. A NY Times caliber review!!!! Fantastic job!! Thank you!

    1. Hi Cheryl! Thank you for the opportunity to host this virtual book tour event. Thank you for the kind comment, I appreciate it. :)

  2. Thank you for this very well done review...

    1. Hi Vincent! I loved reading this book, it was simply amazing. I look forward to reading more of your books. Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host your virtual book tour event. :)