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The Missing Mass Market Paperback – Sep 5 2007

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (Sept. 5 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060872918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060872915
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.6 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #395,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In her second novel, Langan delivers a powerhouse creepfest that recalls, in the best way possible, the early work of Stephen King. Corpus Christi, Maine, was once a town of affluence, but since the mysterious paper mill fire in the neighboring town of Bedford (depicted in last year's well-received debut, The Keeper) released dense sulfuric clouds that killed the surrounding forest, Corpus Christi has been in steady decline. When fourth-grade teacher Lois Larkin takes her class on a field trip to the now-abandoned Bedford, they're exposed to a deadly virus that transforms the infected into ravenous, flesh-eating monsters. Rather than stick to zombie lit convention (mindless undead, endless chases), Langan invests her plague with a sinister intelligence of unknown origin, maintaining a skin-crawling tension as the vivid cast of characters succumb to murderous insanity, hunting down and tearing apart animals, neighbors and loved ones. Langan has the control of a pro, parsing just enough horrific details to allow the truly gruesome scenes to play out unbound in the imagination; this solid sophomore effort proves that The Keeper's disturbing ability to burrow into readers' heads and stay there was no fluke. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Langan has the control of a pro….” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“A genuine creepfest that recalls, in the best way possible, the early work of Stephen King” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Langan has crafted a grisly horror story that will keep you out of the woods for years to come.” (BookPage)

“Langan has a sharp eye for the small vivid details of American life, and her characters are utterly believable.” (London Times on The Keeper)

“...innovative, sharp, and absolutely chilling...” (Brian Keene, Bram Stoker Award winning author of Ghoul and Dead Sea)

“THE MISSING is reminiscent of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot with wicked drops of Koontz, Barker, and Straub.” (J.C. Patterson)

“[THE MISSING is] as engrossing as a dagger poised at one’s throat.” (J.C. Patterson)

“An astonishing first novel...chilling, haunting, and so smartly written that the pages fly by like the wind.” (Ray Garton, author of THE LOVELIEST DEAD)

“THE KEEPER kept me up, late into the night...I’m hoping for a whole shelf of novels by Langan.” (Kelly Link, author of MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS)

“[A] brilliant debut, heralding the arrival of a major talent.” (Tim Lebbon, author of DUSK and BERSERK)

“A smart, brand-new take on the haunted house story…hard to believe this is a first novel.” (Jack Ketchum, author of OFFSPRING)

“[A] distinct and juicy flavor all its own. THE KEEPER begins what should be a very fruitful career.” (Peter Straub, New York Times bestselling author of IN THE NIGHT ROOM)

“A dark and bracingly bleak tale of supernatural terror.” (Ramsey Campbell, author of SECRET STORY)

“Akin to the more ambitious work of Stephen King...this effective debut promises great things to come.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Deft and disturbing... twists expectations into surreal surprises... hypnotic reading - an assured and impressive debut.” (Douglas E. Winter)

“Echoes of Stephen King resound...the first fruits of a most promising career.” (Washington Times)

“...The new author on the block is definitely a keeper...” (-Edward Bryant, Locus)

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By Andrea on Nov. 20 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The barcode sticker was annoying because it doesn't come off easily. The book was in good shape, like they described.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 55 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Haunting and beautifully written Sept. 26 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Missing is Sarah Langan's second novel, a follow up to her highly praised 2006 debut, The Keeper, which no less a light than Peter Straub described as combining "a genuinely poetic sensibility with a taste for horror's most bravura excesses." Happily, The Missing (called The Virus in its UK incarnation) shows those same qualities, resulting in a book that's memorable, heartbreaking and disturbing.

The Missing (inspired in part by Langan's personal experiences in New York in the days after the 9/11 attack, when the smells and dust emanating from ground zero permeated the air in the city) is a loose sequel to The Keeper. For instance, a character from that novel appears briefly, and the town of Bedford, where The Keeper was set, is mentioned. The key link between the two novels, however, is the explosion of Clott Paper Mill at the end of The Keeper.

Besides killing several people, the explosion and subsequent fire resulted in the release of deadly Hydrogen Sulfide gas into the air. That element comes to permeate the soil in the woods between Bedford and Corpus Christi, Maine, enabling a virus in the soil there to evolve into something deadly and malevolent, thus setting the stage for the events described in The Missing.

Langan's fictional horror is precipitated by, of all things, a fourth grade field trip, where a student gets lost. After being exposed to the virus, that student becomes a Typhoid Mary of sorts, spreading the virus by attacking and biting members of the local populace. Soon, the majority of the citizens of Corpus Christi are seized by madness, turning into aggressive, flesh-craving crazies, all intent on securing their next meal and spreading the virus to new hosts. They are led by the pregnant teacher, wallflower Lois Larkin, who, while searching for her student, felt compelled to ingest some of the tainted forest dirt. Due to the way she is introduced to the virus, she becomes the hub of the group mind that the virus fosters in its victims, coming to lead the infected against the remaining populace.

The Missing effectively combines small town horror with apocalyptic fiction, calling to mind several books and at least one film exploiting similar themes--King's Cell, Straub's Floating Dragon, and John Shirley's In Darkness Waiting are the novels, 28 Days Later the film--as people try to cope with a rapidly changing, infinitely more deadly world than the one they've become accustomed to. The two novels it consciously or unconsciously evokes most, however, are two classics, David Morrell's The Totem, and Chet Williamson's Ash Wednesday, the first because its posits a chillingly plausible explanation behind the legends of the werewolf, vampire and zombie, the second because, like Williamson, Langan knows that apocalypse is personal, choosing to generate emotional force from the trials and tribulations of a small cast of characters, rather than choosing a larger, global stage. Through thoroughly arresting prose, Langan creates an air of intimacy between her cast and her readers that she exploits to its fullest, demonstrating that small, everyday horrors--a friend's betrayal, a spouse's infidelity, the breakdown of a family unit, and the difficult choices daily life forces on us--can be more devastating to some than the literal end of the world.

Reading this novel should prove reassuring to horror's old(er) guard--although elements of the book will certainly feel familiar, it's not a mere rehash of prior works. Rather, it is a statement that it's perfectly legitimate to revisit what's come before, as long as writers come at the material from a slightly different angle, with a slightly different perspective. The old saw that "there are no new stories, only new ways of telling them" once again holds true, at once a concession to reality and a creative challenge. It's invigorating to see new talent like Langan handling that challenge so deftly.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A deserving Stoker winner Aug. 19 2008
By Elizabeth Donald - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Langan has the ability to create a fully-realized, three-dimensional person in only a few short pages. Near the beginning of THE MISSING, a woman walks out of her house to pick up the newspaper. On her way back, she sees a bird eating poisonous berries. If a lesser author were to write this sequence, it would be half a page and we would know no more about this woman when she returned to the house than we did at the beginning of the chapter.

With Langan behind the wheel, this ordinary moment is a glimpse into a life both complex and ordinary, a woman frustrated in her role as mother and wife, full of regret and hope and sadness all at once. She is a real person, someone we know or might even have been, and we suddenly care very much what happens to her.

This is where most horror movies and many novels fail: making characters into archetypes, easily disposed of when the monster appears. Langan never falls into stereotype, making each character nuanced and real, with flaws that remind us that they are human beings. We never cheer for any of the deaths, even when they are characters we wouldn't want to know in real life. But we feel real sorrow at their flailing and ultimate futile attempts to save themselves.

Langan's voice will echo in your head for days after you finish reading this book. I find myself eagerly awaiting her next outing, even if the path down which she leads us is lined with poisonous flowers.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Missing Will Thrill You Jan. 8 2008
By Book Mama - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What started out as an innocent field trip to the woods in the neighboring town of Bedford turned into a nightmare for the inhabitants of Corpus Christi, Maine. Lois Larkin, grade school teacher beloved by most everyone in the small affluent town was troubled by a broken heart and broken dreams, or maybe she would have thought better of the ill fated trip.

A disturbed young boy awakens an evil hiding in the woods. A malicious evil waiting to spread and an unsuspecting town is its breeding ground. But Corpus Christi is just the beginning.

Sarah Langan proves with her second thrilling novel that she's no fluke. THE MISSING is an intellectual scare-fest that will have you pondering the survival of mankind. More than just an apocalyptic tale, we follow patient zero and the newly infected on a path of ideological malevolence and those who are fighting to survive it. These aren't mindless vampires or zombies and that's one thing that makes it so disturbing. The people infected keep a part of themselves as they are driven insane and given a new purpose.

As with THE KEEPER, Langan's debut novel, I found myself more horrified by my own imagination as she allowed the reader to let the circumstances play out. I enjoyed being given the benefit of letting the disturbing events unfold without having the details ruined by verbosity. That's not to say that she doesn't paint a vivid picture of the circumstances and rich characters with a spellbinding and gruesome brush. That kind of talent is a valuable commodity and shows a maturity that's exciting in a new writer.

The supporting characters are ones we are familiar with. The wife struggling to overcome her infidelity, the psychologist trying to save one more patient, the teenager trying to find love and acceptance, the little boy who doesn't understand why he does bad things. It's what gives us resonance with the characters as they struggle though the horrific circumstances we are too afraid to imagine.

It's not necessary to read THE KEEPER to enjoy THE MISSING, but you will be rewarded with creepy details if you don't deny yourself the pleasure. While THE KEEPER made me sleep with the lights on, THE MISSING had me bolting my doors and checking my windows.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This one will grab you! Sept. 21 2007
By Raymond Muraida - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I haven't been this excited about a new writer since I picked up Carrie in 1974. From her first book, The Keeper, Ms. Langan established the haunted communities surrounding the town of Bedford, Maine in her new book, The Missing. You won't hear Jimmy Stewart running down the streets with his arms spread out and saying, "I love you Bedford Falls." I couldn't take a moment to stop reading this book. Folks, it just that good. Langan is the real deal when it comes to this genre. But don't let the "horror" tag fool you, this book will appeal to even the harshest naysayers. The story that chronicles these well-developed characters keeps the narrative real. This has always been a gripe of mine that horror stories, though the basis of every horror story is that "it can't happen," lose interest when you don't believe in the characters enough to share in their growing sense of the horror that surrounds them. Langan keeps you grounded. Stephen King's first book was about an angry girl, as was the character in the Keeper. His second book, 'Salem's Lot, engrossed us in the inhabitants of a slowly dying small town, much like The Missing. Can it be that Ms. Langan's next book will be about a haunted structure! I already can't even wait for the next one. Do yourself a favor, click on the ADD TO SHOPPING CART tab at the top of the page and you'll be glad you did.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Grim classic Oct. 12 2007
By S. Harris - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
About a year ago I read, and reviewed (in an Amazon blurb), "The Keeper," by Sarah Langan. For me, that book was a mixed bag. The story struck me as uneven, as if Langan were trying to resurrect the great 70s / 80s horror novels of King and Straub. I applauded the effort, but the flow seemed off or forced or imitative. I don't know. Something didn't click all the way. But despite that overall impression, what stood out, equally, were the writer's strengths: well-developed characters, believable dialogue, and really good descriptive writing. Langan knows contemporary small town America and the folks that inhabit those towns (and suburbs) every bit as good as Stephen King. There are popular writers today who have not yet mastered character development, dialogue, and descriptive writing. The fact that Langan had these skills in pocket already, and with her first novel, to my mind stamped her as a writer potentially on the verge.

Now comes her second novel, "The Missing." There have been any number of End-of-the-World books and movies, many of them quite good. I suppose one could start with "Revelation," but recent horror story memory might label Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend,"as one the most influential and best (and closest to Langan's effort here), but there are so many books and movies that to start ticking them off would be an endless exercise for a short review. Still, the End of the World book or flick popularity continues to this day, because like no other type of story, such efforts hit at the heart of what frightens us most Now. In the last few years (Post 9/11) there have been outstanding, if dark, efforts to match the headlines we seem to face daily. In Cinema, "28 Days Later,""Children of Men,"a remake of "Dawn of the Dead," etc. In books, literary lion Cormac McCarthy recently produced his starkest novel, "The Road," about a father and son traveling across a landscape seemingly blasted out by George Romero and Mad Max. Stephen King, in a lean and mean form, cranked out the zombie novel "Cell," one of his best novels in years. In the hands of a good writer (or director), the raw stuff around us (War, Famine, Plague) can be effectively turned it into hoofbeats on Main Street. Langan is such a writer, and "The Missing" should be considered in the top tier of such books.

In "The Missing," the reader is introduced to small, affluent Corpus Christi, a neighbor to the gritty across the tracks Bedford, which was destroyed in Langan's earlier novel "The Keeper." That said, it isn't necessary to have read "The Keeper," though the return visits to the town are pretty creepy. The story is told through a number of different characters, but primarily, through attrition, becomes the story of Fenstad and Meg Wintrob. Fenstad is the local psychiatrist, Meg is the librarian. On the Eve of Destruction, their marriage is in trouble. How Fenstad holds on to his humanity, while defending his family, and battling his own demons, makes for the most fascinating thread in the novel. You are literally on the fence and on the edge with the guy as the pages zip by.

The cause of all this distress, seems a bit thin and unexplained, considering the havoc to come. On the other hand, there is something so visceral and horrific about the little boy's discovery in the woods that explanation seems unnecessary. Bones. Blood. Death. That's probably all you need to know or understand. And if you recall, the details were not great when Romero's first zombie lurched onto the screen. Sometimes less is more.

Anyway, the days go by for Corpus Christi, and what initially seems troubling, people getting sick, acting strange, etc.,turns into something far more deadly. Langan, who has a medical background, employs her knowledge of disease and symptoms very effectively - without ever overdoing it. "The Missing" are never really missing, but they are different. I'm still not sure what to call the "things" in the book: were-zombie-vampire-things? Whatever they are, what is more interesting is what, beyond the great hunger they feel, motivates them: Anger, Hatred, Resentment. How Langan uses such destructive emotions for her horror was something I noticed in her earlier novel. It makes for effective and intelligent horror, no matter the splatter (and there's plenty of that). These destructive emotions, however, are what Langan seems to be really focusing on, the kind of emotions that find a home in a collective intelligence that one might call Legion.

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