“The Disappearing Act”

The role of a lifetime if she makes it to the last page

“The Disappearing Act” is modern noir fiction. Mia Eliot is a nearly-thirty-year-old actress from Bedfordshire who finds herself in Los Angeles, a city with a glamorous surface but a sleazy underbelly. Each chapter is conveniently labeled much like a daily diary of events. The story unfolds in Mia’s first person narrative. She speaks directly to the reader, and talks to herself, pondering what to do, and speculating about what others are doing.

Mia is disillusioned, fleeing her own personal nightmare, going to L.A. to find the role of a lifetime. What she finds instead is a complex web of moral ambiguity. This is L.A. where everyone is obsessed, not with “the work” but with the win. She wants something better for herself and new friend Emily whom she met at an audition. Instead, she finds herself on a path to doom and destruction. She expects the worst to happen at any minute, and no matter how hard she tries, she just keeps making incorrect choices. Along the way, she encounters both the bad and the good of Hollywood, the dangerous – an absurdly self-confident film executive as well as the classic hero — a romantic successful film producer who takes “a shine” to her.

Steadman creates an atmosphere filled with claustrophobic entrapment and compulsive confrontation. Mia is in a desperate situation due to circumstances beyond her control, and she teeters on the edge of a moral breakdown. I received a review copy of “The Disappearing Act” from Catherine Steadman, Penguin Random House Publishing, and Ballantine Books. It is modern noir fiction at its dark and shadowy best.