[ARC Review] The Artist Vanishes by Terry Westby-Nunn

3 Things About This Book
| Mystery Novel with Literary Fiction Vibes | Dual POV | Commentary on the Interdependence of Art and the Social-Cultural |

The Artist Vanishes by Terry Westby-Nunn
Published: 2021 by Penguin Random House
Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Book Depository

A mystery with major literary fiction vibesThe Artist Vanishes is a story told in dual perspectives—Sophie’s prior to her disappearance, and James’ after she has disappeared. The former is a controversial artist who just happened to tick all the right boxes. Thus, rising to fame only for it to bring her downfall and then, her vanishing. The latter is an alcoholic divorcee and documentary filmmaker who unwittingly moves into Sophie’s old apartment and gets convinced by his daughter to do a film on Sophie. 

This dual-narrative with alternating timelines allows us to have insight into both main characters and for a more holistic story. However, while I appreciate it, I also have to admit that it both works and doesn’t work. The pacing for both POVs is slightly different—with Sophie’s often feeling rushed or filler-ish compared to James’. Nevertheless, I understand this is because the tension and answers are on her side and to make her chapters less disjointed could risk unveiling those answers way too early in the story. 

What I enjoyed most from this book is its commentary on the interdependence of art and the social-cultural, and the portrayal of all that’s involved in the creative scene. These aspects were well when into the story, providing all the good, the bad and the neutral on one dining table as food for thought.

The book also touches on the complexity and contradictions of the things that shape who a person is and how they live their life and the desire for acceptance and acknowledgement. These other aspects come to life in Sophie’s POV, which made me feel for her. In comparison, they felt more shallow in James. I didn’t particularly care for him outside of the times he was actively putting together the pieces to Sophie’s disappearance. Honestly, the way he lusted after practically every female he came across was disgusting. I get that it’s his character but yeah, not pleasant to read.

Everything considered, The Artist Vanishes is a solid read. Though the answers to the mystery are rather obvious, the mystery still (largely) worked well with the narrative, and it gets solved in a satisfying way. The open ending threw me off a little since it felt so anticlimactic after everything, but it’s not bad.

If you’re a fan of literary fiction and would love for it to have elements of thrillers or mystery in it, this book is one you’ve got to give a go. 

Thank you so much Penguin Books and Netgalley for providing me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!



2 thoughts on “[ARC Review] The Artist Vanishes by Terry Westby-Nunn

  1. I always enjoy your thoughtful reviews of more literary-fiction-type titles! This one in particular strikes a nice balance between going at the themes and untangling how they’re executed with the POVs/character building. I honestly know next to nothing about thrillers, but I love the way you unpack them! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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