________________ CM . . . . Volume xxi Number 15 . . . . December 12, 2014


Disappearing Act. (Rapid Reads: A Leena O’Neil Mystery).

Dayle Campbell Gaetz.
Victoria, BC: Raven Books/Orca, 2015.
147 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0822-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0823-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0824-9 (epub).

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Chasity Findlay.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


I replayed the message with the phone pressed tight to my ear. “Please, Colleen, I need your help. Call me. Please…” Her voice faded to nothing.

I sank onto the nearest chair. “So, you finally call me because you need help?” I asked aloud. “Please tell me why I should care.”

Leaving my phone, I slammed out of the house. But her voice followed me down the long, winding driveway, sounding more desperate with every step. I need your help. Call me. Please. I stopped. Turned around. Started back. I’d run away once, but never again. I wasn’t a kid anymore. It was time to face up to my family, and the desperate tone of Gina’s voice told me she really needed my help. I had to find out what was wrong. I threw open the door and grabbed the phone. It started ringing in my hand. “Gina?” I answered, my heart crashing into my lungs. “Georgia,” she corrected, uncompromising as always. “I’m catching the next ferry. Meet me. Please. Don’t call again. Take the battery out of your phone.”

“Why?” I asked. But she was gone.


Dayle Campbell Gaetz’s Disappearing Act introduces readers to amateur private investigator Leena O’Neil. Three years before the novel takes place, Leena dropped out of college at the age of twenty and walked out on her life with nothing but a backpack of belongings and a pocket full of money to escape her overbearing mother and seemingly perfect sister. Up to this point, her family has not bothered to report her missing or to search for her.

     Out of the blue, Leena’s older sister, Georgia calls her up and requests her assistance. Georgia, adamant that her husband has been trying to kill her, asks Leena to help her disappear. The plot thickens when news breaks that Georgia’s husband, Mark, has been murdered and police are looking for Georgia. Leena, armed with online courses in private investigating, sets out to determine who is responsible for Mark’s murder and who has been harassing Georgia. In the process, she uncovers many hidden secrets and discovers that all is not what it seems.

     Disappearing Act is part of Orca Book Publishers’ “Rapid Reads” series. “The Rapid Reads” series is a high interest-low vocabulary collection of novels aimed at adults. The books in this series feature short chapters and overall length, simple vocabulary, and straightforward, action-packed storylines geared toward reluctant readers and English language learners. This book is the first in a series of mysteries that will feature Leena O’Neil as private investigator. Disappearing Act sets itself up as a fast-paced mystery from the beginning. The plot, which is designed to grab reluctant readers’ attention right away, takes off in the first few pages, and it does not let up, Campbell Gaetz has written a tightly woven novel that covers a lot of ground in just 147 pages. Although it is short, Disappearing Act is not a predictable read. It contains many plot twists that will keep readers guessing. The plot moves at a pace that will keep readers engaged as Leena follows clues that lead her closer to discovering the truth.

     Readers will likely find themselves connecting with Leena. Over the course of the novel, she deals with issues of discovering her identity and complex family relationships and friendships, themes of interest to the target audience. I found myself becoming curious about how Leena’s relationships will progress with her estranged family and other characters introduced in the novel. I can imagine that these storylines will be developed in future Leena O’Neil mysteries.

     I think Disappearing Act will appeal to a wide audience. The high interest topic, relatable protagonist, and gripping plot will be of interest to reluctant readers, English language learners, and strong readers looking for a quick read. Although the “Rapid Reads” series is geared toward adults, I believe that it will appeal to older teens as well. Campbell Gaetz left several loose ends untied at the end of the novel, leaving readers on the edge of their seats with anticipation for Leena’s next adventure.


Chasity Findlay is a high school English teacher and a graduate student at the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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