Cover image for Boy still missing
Boy still missing
Searles, John.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2001]

Physical Description:
292 pages ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Boy Still Missing

It is June 1971 and Dominick Pindle, a tenderhearted but aimless Massachusetts teenager, spends his nights driving around with his mother and dragging his wayward father out of bars. Late one evening Dominick's search puts him face-to-face with his father's seductive mistress, Edie Kramer. Instantly in lust, he begins a forbidden relationship with this beautiful, mysterious woman. Before long, though, their erotic entanglement leads to a shocking death, and Dominick discovers that the mother he betrayed had secrets as dark and destructive as his own.

Rapt with confusion and guilt as the startling facts about his family begin to emerge, Dominick heads to New York City in search of retribution and the truth about his mother's disquieting past. He soon finds refuge with Jeanny Garvey, a young, soulful idealist who might save him from his dire fate, but not before he makes a desperate choice that endangers everything he holds clear -- and puts both their lives at risk.

Charged with the exhilarating narrative pace of a thriller and set during a complicated and explosive era, Boy Still Missing is a stunning debut novel. It renders a deeply affecting portrait of a boy whose passage into adulthood proves as complex and impassioned as the history that unfolds before his eyes.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It is bad enough that Dominic Pindle's mother has to search through Holedo's bars for her husband with adolescent Dominic in tow. But when Dominic is sent into the house of his father's mistress to bring the Old Man home, Pindle the Younger becomes romantically entwined with Edie as well. Wooed by her experience, her sensuality, and by a destructive need to relive the sins of his father, Dominic betrays his mother. When tragedy befalls the family, Dominic sets out for New York City to find his long-lost half-brother and alleviate his intense sense of responsibility for the destruction of the Pindle family. Dominic must finally choose whether to continue repeating the past misdeeds of his parents or to try and break free of his ancestral hopelessness. Searles builds suspense and excitement with surprising turns of plot weaving back into one another, and while many of the secondary characters lack depth, Dominic Pindle will resonate with readers, especially the innumerable boys still missing. A promising debut for the clearly talented Searles. --John Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

"If only I could have stopped the most important person in my life from dying... alone." This much-anticipated first novel from Searles (book editor at Cosmopolitan) is a vivid blue-collar coming-of-age story with more than the usual supply of plot twists: abductions, abortion, adoption, alcoholism, media frenzies and extramarital affairs contribute first vim, then tragedy, to the 16th year in the life of Dominick Pindle. Searles's tale opens in 1971, in a "desolate, middle-of-nowhere" New England town, where narrator Dominick and his determinedly sunny mother spend Saturday nights trawling bars in search of his wayward father. When Dominick spots his dad's truck outside sexy divorc‚e Edie Kramer's house, it's the start of a fateful relationship. Edie is pregnant by Dominick's father, who's no longer seeing her; hurting for money, Edie convinces Dominick to steal his mother's hidden cash and give it to her. But Dominick's mom is also secretly pregnant (by the town sheriff). Without the money she had salted away, she can't afford a safe illegal abortion and bleeds to death in a motel room after trying to terminate her pregnancy herself. The next day, Dominick leaves for New York City in search of facts about his mother and his mysterious half-brother. After a number of hairpin turns, intrigue and reconciliations, the book's climactic section finds Dominick and his new girlfriend Jeanny holed up in a motel room with Edie's baby in a desperate attempt to get the media to investigate his mother's death. Like Russell Banks, Searles combines a rapid and intricate plot with major social concerns. Some readers will find Searles heavy-handed in his depiction of the pre-Roe politics of abortion; many more, though, will find his story of hard choices, bleak times and unwilling kidnappers captivating indeed. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

All in the family: working-class teenager Dominick falls for his father's mistress, a hot affair that leads to an accidental death and the discovery that his mother also has dark secrets. This debut from the senior books editor at Cosmopolitan is being highly touted by the publisher and already has plenty of movie attention and foreign rights sales. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One June 1971 Whenever my father disappeared, we looked for him on Hanover Street. My mother drove us slowly along in our orange Pinto, gazing into shadowy windows. Between the rows of smoky bars glowing with Schlitz and Budweiser signs were slim alleyways where he parked his fender-dented GMC. My mother's best friend, Marnie, sat in the passenger seat, and I squeezed in the back. Marnie's job was to keep an eye out for my father's truck, but she spent most of the time applying foundation, darkening her lashes, and glossing her thin lips in the visor mirror. Marnie had recently read somewhere that all men were intrigued by Southern women, so she adopted the appropriate lingo. Besides the occasional "y'all" and "yahoo," it meant a lot of nicknames. Peaches. Honey pie. Cupcake. At fifteen I considered myself practically a man, and the sound of all that food coming from her mouth did nothing but make me hungry. Tonight Marnie was in the middle of plucking her eyebrows when she said, "Is that his truck, Peaches?" "Where?" I said, sticking my head between them. I loved being part of Find-Father-First, and when she spotted his truck, it pissed me off, because I felt I had lost somehow. "There," Marnie said, tapping her nail against the windshield. "There's the bastard." I scanned the narrow parking lot. Datsun. Ford. Plymouth. Ford. GMC. My heart banged away, thinking of what usually came next. My mother hated bars and would almost always send me inside to nab my father. "A person could waste a whole life in one of those places," she liked to say. For me there was nothing better than stepping inside the crowded brick caves--the smells of wet wood, stale beer, and smoke forever mingling in the air. I loved being surrounded by the cracking of pool balls, women with tight jeans and cigarette voices. They were so opposite from my mother with her smooth, young skin, flowery blouses and chinos, timid movements and soft hum of a voice. My mother had the air of a churchgoer, even though she never went to church. She was Sunday afternoon, and those women were Saturday night. Whenever my father saw me, he would pat his heavy hand on my shoulder and introduce me to all his pals. My father was like a movie star inside a bar, probably because he wasn't bald or potbellied or sloppy like the rest of the guys. He had straight teeth and a wave of dark hair, muscles and a flat stomach. He wore the same rugged denim jacket all year long and held his cigarette like a joint. While he paid his tab, I'd grab a fistful of straws so Leon Diesel and I could twist and snap them at the bus stop in the morning. Some nights I'd shove my sweatshirt pockets full of maraschino cherries and a couple green olives for Marnie. The neon fruit stained my hands and the inside of my pockets a strange artificial red that never completely came out in the wash. The thought of the whole routine made me smile when my mother signaled and braked. We all squinted at the truck parked between Maloney's Pub and the Dew Drop Inn. Even in the summer, faded garland Christmas bells and angels dangled from the wires that hung between buildings and across Hanover Street. Every December the Holedo town maintenance crews put up new decorations, only to let the weather slowly take them down the rest of the year. Under the wiry remains of a golden bell sat the truck Marnie had spotted. Red and silver. Snow chains on the tires even though it was June. "No," my mother said in the softer-timbre voice she used for disappointment. "Roy's truck has that dent in the fender. And he took his chains off last March." "Honey," Marnie said, "that man took his chains off long before that." My mother glanced in the side-view mirror and pulled back onto the street, not laughing at the joke. "Get it?" Marnie said. "Ball and chain." Neither of us smiled. After all, none of this was funny. For the last two days my father had been on what we called a "big bender." It meant he left for work on Wednesday morning and hadn't been seen since. I took the opportunity to dig at Marnie for picking out the wrong truck. "Those weren't even Massachusetts plates." My voice cracked a bit, which took away from the slight. I had the froggiest voice of any guy my age and was glad the magic of my long-awaited puberty was finally beginning to deepen it. Marnie looked at me and shrugged like she didn't care. But we both knew she had lost a point or two in the game. She went back to her eyebrows, and I tried not to be distracted as she plucked. Hair after hair. Hair after hair. She was one of those women who had great faith in the transformative powers of makeup and jewelry. Marnie was so different from my mother, who kept her thick, soot-colored hair in a neat little headband. My mother had tattoo-green eyes and a smile that didn't call for lipstick or gloss. On her ring finger she wore a tiny silver band with a diamond, no bigger than a baby's pinkie nail. We rolled to the end of Hanover Street, where the entrance ramp led to the highway out of Holedo. The bar lights blurred behind us, and my mother started checking and rechecking her watch, probably realizing how long we'd been searching. I stared out the window at a row of gray apartment complexes, an auto body shop with a half dozen mangled vehicles in the lot, the steady row of streetlamps that cast white light and shifting shadows inside our car as we moved. Excerpted from Boy Still Missing by John Searles. Copyright © 2001 by John Searles. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.