[Steadman's] perspective as an actress and a writer brings realism to this novel ... gripping ... In any good noir novel, an atmospheric locale is vital, and Steadman richly evokes Los Angeles 'in all its monstrous glory' ... Reading is much like watching a suspenseful film, and its intentional, camera-ready sensibilities might make it a better movie than book ... has some minor flaws that don’t line up with Mia’s 'what would Jane Eyre do' attitude...Somehow, the novel’s twists and turns make some of these unrealistic scenes forgivable ... Still, Steadman’s flair for storytelling makes this novel a welcome escape. It employs a plot like the one in The Talented Mr. Ripley I won’t reveal, and stellar scenes set at high elevations bring to mind Alfred Hitchcock’s use of heights in Vertigo and North by Northwest.
... engrossing ... Steadman deftly brings her talent for characterization to her writing, combining an engaging mystery with a meaty look at the question of what is real in a land of make-believe. This glittering narrative with a totally beguiling protagonist makes for an absolutely perfect beach read.
As a longtime fan of psychological thrillers, whether they be in novel or movie form, I appreciate the often intricate details and plot elements that keep you guessing and second-guessing from beginning to end. Every once in a while, you get one that offers a far simpler premise and then pulls the rug out from under you when you least expect it ... This is what occurs in The Dissapearing Act, British author and actress Catherine Steadman’s latest book. She deftly sets things up with a seemingly harmless situation that slowly begins to snowball into something far more sinister ... a near-flawless work of psychological suspense that sneaks up on you, creeps into your psyche, and turns the tables on all that you thought you knew about everyone involved. As an actor, I appreciated Steadman’s use of the cattle call audition process as the foundation for this nail-biting thriller. Those situations are stressful enough without having them take the bizarre turn that only an actress and top-notch writer could have dreamt up.
... entertaining ... The authentic movie business details and nicely developed characters more than compensate for some confused plotting and Mia’s at times breathtakingly naive behavior. This tale of Hollywood glamour, cruelty, and myth is sure to win Steadman new fans.
Despite an engaging central mystery—what happened to Emily?—the rest of the novel doesn't hold up. Mia has a frustrating lack of complexity; all her auditions become opportunities, and she's inexplicably naïve. Supposedly an experienced actress, she reads like someone plucked from the street and dropped into Hollywood’s orbit, and her constant surprise at the excessive luxury heaped upon her is grating. Her involvement with Emily—a woman she met once, for a few minutes—makes little sense, and the reveal at the end only makes it more implausible. The novel's consideration of Hollywood's dangers isn't unusual enough to be interesting, and the consideration of the gender dynamics of power is too clichéd to be thought-provoking ... The Hollywood ground covered by this book is already well trodden.