The Vanishing (or Het Gouden Ei as the original Dutch novel was called) centres on Rex, a young man whose girlfriend disappears at a service station one summer evening and is never seen again. In the years that follow, his life is profoundly affected by what happened and he invests a huge amount of time and effort in trying to track Saskia down - sometimes at the expense of other close relationships. It soon becomes apparent that whoever is responsible for her disappearance is closer than Rex had imagined. But how far will he go to find the answers he has been waiting for?
This is a short but perfectly formed book. For me, it excels in giving the reader a glimpse into the mind of a killer. It is chilling to read the simple and matter-of-fact thought processes that lead a seemingly ordinary human being to commit murder. Krabbé's villain is so scary precisely because he is so 'normal', a man that you can easily imagine passing by in the street or bumping into at the supermarket. The tension builds and builds until the terrifying finale. Even though I knew exactly what to expect, having seen the film, I was at the edge of my seat for the last chapter.
It's difficult for me to say which I would recommend doing first - watching the film or reading the book? Usually the book wins every time, but in the case of The Vanishing I'm not so sure. I think if you're unfamiliar with the story then to be honest I'd probably recommend watching the original Dutch movie first, as the ending is one of the most shocking and memorable I can think of. However, even if you know what's coming, this little book is still a really worthwhile read and a good one to pick up for Halloween.