disappearing act catherine steadman
Book Review / Catherine Steadman / Reviews with Spoilers

Catherine Steadman | The Disappearing Act

disappearing act cathering steadman

The Book: 

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman, 2021

The Characters: 

Her new friend Emily

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Get it on Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Once a year, actors from across the globe descend on the smog and sunshine of Los Angeles for pilot season. Every cable network and studio is looking to fill the rosters of their new shows, enticing a fresh batch of young hopefuls, anxious, desperate and willing to do whatever it takes to make it. Careers will be made, dreams will be realized, stars will be born. And some will be snuffed out.

British star Mia Eliot has landed leading roles in costume dramas in her native country, but now it’s time for Hollywood to take her to the next level. Mia flies across the Atlantic to join the hoard of talent scrambling for their big breaks. She’s a fish out of water in the ruthlessly competitive and faceless world of back-to-back auditioning. Then one day she meets Emily, another actress from out of town and a kindred spirit. Emily is friendly and genuine and reassuringly doesn’t seem to be taking any of it too seriously. She stands out in a conveyor-belt world of fellow auditionees. But a simple favor turns dark when Emily disappears and Mia realizes she was the last person to see her, and the woman who knocks on Mia’s door the following day claiming to be her new friend isn’t the woman Mia remembers at all.

All Mia has to go on is the memory of a girl she met only once . . . and the suffocating feeling that something terrible has happened. Worse still, the police don’t believe her when she claims the real Emily has gone missing. So Mia is forced to risk the role of a lifetime to try to uncover the truth about Emily, a gamble that will force her to question her own sanity as the truth goes beyond anything she could ever have imagined.

Click here for book spoilers for The Disappearing Act
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Disappearing Act, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist:

Emily was dead before Mia arrived in LA. She was drugged and raped by producers but had recorded it, and when she tried to blackmail the men with the recording they kidnapped and killed her. Her friend Marla was posing as her to freak out the men that killed her and to further her acting career. Marla was who Mia met and was chasing the whole time. 

Marla had staged a meeting with Mia at a rehearsal since they were both going after the same role. She had been promised the role by blackmailing the same men with the recordings Emily took and with Emily’s death. Marla went through Mia’s phone to get her address and stole her key card, and she was the one sneaking into Mia’s apartment. It was all to keep Mia from getting the part. 

Mia followed Marla up onto the Hollywood sign, under the guise of taking her to see Emily. How naive can you get? Of course she was going to try to kill her. Luckily Mia had brought Nick’s gun. They scuffled, Marla fell and presumably died. 

The Ending:

Mia goes back to London and Nick follows. Three months later she gets a text from Marla, and then two years later she sees her on screen. Somehow she survived the fall. They both kept their deal to not tell anyone about the other.

The Review: 

Before starting this book I didn’t realize that Catherine Steadman is an actress as well as an author, which certainly gives her good perspective for The Disappearing Act! Color me impressed, because Something in the Water and Mr. Nobody were both amazing, and had nothing to do with acting.

The Disappearing Act was a very quick read for me. I was drawn in by descriptions of Mia’s high-flying lifestyle, and kept interested by the mystery. The author did a great job of describing the feeling of being alone in a new city, and the creepy feeling that someone has been touching your things. I loved the insider look into Hollywood life and the rush of pilot season.

I didn’t love how Mia was portrayed. She’s very much the dumb tourist–who leaves their purse unattended? Twice in one day?? I didn’t find it realistic that a woman in this day and age would blindly trust a man she met on the street. 

Mia was likable, but the way she was written into the story didn’t do her character justice, if that makes sense. I enjoyed her dialogue but not her choices. I was on her side, even though I rolled my eyes at some (lots) of her actions.

Overall, a very enjoyable read, but not quite as mind-blowing as I remember her previous two novels being.

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