The Vanishing of Katharina Linden - Helen Grant
In the small, quiet German town of Bad Munstereifel, news and gossip travel fast. When young girls seemingly disappear, the town is abuzz with fear and excitement, ready to point fingers at the likely suspect. To ten-year-old Pia Kolvenbach, the vanishings seem to be right out of a fairy tale. Drawn to the stories and legends surrounding her hometown, Pia sets out to solve the case along with her friend Stefan.

Despite the title of the novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is largely the story of Pia, with the titular Katharina serving mainly as a plot device. While some adults may find it difficult to relate to the young protagonist, most readers should be able to sympathize with Pia’s ostracizing at the hands of her classmates following the accidental death of her grandmother.

The German setting is largely reinforced through Grant’s use of numerous German words and phrases. Having grown up partly in Germany myself, I was largely familiar with the words and cultural events in the novel. For those who are not, a glossary is provided in the back of the novel, although most meanings can be determined from the text.

The story is largely driven by the plot, and few characters besides Pia and her friend Stefan see any real development. The story picks up near the end of the novel; however, the ending itself is rather abrupt. The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is a quick read and a fun little mystery story, although the ending denouement is a bit disappointing.

A review copy was provided through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.