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In the fifth riveting entry in the series featuring haunted homicide detective Jack Caffery, his latest case seems to be a routine carjacking. But as the investigation proceeds, it becomes clear that the Jacker was really after the 11-year-old girl in the backseat and, what’s more, is taunting police with the threat that he will strike again.
He is so far ahead of the unit at every step that the investigation is continually being stymied, and Jack suspects the Jacker is privy to inside information. As the Walking Man, a vagrant with whom Jack has a special connection, tells him, the kidnapper “is cleverer than any of the others you’ve brought to me.” Meanwhile, police diver Flea Marley is recklessly ignoring protocol in her search for the missing girl and finds herself trapped in an underwater cavern. Hayder keeps the tension high as she switches between the distraught parents and the stressed-out investigators.
The meticulously crafted plot is heightened by Hayder’s skillful evocation of mood as she summons the specter of a highly intelligent criminal who is taking great satisfaction from every parent’s worst nightmare. A captivating thriller. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hayder has been threatening to vault from cult favorite to mainstream smash for a few books now, and this one—aided by a full-dress marketing campaign—may be the one to make the jump. –Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
Hayder is a consistent writer in this genre, some character interactions in this thriller begun in the previous novel, Skin. DI Jack Caffrey of Bristol’s Major Crime Investigation Unit is dealing with a carjacking turned more ominous, an eleven year old girl, Martha Bradley, the subject of an intensive search by law enforcement that delivers few early results. Ironically, it is Sergeant Flea Marley, head of the Underwater Search Unit, who injects a new perspective into the case. That a budding mutual interest has turned frosty between Jack and Flea only adds to the emotional conflicts simmering just below the surface of an increasingly disturbing case. And other characters, Jack’s team in particular, provide yet another set of problems for the seasoned detective. A slender thread weaves throughout the story, one Hayder pulls taut for a chilling denouement.
It would be easy to fall into stereotypes in a drama between good guys and bad, the tough detective, the flare of attraction stifled by circumstances, Flea’s need to prove her team still has what it takes and Caffrey’s poignant meetings with the elusive “Walking Man”, a source of comfort and wisdom when the ugliness of the world is too great a burden for Jack to carry alone. Caffrey is a protagonist readers can track from one book to another without losing interest, a man not unaware of his own failings, driven to rescue the helpless from predators. And there is nothing more compelling than a child at risk, parents in anguished limbo until they learn their children’s fate.
To make it even creepier (Hayder is a master of creepiness), the author ratchets up an ambiance of inherent menace as Flea Marley glides through underwater tunnels in search of Martha, instincts honed by experience telling her to follow a network of tunnels and silt, a dark netherworld where Flea is most at home- and most in danger. While Caffrey desperately tries to connect motive and suspect, Marley mirrors his quest, only her search may well become her own watery grave and a little girl may be in her final resting place. Luan Gaines/2010.
Book review: Hackneyed rules of suspense disappear in Hayder’s ‘Gone’
The Washington Post Book World – February 12, 2011 (Excerpt)
The cover of Mo Hayder’s latest novel, “Gone,” shows the back of a little girl on a tricycle, pedaling off into the void. Not promising. Putting together the other available clues (the none-too-subtle title of the book, the plot summary on the book jacket), I deduced that this was yet another suspense story about vanished children. If it’s possible for a subject to be at once horrifying and humdrum, this is the one.
Why this ongoing obsession in fiction with disappearing children? The subject is to contemporary literature what a maiden’s loss of virginity was to the 18th-century novel – a core cultural anxiety that informs plots high- and low-brow. So common is this nightmare that it’s become somewhat threadbare – which is why “Gone” didn’t appeal, at first. But when I started reading, I discovered that the thing I was most dreading – that hoary plot – turned out to be the novel’s greatest pleasure. [Read the full article...]
Queen of Misfortune
A Lady Jane Grey Novel by Peter Carroll
Queen Of Misfortune is the fictional story of Lady Jane Grey as told by her beloved tutor, John Aylmer. At the time of her execution a stranger is recorded to have assisted her when, blind folded, she lost her way upon the scaffold. Was it the same ‘stranger’ who was also recorded to have visited her when she was imprisoned in the Tower? Little is known of this unfortunate girl who was beheaded for treason in the 16th Century. She was only 16. She is omitted from the list of monarchs but was actually queen for nine days. Author Peter Carroll, in his novel, follows John Aylmer’s close relationship with Jane as her tutor and later, as she grows up, her lover. [More...]
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