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goneWritten by Mo Hayder —  On the eve of this year’s Edgar awards, we bring you a review of a book by one of last year’s big winners, Mo Hayder. Gone begins with a carjacking, but in the back of the car was a 12-year-old girl. Detective Jack Caffery is positive that the girl will be dropped off unharmed, but as the hours tick by, he begins to fear the worst.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Flea Marley is starting to suffer a bit of personal backlash for a series of blunders made by her Underwater Search Unit (USU). She’s also carrying some very personal guilt from a horrible situation involving her brother and a woman’s disappearance. When she hears of the newest carjacking, she knows that the carjacker isn’t in it for the car, and it isn’t the first time he’s struck.

Flea approaches Jack about the previous carjackings, all of which include the very important detail that in each instance, a young girl was in the back of the car. However the girls were eventually dropped off safe and sound. So, Jack gathers a team of promising detectives and gets to work, digging into the lives of the families whose children have disappeared. It’s tedious and exhaustive work and they don’t seem to be getting any closer to identifying the who dons a Santa mask, waits until the mothers are distracted, and takes their cars and their children, right out from under their noses.

It also doesn’t help that Jack is having to keep one of his team members away from the case of a socialite who vanished without a trace recently. As Jack and his team dives into the family’s histories, and the old case files of the missing girls, Flea pursues her own line of investigation solo. When she discovers something in an abandoned tunnel that might be connected to the case, she inadvertently puts herself in danger, and not a soul knows where she is. Well, someone actually does, but they’re not talking.

If you’re familiar with Mo Hayder’s work, you’ll know that no case is ever straightforward and there is never a simple solution. Such is the case with Gone. As we follow the investigations, we get to know the families of the victims, and in the case of one family, quite intimately. There is never any extraneous information in Mo Hayder’s stories. Every detail means something and is important, and there is always a connection to be made. She leaves plenty of clues for her readers, but she’s the rare author that can string so many events together and not leave any holes. There are none in Mo Hayder’s narratives, and because I’m so connected to her characters, five books into the Jack Caffery series, she holds my heart in the palm of her hand.

Playing things for shock value isn’t anything new in the thriller realm, but Hayder makes the shocks plausible, engaging, and sometimes, even heartbreaking. Gone is probably the scariest and harrowing of her books, and maybe this has something to do with me being a parent, and able to relate to the misery that these parents go through. I dare you to read this one, then not dive immediately into Poppet, the next book in the series.


CFL Rating: 5 Stars

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