Title: THE COLD VANISH
Subtitle: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands
Author: JON BILLMAN
Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME
Length: 368 PAGES
Publisher: GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING – A DIVISION OF HACHETTE
Received From: NETGALLEY
Release Date: JULY 7, 2020
ISBN: 9781538747568 (eBook)
Price: $14.99 USD (eBook)
Rating: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐
For readers of Jon Krakauer and Douglas Preston, the critically acclaimed author and journalist Jon Billman’s fascinating, in-depth look at people who vanish in the wilderness without a trace and those eccentric, determined characters who try to find them.
These are the stories that defy conventional logic. The proverbial vanished without a trace incidences, which happen a lot more (and a lot closer to your backyard) than almost anyone thinks. These are the missing whose situations are the hardest on loved ones left behind. The cases that are an embarrassment for park superintendents, rangers and law enforcement charged with Search & Rescue. The ones that baffle the volunteers who comb the mountains, woods and badlands. The stories that should give you pause every time you venture outdoors.
Through Jacob Gray’s disappearance in Olympic National Park, and his father Randy Gray who left his life to search for him, we will learn about what happens when someone goes missing. Braided around the core will be the stories of the characters who fill the vacuum created by a vanished human being. We’ll meet eccentric bloodhound-handler Duff and R.C., his flagship purebred, who began trailing with the family dog after his brother vanished in the San Gabriel Mountains. And there’s Michael Neiger North America’s foremost backcountry Search & Rescue expert and self-described “bushman” obsessed with missing persons. And top researcher of persons missing on public wildlands Ex-San Jose, California detective David Paulides who is also one of the world’s foremost Bigfoot researchers.
It’s a tricky thing to write about missing persons because the story is the absence of someone. A void. The person at the heart of the story is thinner than a smoke ring, invisible as someone else’s memory. The bones you dig up are most often metaphorical. While much of the book will embrace memory and faulty memory — history — The Cold Vanish is at its core a story of now and tomorrow. Someone will vanish in the wild tomorrow. These are the people who will go looking.
This book is unique. It is part memoir, part dissertation on the numbers of missing people who have “cold vanished.”
Exactly what is a “cold vanish?”
A cold vanish is when a person goes missing, usually in the wild, leaving no clues. These people are often never found, and those who are found, are most often not found alive, and are usually discovered accidentally by other wilderness visitors, not by those who have searched for them.
“If you Google “missing person” and the name of your nearest national park or national forest, you will find clusters of the disappeared.”
“The National Institute of
Justice, the research arm of the Department of Justice, calls missing persons (and unidentified remains) ‘the nation’s silent mass disaster.’ They estimate that on any given day there are between 80,000 and 90,000 people actively listed with law enforcement as missing.”
“The Department of the Interior knows how many wolves and grizzly bears roam its wilds, but has a hard time keeping track of visitors who disappear. The Department of Justice keeps a database, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, NamUS, but reporting missing persons is voluntary in all but ten states, and law enforcement and coroner participation is voluntary as well. So a lot of the missing are also missing from the database.”
THE COLD VANISH is required reading for those of us who are fascinated by true crime and for those who follow such podcasts as “Missing,” and “The Vanished.”
“According to NamUS, more than 600,000 persons go missing in the United States each year; thankfully, many of these are quickly found alive. Sixty percent of the missing are male, 40 percent are female. The average age for a missing person is thirty-four.”
Those statistics surprised me. I knew that many people go missing, but 600,000 in a single year? That is a staggeringly high number. With budgetary constraints and other logistical issues, it proves that those who volunteer their time and resources to locating the lost are an invaluable resource for the families of those who have cold vanished.
Jacob Gray went missing in Olympia National Park in April of 2018. His father put all other obligations aside and spent innumerable hours, days, weeks and months searching for his son. The author was able to tag along on his search and this is the story around which this book is designed. More than just a reporter, it became clear as the search dragged on without resolution, that Randy Gray (Jacob’s Dad) and author Jon Billman became friends.
Although the author occasionally goes off a bit of a tangent, all in all, the story is well-written and has certainly opened my eyes to the issue of people missing in the wilds of North America. I am thrilled that the Author has chosen to donate 20% of all author royalties to the Jon Francis Foundation.
I rate THE COLD VANISH as 3.5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Billman is a former wildland firefighter and high school teacher. He holds an MFA in Fiction from Eastern Washington University. He’s the author of the story collection When We Were Wolves (Random House, 1999).
Billman is a regular contributor to Outside and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope: All-Story.
He teaches fiction and journalism at Northern Michigan University in the Upper Peninsula, where he lives with his family in a log cabin along the Chocolay River.
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:
Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, reaches a diverse audience through hardcover, trade paperback and mass market imprints that cater to every kind of reader.
Our imprints are Twelve, Grand Central Life & Style, Forever and Forever Yours. Our authors include Nicholas Sparks, David Baldacci, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robin Roberts, Sandra Brown, Brad Meltzer, Preston & Child, Nelson DeMille, Mario Batali, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Seth Grahame-Smith, Candace Bushnell, and many more.
To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES THAT WERE MENTIONED IN THE BOOK: