• The Cold Vanish

  • Seeking the Missing in North America's Wildlands
  • By: Jon Billman
  • Narrated by: Stephen Graybill
  • Length: 11 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (1,121 ratings)

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The Cold Vanish  By  cover art

The Cold Vanish

By: Jon Billman
Narrated by: Stephen Graybill
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Publisher's summary

Perfect for listeners of Jon Krakauer and Douglas Preston, this "authentic and encyclopedic" book examines real-life cases of those who vanish in the wilderness without a trace (Roman Dial) — and those eccentric, determined characters who try to find them.

These are the stories that defy conventional logic. The proverbial vanished without a trace incidences, which happen a lot more (and a lot closer to your backyard) than almost anyone thinks. These are the missing whose situations are the hardest on loved ones left behind. The cases that are an embarrassment for park superintendents, rangers, and law enforcement charged with Search & Rescue. The ones that baffle the volunteers who comb the mountains, woods, and badlands. The stories that should give you pause every time you venture outdoors.

Through Jacob Gray's disappearance in Olympic National Park, and his father Randy Gray who left his life to search for him, we will learn about what happens when someone goes missing. Braided around the core will be the stories of the characters who fill the vacuum created by a vanished human being. We'll meet eccentric bloodhound-handler Duff and R.C., his flagship purebred, who began trailing with the family dog after his brother vanished in the San Gabriel Mountains. And there's Michael Neiger, North America's foremost backcountry Search & Rescue expert and self-described "bushman" obsessed with missing persons. And top researcher of persons missing on public wildlands Ex-San Jose, California detective David Paulides who is also one of the world's foremost Bigfoot researchers.

It's a tricky thing to write about missing persons because the story is the absence of someone. A void. The person at the heart of the story is thinner than a smoke ring, invisible as someone else's memory. The bones you dig up are most often metaphorical. While much of the book will embrace memory and faulty memory — history — The Cold Vanish is at its core a story of now and tomorrow. Someone will vanish in the wild tomorrow. These are the people who will go looking.

©2020 Jon Billman (P)2020 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"Colorful side characters, like psychics and Bigfoot hunters, provide some light moments, but what makes a lasting impression is the story of Randy and his ultimately dashed hopes of finding his son alive. The author's personal involvement makes this tale all the more affecting." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"Required reading for anyone concerned about the missing, Billman's authentic and encyclopedic book leads us across the landscapes of the vanished with a journalist's acumen and a searcher's sympathy. It's both true and useful, a storytelling textbook I wish I'd read before my own son went missing." (Roman Dial, author of The Adventurer's Son)

"The Cold Vanish is part mystery, part glance into a world of heroes and charlatans, death, and loss that most of us, fortunately, do not know, and don't want to know, but perhaps should. The Cold Vanish is informative, and in a sad way, captivating and well worth a read." (National Parks Traveler)