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The Vanishing Hardcover – August 24, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 108 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (August 24, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067941973X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679419730
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Published in the Netherlands in 1984, this devastating exercise in psychological horror was the basis for an acclaimed Dutch film and a recent American remake that may have prompted the novel's long-overdue publication in English. Veteran Dutch author Krabbe works with an economy that only reinforces the terror inspired by his scarifying tale. En route from Holland to a vacation in the South of France, freelance writer Rex Hofman and his girlfriend Saskia Ehlvest bicker, make up and stop at a gas station, where Saskia goes to get soft drinks and never returns. Eight years later, Rex is engaged to be married, though he still feels helpless and desolated and remains obsessed with the disappearance. Almost halfway through the book, Krabbe introduces Frenchman Raymond Lemorne, a married high school teacher whose attempts to abduct a young woman are shown but not explained. Responding to ads placed by Rex in French newspapers, Lemorne first writes and then visits the bereaved man, using Rex's by-now-crazed curiosity to lure him to France. The decidedly unhappy ending makes use of a shocking twist. The portrait of Lemorne, who shoots two teenage campers to death then calmly resumes his role as an indulgent paterfamilias, is a chilling study of the banality of evil. This deceptively simple novel packs a wallop that will send readers reeling. Author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this finely wrought short novel, Dutch author Krabbe captures the texture of nightmares. A couple motoring in southern France stop at a roadside station; the woman heads off to the ladies' room. The man never sees her again. Years later, a stranger approaches him. The stranger admits to kidnapping her; he promises to show what happened to her if the young man puts himself in the stranger's hand. The evolution of the kidnapper from normality to madness is skillfully depicted; family and neighbors detect no hint of the monster he has become. This is a cunningly efficient tale of obsession, told in a flat, disinterested tone that makes the horror it narrates all the more chilling. A good Dutch film was made from this story; an American remake with Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland has just appeared. Recommended for general collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/92.
- David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Geert Daelemans on March 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Rex Hofmann and his girlfriend Saskia Ehlvest, a young Dutch couple, are on their way to the South of France. At a Fina gas station they stop to stretch their legs and have something to drink. Waiting for his girlfriend to return, Rex decides to take a picture of the gas station. He does not know that this picture will be the only clue as to what happened to Saskia at that same moment. Years later he still cannot comprehend her disappearance and embarks on an obsessive search for her.
This rather short story has a really sharp edge to it. The very well written plot builds up to suspenseful finale, where the reader is enticed to a dance with his own conscience: Can not knowing the truth become an obsession that drives you to the extreme? One thing is certain: this story will not leave your mind easily. It is a disturbing little bugger, but one you cannot but love for its genuineness.
This novella, written in 1984 by the Dutch writer Tim Krabbe, is titled "Het gouden ei" (The Golden Egg) and has been made into a Dutch movie "Spoorloos" (Untraceable) in 1988. This movie is sometimes even more disturbing that the original story, because the scenario, also written by Tim, is more elaborate and the characters seem to have obtained more depth. In 1993 an American remake "The Vanishing" was created, starring Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland, Nancy Travis and Sandra Bullock. But, believe me: you better skip this monster of a movie.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The book, The Vanishing, is a gripping, easy to read story about the formation of intense obsession and how it drives two men in their separate quests. Rex Hofman is a man who is deeply obsessed with trying to find out what happened to his girlfriend, who disappeared at a gas station during their vacation. This obsession is fueled by the intense need to know what happened to her, and it takes over his life, making it impossible for him to maintain relationships with other women. Raymond Lemorne, on the other hand, is a seemingly normal family man who wants to determine the extent of his evilness. When the obsessions of these men bring them together, the ending produced is unforgettable and truly disturbing. It is a unique ending for those who are tired of the predictability that is found in many suspense stories and it explores the limits of how far one will go to find the truth.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By vendrig@worldonline.nl on February 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Krabbe wrote an amazing, unorthodox story. The book is one of the most horrifying I ever read, but at the same time it's a beautiful love story. A real pageturner and something to think about. One can really empathize in the main character's feelings. When he's about to make a deal with the 'devil', the reader feels the same dilemma: take the risk and find out the truth, or live in the agony of ignorance. But in fact there is no other choice than to turn to the next page.
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Format: Hardcover
While both movies adapted from this work would not exist without the novel, this is one of the rare instances in which a movie is better than the novel. In fact, I think that both movies are superior to the book. The most interesting part of this novel, however, resides in the middle section, in which the reader follows the thought processes of the killer. But because the novel is barely more than 100 pages long, I would suggest that any fans of the movie(s) give this novel a chance. Perhaps some of the problem with the novel comes from the translation, but it's hard to say without being able to read the original Dutch version.
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Format: Paperback
I liked the way the plot was developed. I also liked the back and forth of the story line and the way the story took such large leaps in time as if there was really only like 3 days that mattered to the story.

People who go on and on about the ending being so horrific obviously never saw a horror movie and those that thought the final aspect of the tale was so incredible and new and fresh, as in never done before, obviously never read Poe or any of the other great writers of suspense, especially the old comics and magazines. The ending has been done a hundred times.

Since reading "The Vanishing" I've read "The Cave" and "The Delay" and I got the impression that a Krabbè tale seem to follow the standard plot lines of many books and movies that I have come across in my lifetime. As I read his books I am constantly questioning if a particular film, even ones I knew were much older than the book, had lifted their plots or sections of same from his writing. An example is the film "Breakdown" which seems like an exact copy of "The Vanishing" with a happy ending.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christian Engler on July 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
Near Dijon, France, Rex Hofman and Saskia Ehlvest-his love interest-are heading to a hotel in Nuits-St. Georges in Burgundy; they are on vacation. After a brief spat while on the road, they pull into a gas station called TOTAL and make up. Saskia plans to drive the second leg of their trip, but before she does so, she needs to do a bathroom and drink break. Affectionally, she wants to buy a soda for herself and a beer for Rex, the latter being a researcher and journalist whose speciality seems to be directed more towards the sciences. While Saskia heads into the gas station, Rex waits in line at the pumps to tank up his car. When done, he parks the car and keeps himself entertained with some light exercise and whatnot. In that period, he is overcome by a sense of bliss at how lucky he is to have a woman like Saskia as his girlfriend, for she is definitely marriage material. However, as time passes, Saskia does not return to him, and he wonders where the heck she is. Searching frantically throughout the gas station, Saskia has totally vanished, and her whereabouts are unknown. This sends Rex on an eight-year odyssey that consumes him not only financially but mentally as well. He does a media blitzkrieg of a campaign which yields no clues; people tell him that she probably left and is simply living another life. He does not buy it, and so he embarks on a maddening journey that involves "witnesses" and psychics. Even his current girlfriend, Lieneke, who knows of Rex's heartbreaking past, cannot pull him away from his maddening desire to know what happened to his missing girlfriend, Saskia, for it is the not knowing that is killing him.

Quietly lurking in the background is another man; his name Raymond Lemorne, a loving spouse and father of two adoring daughters.
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