Review: The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker

A review of The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Swiss author Joel Dicker

“Only those familiar with the Hamptons, in New York State, knew what happened on July 30th, 1994,

in a small, swanky Oceanside resort called Orphea.” (Page 7)

It was opening night of the Orphea Theatre Festival. It was also the day that Meghan Padalin was shot in the back of the head and the Mayor of the town and his whole family was murdered. Was it a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for Meghan? Did she see something happen at the Mayor’s house which was across the street from where she was running?

Fast forward to June 23rd, 2014 which is the day that Captain Jesse Rosenberg is due to retire. At 45 he has decided to explore other opportunities before it becomes too late. It is a big blow to the local community as it was Rosenberg that solved the murder of the Mayor and his family back in 1994. Since that day, he has become somewhat of a celebrity around town.

But did he get it right?

Journalist Stephanie Mailer doesn’t believe so, and quite openly informs Rosenberg of this. She believes she has solid evidence that he is wrong but is not prepared to share any of this with him until she has met with her source; a source she is unprepared to disclose.

Unfortunately for Stephanie, the last time she is seen is at Rosenberg’s retirement party.

What has happened to her? Did she get too close to the truth? Has the killer come out of hiding after all these years?

Distressed and feeling responsible Rosenberg cannot settle and knows that, until this murder is resolved, he will be unable to retire from the force. But can he convince his old partner Derek, that there is a reason to reopen the supposedly solved case of 1994? Will his partner agree to work with him once again to bring justice to those that deserve it?

Was there undue pressure put on Rosenberg and Derek to solve the original case? Did they miss something of vital importance that meant they have convicted the wrong person? Did the time restrictions and pressure put upon them lead to them slacking on their investigation? Has all of this resulted in the recent disappearance of a savvy and intelligent young journalist who initially looked into the case thinking that she could turn the story into a book?

Anna Kanner is both intelligent and beautiful. When she was younger she thought she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. Driven, she went to university to study Law; it was the only thing she had ever wanted to do. She had her whole life planned out; knew exactly where her life was going. However, it wasn’t long before she became despondent with the legal system and billing hours so decided to quit and instead become a police officer, much to the dismay of her parents.

Since then, she has been married and divorced, again much to her parents disdain as they considered Mark, her then-husband to be the perfect partner for her and is now working in what her mother terms as a ‘one-horse town’, and so far, hasn’t even been promoted to Police Chief yet.

Could this case be the big break Anna needs to make her mark on the town?

With the old partnership of Derek and Jesse back on the case with the added benefit of having new insights from Anna, it seems that the team are uncovering far more than the initial investigation ever did.

The further the three of them seem to dig for answers, the more they discover about the well-heeled individuals calling Orphea home. On the outside, this may look like the perfect little sleepy town where only wholesome citizens reside, but as Anna, Derek and Jesse discover, not everything is always as it seems.

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker

Have you read anything by Joel Dicker?

My Thoughts on The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer

As soon as I heard that Joel Dicker, author of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, had a new book out I knew it had to be added to my reading list.

Firstly, I do need to stress that Joel Dicker’s writing isn’t for everyone. The author himself writes in French which means they are translated into English and the result, for some, is that his writing style can be a bit slow and tedious. I don’t agree with this, but I am a reader who enjoys detailed storylines and in-depth descriptions.

Friends recommended The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair to me a couple of years back and I consumed the 624 pages in a matter of days so I thought the same would happen again with this one. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Do not get me wrong, the story is extremely well written if not a bit slow. Whereas the first book of Dicker’s needed the extra details in order for the story to feel complete, I did feel that this one dragged in places.

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

That is not to say, I regretted reading it but I feel that my expectations clouded my thoughts on this one. If I had read The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer before The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, I honestly believe my final thoughts would have been very different.

It is a well-written tome of a novel, but for those that prefer a hard-hitting, fast-paced crime story, I am not sure it would be for you. The fact that many have compared this young writer to the likes of Nabokov and Roth suggests that his writing is more of a modern classic than anyone perhaps yet recognises.

In my opinion, he does indeed write like someone who lived many years ago and has clearly adopted their style of formal language and impeccable sentence structure. Joel has clearly perfected his craft and it is easy to see that he spends a great deal of time researching his storylines to make sure of their accuracy. His crime writing, for me at least, is a more believable reflection on what a true-life crime investigation would look like. I often feel that several popular crime novels sensationalise violent storylines in order to keep readers gripped. If anything, Joel’s writing manifests reality with the length of his books being symbolic of how lengthy investigations can often be.

Have you read The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer? Perhaps you have read another book by the award-winner author and have an opinion you would like to share with us.

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A full and honest review of The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer via @tbookjunkie. This is a crime novel that one day will become a classic.

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