Scott Heim, We Disappear, Harper Perennial 2008.
The body of a teenage boy is discovered in a Kansas field. The murder haunts Donna—a recent widow battling cancer—calling forth troubling details from long-suppressed memories of her past. Hoping to discover more about "disappeared" people, she turns to her son, Scott, who is fighting demons of his own. Addicted to methamphetamines and sleeping pills, Scott is barely holding on—though the chance to help his mother in her strange and desperate search holds out a slim promise of some small salvation.
But what he finds is a boy named Otis handcuffed in a secret basement room, and the questions that arise seem too disturbing even to contemplate. With his mother’s health rapidly deteriorating, he must surrender to his own obsession, and unravel Otis’s unsettling connections to other missing teens . . . and, ultimately, to Scott himself.
The Backroad Librarian sums up a very insightful review thus: “with We Disappear he has created a work of subtle, eerie potency.” I agree. The novel successfully combines American Gothic with documentary realism – not only about rural Kansas but also about gay life and drug life in the cities.
The edition I read features a “P.S.” of considerable interest.