Written by Tim Weaver — David Raker searches for people. Lost people. Forgotten people. Men, women and children who have just disappeared and have been spirited from the lives of their families. Lost souls, shadows, whose cases have been consigned to a filing cabinet by the authorities.
Raker is a former investigative journalist who knows pain and suffering. He watched helplessly while his wife died a lingering death from cancer, and he is now experiencing raw physical pain himself, having been clinically dead for several minutes after being stabbed at the climax of a previous investigation. Formerly based in London, he has retreated to his parents’ old home on the Devon coast to recuperate, and to rebuild his shattered mind and body, but The Missing are still his life.
Sharing the rugged stone cottage with Raker is Colm Healy. Healy has been sacked from the Metropolitan Police for one indiscretion too many. His personal life is as big a car crash as his career. His wife has left him, and his two sons will no longer speak to him. Bitter, self destructive and volcanic of temper, Healy is not the soothing companion that Raker needs to aid his recovery, but friends are friends, and Healy is the reason why Raker’s ashes are not now scattered in some suburban Garden of Remembrance.
As winter closes in, and storms lash the Devon coast, a boy out crabbing on the sea shore discovers a body washed up on the rocks. Before long, both Raker and Healy are drawn into the mystery, despite being told by the local police to keep their distance.
In an apparently unconnected development, Raker is approached by an ex-sweetheart from his college days. Her sister, husband, and two daughters have disappeared. After several weeks of fruitless investigation, the police have consigned the case not just to the back burner, but the deep freeze. Raker discovers that their house was found in a Marie Celeste-like state. Half-eaten meals, a refrigerator with its door left open, and with wallets and purses left untouched. Raker digs and digs. He calls in old favours. He enlists the services of a terrifyingly clever computer hacker. He pushes and prods. He discovers mesmerising links between Las Vegas high-rollers, a lost cliff-top village, a multi-national corporation, and a Nazi WWII death camp.
Tim Weaver has always handled action well across the Raker series, and this is wonderful, escapist, implausible, rough-and-tumble stuff. Our hero is shot at, battered and beaten half to death, but he bounces back after each assault, energised and more resolute than ever. The villains strut, sneer and snarl and all but twirl their moustaches while crying, “Aha!”
Raker doesn’t bump into too many good people in the course of this adventure, but the few decent folk he does encounter are described with a convincing warmth and affection. The story-telling is little short of brilliant. Until quite late in the book, there seems to be an unresolvable number of loose connections, but they all fasten together with a very satisfying ‘click’ by the end. I am no connoisseur of plot twists, but I can’t remember a book where they were so startling – and convincing. Apart from one odd lapse in continuity when Raker carelessly appears to lose a Glock pistol between one scene and the next, I couldn’t fault this book.
Never Coming Back will be published on 29 August.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars