Psychological Suspense

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman Review

Mia Elliot just got dumped by her long-term, live-in boyfriend via text. What’s worse? Her lazy boyfriend, who’s always been in Mia’s shadow in the acting industry, has suddenly nabbed a coveted role and cozied up to his much-younger costar. Wounded, Mia flies from London to LA for pilot season. Ready to drown her insecurities in work and hopefully grab an even flashier part than her ex. Something to get the media to stop splashing her humiliation across its entertainment pages.

And the City of Angels seems to offer just the thing, the part of a lifetime. All very hush-hush. Mia has to sign an NDA to receive even a few pages from the script. What Mia needs now is to throw herself headfirst into the audition process. But when a chance encounter at a separate audition leads to a chance encounter with fellow actress Emily — a woman who begs Mia to feed the meter on her car only to promptly disappear without a trace — Mia finds herself thrown into an investigation she really doesn’t have time for… but somehow also cannot seem to escape.

The Disappearing Act is Steadman’s third novel and another solid piece of crime fiction. Steadman knows how to hook the reader and keep the suspense sustained. At times, suspension of disbelief needs to be flexed beyond reasonable bounds (an apartment key card disappears from a handbag, yet must have accidentally dropped and no newly programmed key card is requested? is just one of a few examples). Still, there’s something so entertaining about the way this thriller is told (Mia’s quest to figure out what really happened to Emily, the LA acting scene) that these instances are easily forgiven.

What’s more to love: An actress herself, Steadman brings a rare element of realism to the pages of this psychological thriller that genuinely brings the story to life. There’s something about this book that simply sings. As readers, we feel like we’re there with Mia as she drives onto a movie lot and auditions in front of distracted casting agents only to blow them away every time. Is this what the life of most actors is like? Doubtful. But it sure does feel like it. The Disappearing Act oozes mystery and Hollywood glamour, and that feeling is what it’s all about, isn’t it? 

An entertaining psychological mystery that will keep you hooked and guessing right until its highly satisfying end.


Book: The Disappearing Act
Published: Simon Schuster
Pages: 312
Publication Date: June 24th, 2021
Stars: 4/5

Jonathan Ball Publishers kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.

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