Vanished in the Dunes is a terrific summer read – completely engaging and keeps you guessing until the very end. Allan Retzky has crafted a story that is filled with suspense and unexpected twists, even up to the last page.
The story begins when Amos Posner, a New Yorker who has been accused of financial impropriety and forced to leave his lucrative job, heads out to the Hamptons to escape the stresses of the city and a troubled marriage with his wife, Sara. While taking the bus to his Hamptons cottage, Posner encounters Heidi, a stunning dark-haired beauty; Heidi’s flirtatious nature and insistence on talking to Amos don’t end after the bus has arrived in Amagansett. Heidi sees him again at a local store and begs for a tour of town, even going so far as to ask to see Amos’ home. Although he is reluctant to invite her in, Posner does show her the view from his home and Heidi quickly makes herself comfortable, even choosing to stay when Amos must return to town to get his wallet which he forgot at the store. Upon his return, however, Posner is shocked to find his front door open and Heidi’s lifeless body in his foyer. While he had nothing to do with her death, Amos immediately feels that he will be suspected by the police as well as his wife who has already suggested infidelity. Acting rashly, Amos buries Heidi on a local shoreline and so begins a story filled with suspense.
Posner is suspected by police because he is one of two locals who was seen talking to Heidi, but her med school student boyfriend, Stern, quickly becomes the target of the police investigation. He has no alibi and seemed infatuated with Heidi despite his insecurity in their relationship. Stern quickly falls into depression and a downward spiral induced by psychological troubles and an obsession to find out what truly happened to Heidi, going so far as to stalk Posner. The tension mounts as Posner fears being discovered and having to face the law and his wife, and Stern becomes a viable threat in his pursuit of justice. The end is truly unexpected – I won’t even begin to comment on it because I don’t want to give anything away – it is really a pleasure to read.
Heidi’s estranged sister, who has a remarkable resemblance to Heidi, comes to Amagansett to help, but seems fairly detached; this may be the one unbelievable aspect of this book – no one from Heidi’s family seems to care about her disappearance and even though the sister came to resolve the issue, there is little emotion, even when it would be appropriate or expected. Overall, this is a great story and a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is just fluffy enough to take to the beach, but is filled with unexpected twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end.