In a 2007 interview published in the online magazine The Morning News, Julavits described her appreciation for Tim O'Brien's psychological thriller, In the Lake of the Woods: "I loved the way that book has this inexorable plot pull that you start to do that hungry, page-turning thing, but then suddenly you realize the deeper in you get the fewer answers you have. And the possibilities are actually fracturing off; with every page you turn you get further away from the quest that you thought was your initial quest."

Five years later, Julavits seems to have sent both her readers and her protagonist into a very similar labyrinth.

Deirdre Fulton can be reached at dfulton@phx.com.

THE VANISHERS | by Heidi Julavits | Doubleday | 304 pages | $26.95

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