by Sarah Hamaker

As a writer of romantic suspense, I’ve always been fascinated by missing persons, especially adults who simply disappear into thin air, leaving behind more questions than answers. According to Statista Research Department, more males than females go missing in the 21 and older category, while the opposite is true in the younger than 21 category.

According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics as of December 31, 2021, the NCIC registered 93,718 active missing person records. Juveniles under 18 years of age account for 30,400 (32 percent) of the records and 39,114 (42 percent) records when juveniles are defined as under 21 years of age.

People go missing for many reasons, including runaways, kidnapped (a small percentage) and getting away from an unhealthy environment (abuse, for example). While the number of missing persons in the US fluctuates, last year had the lowest number since 1990, with almost half of those missing in 2021 being minorities.

In my latest romantic suspense, Vanished Without a Trace, my heroine investigates missing persons on her podcast. She teams up with the brother who’s been trying to track down his missing sister for nine years.

When writing the story, I thought about how I would go about searching for a missing loved one. What steps would I take? How would I continue to search as the years rolled by? What clues would I grasp at to find the person?

I crafted the book from the perspective of the hero, whose personal connection with the missing person propelled him to keep searching when all hope seemed lost, and from the heroine, who came at the search from a journalistic approach, asking the tougher questions. The two different methods gave the story some natural tension as well as a realistic view of how such a search could be carried out by amateur detectives.

Sarah Hamaker loves writing books “where the hero and heroine fall in love while running for their lives.” She’s written romantic suspense novels and nonfiction books, as well as stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul volumes. As a writers coach, her heart is encouraging writers. Her podcast, “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” can be found wherever you listen to podcasts. Visit her online at

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