I was going to write this earlier in the week, but I didn’t due to other distractions in my life. But I’m going to write about it now.
Please don’t read The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman.
And here’s why:
First of all, let me say that when I saw this on display in Barnes and Noble, I was intrigued. If you haven’t been around on the Internet, there’s something called “Missing 411” where people focus on and talk about mysterious disappearances of people in the wilderness and in particular the national parks of America. This book talks about these different disappearances, but continues back to one particular story about a young man named Jacob who went missing in a national park in Washington State. I was interested in reading about Jacob’s story, the events leading to his disappearance, his character, and just reading about the circumstances of missing people and national parks and what people do about it.
Well…I didn’t exactly get what I was hoping for.
For starters, the book keeps jumping back and forth between Jacob’s story and other stories of missing people in national parks. Sometimes it even goes back and forth between family conversations and the above mentioned topics. Which would have been find, but it felt very disjointed.
And to add cream to the frustration crop, Billman keeps bringing up the topic of Bigfoot and how this “creature” might be involved in disappearances. That alone was starting to make me not want to finish the book.
Then I started reading other reviews of the book and I found some more juicy information. It turns out that Billman never contacted any of the family and friends of Jacob to tell them that he was writing a book about their beloved family member/friend, whether to interview them for the book or even let them know that the book was being written, much less ask permission to use their names in the book.
According to friends and family members, the facts about Jacob were distorted or completely wrong. For example, Billman continuously mentions that Jacob had mental problems and had issues at the nursing home he worked at. Jacob never had mental problems or depression and was very, very close to those in his life. He loved his job and the staff and residents were absolutely devastated by his disappearance into the wilderness. Everyone wanted him to be found safely.
With that being said, I completely shut down the book. I didn’t need to know anymore. Who would just do that, to be honest? He’s definitely not a Krakauer, a man who is dry and meticulous in his writing but at least you know he researches for his book and cites sources. In an age where everyone wants to see where you got your information from, Billman failed beyond miserably.
So…don’t read this book. I beg you. If you’re interested in missing cases, read something from a more reputable writer. I feel sad that I even let this book pass through my hands. Don’t let it happen to you.