Watch Me Disappear

Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.



It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike and vanished from the trail. No body, only a hiking boot, was ever found. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan by drinking, Olive by growing remote.  

But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan is worried about Olive's emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he ever knew about his wife. Is it possible that Olive is right—that Billie isn’t dead after all? 

Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, their family, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.  


Praise for Watch Me Disappear


Watch Me Disappear  is just as riveting as Gone Girl…the characters are arresting, the Berkeley setting delightfully authentic, and, best of all, the propulsive investigation may make you want to go into hiding just to finish the book now.” — San Francisco Chronicle

"A twisty, involving mystery." — People

"Watch Me Disappear" is a surprising and compelling read. Like the best novels, it takes the reader somewhere she wouldn't otherwise allow herself to go.... And like the best novels, it's strongest in the places that matter most: in the believability of its characters and the irresistibility of its plot."   Chicago Tribune

"Olive’s insights feel fresh and real. And, once disclosed, the reason for Billie’s disappearance is particularly satisfying."  New York Times Book Review

"A smoldering summer read with depth and insight."  New York Magazine

"Having already proven herself master of the page-turner with her two previous novels, Brown succeeds in crafting a narrative that is compulsively readable — it goes down like candy — but she also creates an empathetic portrait of a father and daughter flailing after the loss of the magnetic center that held their family of three together, all the while offering insight into the darker sides of motherhood and a failing marriage." -- LA Review of Books

"Like a darker, meatier Where'd You Go Bernadette, Brown's latest explores the messy inner life of a mother just starting to feel invisible to her own family. This brilliantly layered novel is full of twists and turns, tender and biting and vibrant. Readers who can't get enough of the "Girl"-type suspense trend will be more than satisfied with this tautly paced domestic drama." – Booklist, Starred Review

"For some people, the idea of unconditional love is fraught with conditions, especially when a relationship has been built on lies and secrets as the superb "Watch Me Disappear" shows. Janelle Brown's third family drama delivers an incisive and emotional view of how grief and recovery from loss can seep into each aspect of a person's life."   Associated Press 

"Watch Me Disappear manages to be a thrill ride for mystery fans as well as a meditation on the gap between who people really are and who we want them to be.”  — Harper’s Bazaar

“Tantalizing and twisty, Watch Me Disappear is both a spider’s web of a thriller and a moving exploration of the deeper mysteries of marriage and family. You won’t be able to put it down, but you won’t forget it either.” Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me

“A riveting, seductive read about the secret, protected places within even the most intimate relationships. Brown has written a novel that provokes thought even as her story twists and turns. I loved it.” – Sara GruenNYT bestselling author of Water for Elephants

“The plot is gripping enough: a woman's disappearance leaves a daughter and husband in a limbo that moves rapidly into true mystery, with ever-widening gaps between acceptance and doubt, memory and history, truth and lies—all very slippery and treacherous and thrilling.  But the real magic of Watch Me Disappear is Brown's gift for evoking familial love in all its mad permutations—and the more intensely for the high stakes of what has been taken, and what is yet to be found.  This is a story you simply don't want to end—but then lord what an ending!"” – Tim JohnstonNYT bestselling author of Descent

Clever and compelling. This ricocheting tale reveals that even in the closest families, how little we know of the ones we love, and how our own secrets are often the hardest to bear, can cost us dearly in the end.”   #1 NYT bestselling crime novelist Lisa Gardner

“Watch Me Disappear is at once a riveting page turner and a thoughtful meditation on what it means to know other people--and ourselves. Be careful, once you start Janelle Brown's expertly crafted and wonderfully mysterious novel, you won't be able to stop.” – Edan Lepucki, NYT bestselling author of California and Woman No. 17

“I devoured Watch Me Disappear in one sitting. In this poignant and captivating story of a missing woman and the family she left behind, Brown deftly peels away the layers of a loving marriage to reveal a haunting mystery and a devastating truth: that no matter how much you love someone, you can never truly know them.” – Laura McHugh, author of The Weight of Blood'

"Brown’s novel is more than just a page-turning suspense story. It’s a gripping family drama that focuses on the choices we make and the ties that bind us to the ones we love."   Publisher's Weekly

"... It's because the author deftly incorporates all these themes into one building mystery, however, that the book is so page-turning. Readers are likely to be unsure of which outcome would be most satisfying until the very end. Moody but restrained, this is a familiar tale that sets out to upend itself—and succeeds.”   Kirkus