Synopses & Reviews
The year is 1886 and old Samuel Jones, broken in body and soul, has ridden hard to reach his daughters remote New Mexico ranchridden hard so that he can die there. But Maggie Baldwin, grown and with children of her own, wants nothing to do with this man who abandoned her and her mother thirty years earlier to live with the Indians. Nothing, that is, until renegade Apaches shoot Maggies husband and kidnap her oldest daughter. Then she has no choice but to ride with the dying father she detests in a desperate attempt to rescue her child before the girl disappears forever into the vast twilight land of old Mexico.
"Excellent...The Western may fade from time to time, but there is something too compelling about the story of the West...for it to die."
The Dallas Morning News
"Mysterious, vast, dangerous, beautiful. Like the West itself... the book at the close will break your heart."
Time Out London
Reading Group Guide
1. Tom Eidson's foreword to "The Missing" centers on the often-forgotten heroism of women in meeting the harsh challenge of settling the West. Are there echoes of that in the lives of women everywhere during the time he writes about?
2. Do you sense from this book that the burdens women bore in the West were heavier than they are today?
3. To what extent did the early women settlers of the West need to find within themselves the courage and physical strength -- even the capacity for violence -- to be their own protectors? Especially when they found themselves without male partners?
4. Does this book give you a sense that the wide-open, harsh, bitterly contested environment of the early West created a dramatic change in relations between men and women -- as compared to the more temperate, settled, "civilized" East?
5. Western settlement inevitably involved conflict with -- and displacement of -- Native Americans. How does Eidson handle the often tragic elements of this conflict?
6. How does he balance the outrage of Native Americans at being displaced and the rage of settlers at the tactics that Indians used in striking back?
7. Are there any parallels between the Apache kidnappers in The Missing -- and such tactics as hostage-taking by contemporary terrorists?
8. When Maggie wants nothing to do with Samuel Jones at the start of the book do you feel she was justified? And later when you learn of Samuel Jones' reasons for leaving Maggie and her mother, does that answer satisfy you? Would you have reacted differently to the return of a dying father who had done you and your mother wrong?