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Never Look Away: A Thriller Mass Market Paperback – July 19, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 279 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2010 With a storyline that's wound tighter than a rattlesnake's coil, author Linwood Barclay returns to play upon our deepest fears with Never Look Away. Journalist David Harwood is left only with questions after a family outing becomes a terrifying nightmare in the mere blink of an eye. Someone, it would seem, is out to get him, and when suspicious evidence labels him a “person of interest” in a mysterious disappearance, the unassuming Harwood is forced to bare his teeth in pursuit of the truth. Fans of Fear the Worst, Too Close to Home, and No Time for Goodbye should already know the drill: Barclay refuses to grant readers any respite with gut-wrenching plot twists that keep firing until the final page. But those unfamiliar with his work would be wise to clear their calendars for this engaging non-stop thriller. --Dave Callanan

Amazon Exclusive: Linwood Barclay on Never Look Away

Years ago, when I worked on the city desk for The Toronto Star, every once in a while someone would phone in with a hot tip. Something they’d heard from a friend of a friend. The story was that children were being spirited away from a local theme park. Grabbed, disguised, thrown into a van and driven away so fast their parents hadn’t even noticed they were gone yet.

And the kicker was, the story was being suppressed because the theme park owners didn’t want bad publicity.

There was never, ever anything to it. I’d worked in the news business long enough to know that when a kid goes missing. That story gets out. Big time.

Our theme park was not the only one where this urban myth played out. I’d heard the same story about a number of big attractions. But never with any real names attached. It always happened to the boyfriend of someone’s cousin’s brother’s boss.

But the story stayed with me just the same. I started playing around with it in my head. I thought, okay, let’s start with the myth, but then let’s do something entirely different. Someone’s going to disappear, all right, but not the person you’re expecting...

As I began working out the storyline for my new thriller, Never Look Away, the amusement park scene became a way in to a very different kind of tale for me. One about secrets, about past, hidden lives, about how sometimes the people we’re closest to are the ones we know the least. One significant way in which it differs from my previous novels is that it is not told entirely in first person. This time, there were things I had to keep from my protagonist that the reader just had to know.

That time on the city desk was part of more than 30 years I spent working in newspapers. It was a period in which papers mattered a great deal. They still do, but it’s hardly news to point out they’re facing tough times, a perfect storm of changing technology meeting harsh economic realities. So when it came to deciding what that protagonist would do for a living, I decided to make him a reporter at a small daily that’s more concerned with maintaining revenues than breaking scandals, especially if breaking them will hurt the bottom line. (I like to point out, I never encountered anything like that at The Star.)

I was well into writing this novel when Michael Connelly’s terrific novel The Scarecrow came out, which is also set against the backdrop of a newspaper in decline. I suspect these will not be the only two novels to explore--either in depth or in a tangential way--the significant changes this institution is going through.

Another urban myth that used to get called into the paper now and again was that some unscrupulous developer was building houses so cheaply, someone’s piano went right through the living room floor. We never found that house, but there might still be a murder mystery in that story, especially if there was some poor bastard in that basement. --Linwood Barclay

--This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bestseller Barclay's outstanding thriller, his fourth stand-alone after Fear the Worst, opens with what should be a happy family outing—a trip to an amusement park. Shortly after newspaper reporter David Harwood; his wife, Jan; and their four-year-old son, Ethan, arrive at Five Mountains in upper New York State, Ethan disappears. A frantic Jan goes to find security, while David soon locates Ethan nearby asleep in his stroller. But now Jan is missing. What's more, the park has no record of selling her a ticket, and she doesn't show up on any security video. Nor is she at home in Promise Falls, N.Y. While the police suspect David killed Jan and concocted the park abduction story, he uses his reporting skills to dig into his wife's past and learns he never really knew her. The tension mounts as Barclay skillfully shows how even the most innocent action can seem suspicious. The surprising twists and appealing characters rank this among the author's best. 5-city author tour. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Reprint edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553591746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553591743
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (279 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Denise Crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have read all of Linwood Barclay's back-list and I must say that this one is better than the last two and I'm relieved that he's pulled back a little with the unbelievable endings and returned to writing a taut mystery thriller that is both fast paced and suspenseful. I found both Fear the Worst: A Thriller and Too Close to Home: A Thriller to be just way too over the top and am glad that Barclay has returned to a style similar to the one used with what I consider to be my favorite of his novels, No Time for Goodbye. Yeah, all his books require a bit of suspension of disbelief at the scenarios, but the main character -- almost consistently a family man with a wife and child -- is usually a sympathetic protagonist and one whom you want to see get to the bottom of the mystery.

In this novel, newspaper reporter David Harwood is investigating what might be corruption with regard to a new privatized prison that is being hawked as the next best thing for the small town of Promise Falls, New York. He's married to Jan and they have a 4 year old son named Ethan. One day, while they're at an amusement park, one of them disappears!! David races from place to place to figure out what is going on and, although several subplots are brewing simultaneously, the energy and the narrative keep the reader glued to the pages. Even though the reader knows what is happening and why, it's a fun romp to the end.

If you like a good mystery thriller, you'll enjoy this one. Recommend.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Linwood Barclay excells are writing books in which the average middle class guy (a car salesman in Fear the Worst: A Thriller , a newspaper reporter in this book) has his whole life turned upside down and is thrust into a world of crime, violence and intrigue. His books remind me of the old-fashioned film noire style except these are quicker and have even more turns.

In "Never Look Away", David Harwood is a reporter with a wife, a son, two loving parents who babysit their son and a hot lead on signs of corruption in local government that will make an explosive story. Suddenly, his wife disappears at a local theme park and he is accused of causing her disappearance.

More problems pile on and the pressure makes David and his world crumble.

There is a point in which the reader says, "What? Even more happens to this guy?"

Does it get ridiculous?


More importantly, does the story work?


This is a real page turner. I found myself losing real chunks of time if I picked this book up during my morning routine. I was nearly late to work two days in a row because I had to keep reading a little bit more.

I look forward to the next one, Mr. Barclay.
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Format: Hardcover
David Harwood has been working on a story of Star Spangled Corrections, a privately run correctional corporation, wanting to build a prison in his town. David has records of payoffs of politicians but his editors delay in publishing it.

One day, David, his wife Jan, and their four year old son, Ethan, go to an amusement park. As they approach the front gate, Jan remembers something in the car and tells David she'll meet him inside. She never shows.

After alerting park officials and doing an extensive search, police are called in and after a bit begin to suspect that David did something to his wife.

Things are baffeling and the reader wonders how they could be. But the author is providing a cover for his clever plot.

David is a smypathetic character. His plight is tragic but we also witness what his wife is up to and wonder how a reporter like David can't see things more clearly. Jan is a true Machiavellian figure, out only for herself. She's totally unlikable but this is part of the author's intent so we feel worse for her husband.

The plot is magnificent. Barklay is like a master fisherman, casting lines in different spots and then reeling them back with a story that catches the reader's breath.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Ok, this book was just silly and not worth really reading. The beginning was suspenseful because you really, really, wanted to know what happened to his wife and find out the truth about his wife's parents...but then once you found out mid-section of the book that this chick was alive and had a stolen identity even then it was like okay...understood...still can be interesting...but what just did it for me was his wife had the nerve to leave her husband and her SON to be with some sorry loser fresh out of prison from a 5 year bid and they both on the run over some diamonds nonsense and because she just wanted some money to relax on a beach...who chooses a life like that, unless she has some serious mental issues...it's just crazy. The only thing that was interesting about this story was how a lot of the characters all seemed to be connected to the mystery.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Harper, a reporter working for a small town newspaper, is worried about his wife Jan as she is becoming more and more withdrawn and depressed, and confesses having had suicidal thoughts. He is therefore relieved when Jan surprises him with a family pass to a newly opened amusement park for the couple and their four-year-old son. However, the family outing soon turns into his worst nightmare, when Jan vanishes from the park and David himself becomes a suspect in her disappearance. Frantically searching for the truth, David suspects that a story on political corruption he has recently been working on may be linked to his wife's disappearance. But is it?

Told from the viewpoint of various different characters, the reader soon learns that there is more to the mystery behind Jan's disappearance than first meets the eye. Which is probably the biggest issue I had with this book. After having revealed the central "mystery" very early in the book, the story lost a lot of its momentum as David struggles to discover what the reader already knows - which takes up the entire second half of the book. And whilst there are a few lose ends and questions left unanswered, they did not pack enough punch to keep me captivated. Once the element of surprise was lost, the many parallel storylines and false leads running through the book may have provided background information, but had lost their power to carry any weight.

There is also the danger of revealing the dark side of central characters to soon - rendered unlikeable too early in the piece, I no longer really cared what happens to them. So whilst I did finish the book, there was no longer any real urgency to do so. All in all, "Never Look Away" was a readable albeit somewhat disappointing story. It filled in time on a long plane flight, but will certainly not make it on my list of memorable reads.
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