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The Disappearing Act

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Member Reviews

Mia Eliot is a star on the rise. After conquering her native England, she takes a trip across the pond to audition for bigger and better roles. When she meets fellow actress Emily, a simple favor turns into much more. Can Mia find the missing Emily, and will she find herself in danger?

Hollywood is a great setting for a thriller, so I was really excited for this book! I enjoyed seeing Mia on the precipice of fame - with all the possibilities open to her, still innocent but quickly learning that Hollywood is full of sharks. Some of her actions seemed completely nonsensical - come on girl, get a clue! It was fun to follow her misadventures and see her get herself into lots of scrapes.

I enjoyed the mystery of Emily's disappearance, and I didn't guess the big reveal at the end. I think Steadman did a good job building up suspense - this is not a mile a minute thriller, but rather a puzzle that slowly increases in complexity before divulging its secrets. I think this is a good fit for readers who like Hollywood and the lifestyles of the rich and famous - it's a good book to read in one sitting on vacation!

Thank you to Ballantine Books for providing an ARC on NetGalley in exchange for ah honest review. 

Review posted to Goodreads and Instagram on 6/9/21.
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Definitely my favorite book by Catherine Steadman. This one grabbed me from page one while the others didn't.
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The Disappearing Act is good thriller if you want to get your mind off of things. It was bit too predictable for me as most of the clues were presented to you at the beginning of the story; you just wait until they resurface. I was hoping to find that plot twist, that a-ha moment, but it never came. More than being a thriller, I think it more served for the purpose of "Hollywood is a trap and it's one of the ugliest industries in the world".

Don't get me wrong! I finished it in one sitting, but i wanted something bit more. I wanted to know why Mia would get involved in the situation because you cannot be this nice or this reckless to possibly throw away everything you have dreamt of. I wanted to know why we had that story of stalker at the beginning of the story because I didn't get the purpose. I wanted to know how someone beloved can disappear and no would really know what's up when her name is floating around everywhere. I wanted to know what it takes to be heard. 

If you are interested in fast-paced Hollywood dream story turned bad (or maybe not so bad after all), you'd like this book. Especially if true crime is your favorite pastime, you'll find a lot instances where you scream "nooooo girl!"
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Mia Eliot's life is a mess. Her career is taking off, but her personal life is another story. 

Taking a risk, she hops on a plane and heads for Los Angeles for pilot season. She wants to try her hand in Hollywood and see if her career will continue to take off. Day after day, read after read, Mia stays overwhelmed, She's amazed at the differences in the world of American and British acting. 

At one audition, Mia meets a woman named Emily, who is also from out of town and is just too kind. The woman hit it off and Mia offers to do her a simple favor.  Now the real Emily is missing... and the woman who shows up claiming to be her is not what she seems. How far will Mia's quest to find the real Emily take her? Will she survive?
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I loved the author's debut novel..  Did not care for the followup.  With this one the author is back in the groove.  I am a sucker for the movie industry so that certainly helped.  Interesting story with a denouement I did not see coming.
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I thought the beginning of this book was a bit slow, but I’m glad I kept reading. I needed to find out if Mia was going to thrive in LA after her breakup with George. The middle was filled with twists and turns and the mystery of Emily Bryant was creative and made me question Mia even meeting her in the first place. The ending was a bit predictable. Very enjoyable and fast read!  
Thank you NetGalley and Ballantine Books for this ARC!
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Actress Mia Eliot has been working in London for years, and things are about to break open for her. Her latest role in the film Eyre (she played Jane) has put her on the map. There is even talk of a BAFTA nomination. So her agent tells her that this is a good time to take her act on the road, to spend some time in Hollywood for the big pilot season, which is when producers film television pilots to try to sell to the studios. 

Mia’s agent in England has been in touch with an agent in the states, and they already have several auditions lined up for her, as well as an apartment and a car. All she has to do it pack her bags and fly across the ocean to California. 

Mia finds the idea of that easier than she expected when she realizes that her longtime boyfriend has a new acting job that’s about to start in New York City. He hadn’t even told her that he’d been cast in anything new, but Mia realizes that he didn’t say anything about it because it also stars his new girlfriend, a younger actress who is also a social media star. Mia loves the idea of getting out of town for a while, to get away from everyone who knows George and who would want to talk about the breakup. 

When she lands in Los Angeles, her drab London life is whisked away. She is given an Audi to drive for the time she’s there. She’s given an apartment to stay in with a parking valet and 24/7 security. The apartment has a view of the whole city, including the iconic Hollywood sign, where an actress once jumped to her death after being rejected for a film role she had wanted. 

Mia prepares for her auditions, swims in the rooftop pool, and tires to stop Instagram stalking her ex and his new girlfriend. She nails the first audition and feels confident. She goes to her second audition, and she strikes up an easy conversation with another actor up for the same role, Emily. Emily is worried about her parking meter, thinking it’s about to run out of time, so she tells Mia that she can head in to the audition first. But Mia wants a few more minutes to prepare, so she offers to add money to Emily’s meter while Emily goes in to audition. Emily agrees to this and hands Mia the keys to her rental car and her wallet. 

Mia uses Emily’s credit card to feed the meter, and then gest ready to head in to the audition room. She doesn’t see Emily before she goes in. But the audition goes well, in part because she took those extra minutes to prepare. And when she walks out of the room, she still doesn’t see Emily. She looks around, she goes to the car (still in the same parking spot), asks the receptionist—still no Emily. Mia leaves a note at reception with her cell number so Emily can contact her to get her wallet and keys back, and heads to her own car. On the way, she stops by Emily’s car one more time, and that’s where she meets the handsome American who asks her if everything is okay. 

He says his name is Nick and that he’d seen her acting strangely from the office he’d been in. Mia explains that Emily had disappeared earlier from the audition and she was wondering what to do with her things. She finally decides to add more time to the meter and head home for the night, hoping to hear from her soon. 

Emily spends the next couple of days getting ready for more auditions and meeting up with a couple of friends who were in L.A. She talks to Nick about the situation and he ends up asking her out for dinner. And then finally, Emily contacts her. She apologizes for disappearing and sets up a time to come pick up her keys and wallet. Mia is so relieved, and can’t wait for her to come and gather her things. There’s just one problem with the young brunette actress who comes to pick up Emily’s car keys and wallet. 

The woman isn’t Emily.

She looks a little like her. She definitely acts like her. But it’s not the same woman that Mia had met days ago at that audition. 

Mia hands over the keys and wallet anyway, not at all certain what to do. 

Mia tries to focus on her career, especially for the very important meeting with a producer who wants to talk to her about a movie that could change her life. But she’s distracted. She tries to call the police, and they do a welfare check on Emily, and they report back that they talked to her and she’s okay. But then Mia realizes that she doesn’t know if they talked to the Emily she had met at the audition or the woman pretending to be Emily who picked up the keys from her. 

Then her emails start disappearing. Things in her apartment are moved from where she put them. She can’t tell if this is really happening to her, or if she’s somehow losing her mind. Just how far will she have to go to put her mind to ease about an actress she met for just a few minutes one day? 

The Disappearing Act is the third novel from Catherine Steadman, and the first one where she relies so heavily on her own experiences as an actor. The Hollywood scenes in this novel feel authentic, like someone really in the know about show business is offering us a peek at the experience of auditioning and preparing and dealing with the drama of the town. 

I absolutely loved this novel. I loved that inside look at the life of an actor, but even more than that I was so impressed by Steadman’s ability to create a sense of tension throughout this story, a sense of possible danger at every turn, the anxiety of possible danger from one chapter to the next. There is really not all that much violence in most of this story, but that sense of suspense was so prescient that I had trouble putting the book down. I needed to find out what happened. And I was not disappointed by the ending. 

The Disappearing Act is a classy psychological thriller, cashmere and luxury and constant disquiet, and I am all in. Get yourself a big bowl of popcorn and some wine and take a trip to Los Angeles, to find out what it’s really like inside show business, how dangerous it can be just to show up for an audition in a roomful of actors who look remarkably similar to you. 

Egalleys for The Disappearing Act were provided by Random House Publishing Group—Ballentine Books through NetGalley, with many thanks.
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Solid “Eh” rating. 

It wasn’t good, wasn’t bad and it surely wasn’t unique but it was still thrilling and enchanting.

I would count this as a beach read, it was light enough and the twists and turns are low key enough for a beach read.

I had high hopes because thrillers have been getting a lot of “eh” ratings lately.

It should be compared more to “Woman in the Widow” than “gone girl”
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I received an ARC of this puzzling story.   An actress goes for an audition and becomes tangled in a complex web of deception.  Could not put it down!
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Each of Catherine Steadman's thrillers has been very different from the others. Something in the Water -- a couple in Bora Bora make a chilling discovery. Mr. Nobody --  a British neuropsychiatrist has a mysterious (perhaps even creepy) patient. I was impressed with the authenticity of detail in that second book -- but it was utterly eclipsed by the immersion treatment we readers get in The Disappearing Act.

You see, Catherine-Steadman-the-author is also Catherine-Steadman-the-actress, and the specifics of that latter craft are thick in this book, from vocabulary to etiquette to perks and neuroses, we get the full-on Hollywood treatment.

Mia is a British actress who has a chance to escape from wintry London and a failed love affair to Hollywood for "pilot season," which came across as a professional hazing with cutthroat stakes. She finds that her profession is a bit less professional on this continent, and she is definitely unimpressed with the tinselly aspects of Tinseltown.

Other reader/reviewers have debated whether this is a thriller or a mystery. I've been told that a mystery is when the crime occurs at the beginning, and a thriller is when the story builds toward the crime. That definition doesn't help in this case, since no one -- least of all Mia -- knows whether or not a crime has been committed.

I likes Mia's sense of decency, which made her seem naive amongst the cynicism and narcissism of Los Angeles. There were a few instances when Britishisms found their way into the speech of the Californians (I don't think I've ever heard an American compliment someone on "scrubbing up well.") 

Overall, though, I'd say that with The Disappearing Act, Steadman goes three-for-three. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an advance readers copy.
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This is the second book I have read by Catherine Steadman, and for the most part it was an enjoyable experience.

British actress Mia Eliot is in Hollywood for pilot season, when L.A. is full of aspiring and well known actors all trying out for the various parts in upcoming TV and movies. While at an audition,  Mia starts chatting with fellow actress Emily, who realizes her parking is about to expire and she needs to feed the parking meter. Mia offers to do that for her, but on her return, Emily has disappeared, leaving Mia with her car keys and wallet.

Mia attempts to track down Emily in various ways, and when Emily reappears at Mia's apartment to collect her belongings, Mia realizes that the person in front of her is not the Emily she met...

What I enjoyed about the book was the inside view of the Hollywood pilot season, and the cut throat way that LA works. Not surprising that this was written so well, given that Catherine Steadman is herself an accomplished actress. I also could really feel the despair of Mia as she begins to realize that no one else is looking for Emily. 

I found some of Emily's behavior incomprehensible however. While I understand she was naive, she continued to put herself in danger and behave in ways that didn't seem to make much sense, to try and find someone she hardly knew. 

There were several twists and turns towards the end that I didn't see coming, and overall it was a good read.
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Mia, an actress from London, is new to LA and auditioning for various roles. Her boyfriend just left her for someone else, and she’s immersing herself in work. While at an audition, Mia meets a woman named Emily. The two of them talk, and Emily reels Mia into helping her out by giving her her keys and wallet to pay her meter while she auditions. After Mia helps out this stranger, she can’t find her. Finally she manages to reach out to Emily days later, and when she comes to pick up her belongings, it’s not the woman Mia remembers from the audition. 

This twisty psychological thriller follows Mia’s path to finding who Emily really is, and what happened to her. I absolutely loved this book and was totally engaged throughout! A highly recommend this novel! 

Happy Pub Day!! Thank you Net Galley , Catherine Steadman, and Ballantine Books for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Steadman follows Something in the Water and Mr. Nobody with a psychological thriller about a British actress who comes to Hollywood to audition for some movies. She recently broke up with a long-term live-in boyfriend and needs something new in her life. What she gets is not only great auditions but also worry about an actress who left Mia holding her wallet and car keys at an audition. And now someone is sneaking into Mia’s very secure apartment. Not only is it creepy for Mia, it will send shivers down the back of readers as they try to puzzle out what happened to the missing actress. And in finding the solution, not only does Mia find Hollywood to be very cutthroat as aspiring actors aspire for stardom, but she finds love.
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Really great and interesting story. These are always my favorite kinds of psychological thrillers. When it bridges that line between obsession and perfection.
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The Disappearing Act is Catherine Steadman's third novel.  I have now read all three and have enjoyed each one to varying degrees. The Disappearing Act is a fun novel that held my interest well.  In fact, I read the whole second half in one sitting just because I was dying find out what was going on.  I love that because the author is already a successful actress, this novel's setting-the movie/tv acting world- FEELS like the reader is getting a real peak into that world....a place we typically only see through tabloid news shows and magazines.

Mia is an up-and-coming British actress who has just had a breakout role in a rendition of Jane Eyre.  Unfortunately, just as she is achieving professional success, her personal life has taken a very public, embarrassing blow, when her long-time boyfriend leaves her for another successful actress.  This event gives the public plenty to talk about, but unfortunately he only send Mia a briefly worded text to explain.

Embarrassed and lonely, Mia decides to head to America, specifically the entertainment mecca of Los Angeles, during premier season to try to get a role away from the drama in London. At one audition, she meets another actress named Emily, who she seems to connect with enough that when Emily asks Mia to go put money in her meter for her car, Mia does so, if a bit hesitantly.  After doing that favor, Emily seemingly disappears, leaving her car keys with Mia.  Mia gets a bit obsessed with trying to track Emily down and in the process finds herself in a mystery when a few days later, someone shows up at her apartment claiming to be Emily, but whom is clearly NOT the same Emily Mia had met at the audition.   The more Mia looks into the situation, the more tangled the web becomes....involving a #MeToo storyline, and the dark side of Hollywood.

To be clear, there are MANY implausibilities in the plot of The Disappearing Act.  However, I didn't feel they were so distracting as to rob me of any of the fun of the story.  It is fast-paced and intriguing.  It would be a perfect beach read.
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This a fun, thrill ride. But it always made me, as a reader, uneasy, as I was reading it. In this story we meet Mia, a British actress who has come to Hollywood to read for some movies/tv shows. During one of her auditions she meets Emily. This is when the book takes a turn…things with Emily are weird. She ends of disappearing, but then showing back up. BUT…Mia doesn’t recognize this new person that claims to be Emily. From there this plot picks up and grabs the reader by the throat. This is a perfect summer beach read! I also can’t help but note some parallel of the character Mia to the author Steadman herself. There is also a hint of mysterious “Muholland Drive” vibes in this novel. Overall, this is an eerie, fun read. I think this will be a home run for the author. Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I liked this book a lot. It drew me in immediately and kept me reading all day until I finished it. Mia is a likable character yet niave to a fault. I had to suspend belief at times (would a person go to such lengths to help out someone she didn't know, and how did she know which was the real Emily) but yet I had to keep reading to find out how it ended. Thanks to Netgalley for the advance reader copy in return for a fair review.
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{Excerpt from my full review on Bookstagram}

I’m a big fan of when a book demands my attention from the jump and this one started pretty slow for me; I am glad I stuck with it though because about a third of the way in, it felt like the stage lights came on and didn’t dim until the very end. Let me let y’all in on a little secret, the plot of The Disappearing Act was so mind-boggling that it had my brain feeling like a soup sandwich. Some parts felt a bit far-fetched to me but being that I am nowhere near the status of an L.A. celebrity, I’ll chalk that up to ignorance.This star-studded thriller was made for reading with your toes in the sand and a cocktail in hand but make sure you stay seated for the entire performance because it will rock your world
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I've loved Catherine Steadman's previous books because they keep you guessing what is really going on until the very end, and this one was the same. Mia heads to Los Angeles for a few weeks of auditions, and at one she meets and agrees to do a favor for Emily. That soon turns into a mess, and Mia spends tons of time trying to figure out where Emily went, why, how, etc. Everyone Mia interacts with raises her suspicions. At the same time, she's having meetings and screen testing for the role of a lifetime. I could barely put this down, I wanted to find out what happened to Emily and how Mia would end up. Great book, would make a good vacation read.
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I love books that take you into a world you didn't know well and speak with inside knowledge. When I read mysteries, I read those that can do that for me. I've read books about locksmiths, about diamond dealers, about casinos - it's fun to follow the mystery but even more fun to get an insider's perspective into a closed-off world. 

This is one of those great books. Author Steadman speaks with authority and knowledge, and is a great guide though the jungles known as pilot season. That a compelling mystery is interwoven is even more delightful.
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