Friday, February 5

The Year We Disappeared - Cylin and John Busby

At the end of the long, hot summer of 1979, police officer John Cylin was shot in the face while on his way to work. Hospitalised for months and facing years of reconstructive surgery, JOhn quickly realised it was an attempted murder and suspected a local tough. His family was under police protection, but John was sure that his department was corrupt, and that the arsonist was being fed information from one or more of his colleagues. When the town protested the ongoing cost of protecting his family in the face of no charges, the Busby's vanished.
Alternating authors, the memoir aims to add to straight forward true crime by combining John's fairly dispassionate report with the impact of Cylin's recollections as a child - she was nine at the time of the shooting.
Every review I've read since reading the Year We Disappeared has been positive and full of praise - for example:
It's hard-hitting and very, very tense. Neither Busby shrinks from revealing their darkest moments or innermost thoughts and so this book has absolutely immediate insight. Nothing about this year in the family's life was exciting or special. It was all about fear, anger, and loss. - honest, unflinching, and revelatory. It's graphic and painful to read ... heartily recommend

I am clearly heartless and alone, because I found The Year We Disappeared underwhelming. In fairness to the book, I did read it in store, after night duty, so it didn't get its best reading from me. That said, even though I knew it discussed real events and real people, I just wasn't gripped by the writing or the events. I don't know why, either - in addition to the shooting itself there's the undeniable and increasingly obvious corruption, the wierd lack of support from the town and from friends and family, and the premise is compelling. Yet something about the writing, which read a lot like a therapeutic exercise, didn't capture my attention, and the end was unsatisfactory. I know that this is because there never was a satisfactory resolution - the statue of limitations has expired without so much as an arrest, let alone conviction, but that in itself could have been stronger. Eh - Alex

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