It was close to midnight when the last train left the station. On board sat an American woman in a fluttery shirt, a famous musician on her way to the biggest music festival in Chennai. But the festival wasn’t the reason she was in India after so many years. If she could go back to the store, the shopkeeper might have the answer she was looking for.

Outside the air grew damp and foggy as the train rumbled through the darkness. The woman closed her eyes and fell asleep next to her husband, but not before wrapping her arm tightly around the instrument case on the other side of her.

At dawn the fog thickened, creating a mist over the countryside that was dreamy and beautiful. The fog was also nature’s way of covering up dusty village streets, roaming animals, and makeshift huts, brown with filth.

And then the unthinkable happened.

Excerpt © 2011 Sheela Chari


About the book:

Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument used to be her grandmother’s—made of warm, rich wood, and intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.  When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, Neela is devastated. As she searches for it, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar-looking dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela’s intrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. If she is able to track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?

What people are saying:

“Chari, in her debut novel, strikes the right note with this engaging, intricate story that spans generations and two countries.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Indian history and culture (musical and otherwise), well-observed family and friendship dynamics, and elements of fate, luck, and tradition bring depth to this quiet but enthralling mystery.”–Publishers Weekly

“Mystery! Intercontinental intrigue! Curses! Music! Cocoa! Vanished has all that and a bag of chips. Several bags of chips, actually. Just read it!”–Adam Rex, The True Meaning of Smekday

Released: July 26, 2011

About the author:

Sheela Chari was born in Bangalore, India and has lived in Iowa, Washington State, California, Massachusetts, and New York. She has degrees from Stanford University, Boston University, and New York University, where she received an MFA in creative writing. Sheela lives in New York with her husband and two daughters. VANISHED is her first novel.