on April 12, 2011
Gone continues a story that spans, now, three novels, and it's much better than the other two (and, fortunately, you don't need them to read it).
Ritual and Skin, along with Pig Island, demonstrate that Mo Hayder is not a very consistent writer. It's hard to believe that the author of Birdman and The Devil of Nanking could have written a book as bad as Pig Island, but there it is. When Hayder is too fixated on what Stephen King calls "the gross out" (and identifies as the last resort of a good horror writer) to devote attention to consistency and coherence, her books are tiresome and embarrassing.
However, when she is good, she is very, very good. Gone comes closer to good than gross-out. Although it proceeds directly from the last page of Ritual, you don't need to know how Flea Marley ended up with something very unfortunate in her trunk, and Jack Caffrey's apparently permanent miseries do not require entire novels of backstory. Their pursuit of a kidnapper of little girls is a page-turner, and the criminal is about as revolting as most of us can imagine (except for an odd twist at the end). Flea's adventure in the tunnel seems to take up half the book, and the pages turn quickly.
I have quibbles -- It's a bit of cheat (you'll see what I mean) that we don't learn the mechanices of how someone gets impaled on a spike, and there is a bit of Hayder's trademark piling on in what happens to Flea (if you think YOU had a bad day...). As with so many of Hayder's books, the weakest link is the conclusion. She is brilliant at getting into fixes, but vague about getting out again.
I read all this, and I wonder why I bothered to give the book four stars. In part because my expectations were so low, after the disappointments of Skin and Ritual and the simple revulsion over Pig Island (there are very few books I wish I had not read; Pig Island tops the list). In part because Hayder is peddling a mixture of pace and theme at appeals to me, when she is on her game. And here, she is.
on October 31, 2010
I'm a big fan of Mo Hayder and couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. I broke my rule on the maximum I would pay for an ebook prices and handed over the $14.51 for it. Now I wish I had waited. It was just an average police procedural and certainly a let down after her previous books. What happened to her use of the macabre which was the main feature of previous books?
There was no real tension in the book as it was easy to see the twist early on. The Flea Marley character was annoying and well past her use-by date.
I hope Hayder's next book is better. I would hate to think she's already reached the peak of her writing career.
on February 23, 2011
Mo Hayder is arguably better known as an author of top-shelf mysteries in her native Great Britain than in the United States. I predict this is about to change. GONE, her latest novel published in America, is one of those books that dares you to put it down once you've started reading and then challenges you to forget it once you have finished.
GONE begins six months after the events of SKIN and is considered to be the third in the Walking Man series. British PI Jack Caffrey and police diver Phoebe "Flea" Marley are prominently featured, with both parties concealing different viewpoints of the same secret, to the detriment of what had been the beginnings of a relationship. Hayder does a wonderful job of bringing new readers up to date while refreshing the memories of those familiar with the series. He pulls this off without missing a step in advancing the story, which is terrifying from the start. The source of the terror is a masked criminal who carjacks a vehicle with an 11-year-old girl in the back seat. At first the kidnapping is thought to be accidental, but then Marley manages to connect the latest incident to two previous cases with startling similarities. Another child is soon abducted during another carjacking, yet is returned shortly thereafter.
When the incidents turn even more bizarre, Caffrey and his team are at a loss. Someone is making a fool of the police inspectors, while young, innocent lives hang in the balance. You've heard of a plot device called "the ticking clock"; GONE feels as if it has a houseful of them, all ready to chime the fateful hour in seconds, as Caffrey and his team are all too well aware that from a statistical standpoint their odds of finding a kidnap victim alive diminish dramatically after 24 hours. Then, at the height of the investigation, Marley goes missing after following up a lead on her own. Caffrey turns to the enigmatic Walking Man --- a person horribly disturbed by tragedy, brilliant by nature and homeless by choice --- and learns more than he asks for, even as lives hang in the balance. And Hayder isn't content to make this an edge-of-the-seat mystery. Everyone who walks through the pages of GONE is at least a little bit whacked --- from the police investigators to the victimized parents, the doctors on the scene, and, most of all, Caffrey and Marley, each in their own ways.
The only way you can read GONE without having every nerve in your body jumping and screaming is if you are not paying attention. I will tell you from experience that if you have children in your home, you will be sorely tempted to sleep in front of their bedroom doors at night, like the Orwellian guardians who stand ready to defend those who would harm the innocent. Hayder is a storyteller par excellence, the compendium of the camp counselors who scared the living stuffing out of their charges around the campfire while strange and frightening noises issued from the dark. Even if you think you've figured things out after the first third of the book, you haven't figured it all out. And Hayder, bless her, continues to drop charges into the water until practically the last paragraph.
If you have read her previous works, you know what I'm talking about. If you're new to her craftsmanship, read GONE and be enthralled. Strongly recommended.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
on February 24, 2013
I read the first two in the series, Birdman and The Treatment. I thought The Treatment ventured into territory that can only be described as cruelty (involving children, which made it worse), but I decided to give this one a shot because of the reviews. I stopped about 50 pages toward the end. I probably would've stuck with it had it not been for the Flea elements, which I thought were simply unreadable. Like another reviewer mentioned, I couldn't even tell what was going on, based on the author's descriptions and narrative. The book just came to a screeching halt whenever the narrative switched to that storyline. There are too many far superior crime novelists today for me to spend any more time or money on Ms. Hayder.
on March 17, 2011
Gone, by Mo Hayder, is the fifth book in a series featuring Bristol DI Jack Cafferty, and the first of hers I read. Despite four books of back story, I felt no lack or loss for jumping in at the wrong end, as Hayder gave just enough relevant information to offer a bit of depth and context without flogging a reader with past events.
This book is a harrowing journey down a swift river, and there were several times I got off the ride only to jump back on as soon as I could. Hayder's villain is given a slow reveal, crafted of skillful slight-of-hand and an accumulation of small tells. The danger is real and ever-present, and she never, ever gives you a guarantee of who is going to make it home at the end of the day.
Gone hooked me so thoroughly that I immediately started on Hayder's first book in the series, Birdman. Comparing the two shows just how far Hayder has come as a writer, and effortless her prose seems to be. I plunged through Gone because I felt I must. Not knowing was unthinkable.
If you like police procedurals and thrillers, British or otherwise, read Gone. But make sure you have an open weekend to do so, because you won't want to put it down.
on July 17, 2010
Reason for Reading: Mo Hayder ... new book ... nothing more to say.
This is an all-nighter police procedural that has Jack Caffery on the case of a supposed carjacker who takes a car with a girl in the back seat. The girl is not found and the realization is made that he didn't want the car but the girl. Then it happens again. Another car, another girl, this time much younger. With statistics showing that child abductors kill their victims sooner than later, the team is on a race against time. Flea comes to Caffery and tells him about two previous unsuccessful attempts that are identical and this helps the team start to put together a case. Separately, the book focuses of Flea, as an individual and how the events from the previous book "Skin" have affected her emotionally and on the job as she tries to put herself together but she also notices Jack's complete change in manner towards her.
The story is clever. There are turns that move the plot in different directions but guessing the identity of the culprit wasn't exactly hard, though Hayder does keep you with a tiny seed of doubt until the final reveal. A thoroughly enjoyable police procedural. But also very much tied to previous books, especially "Skin", so should not be read out of order or at least not before "Skin", since Skin's whole shocker is outed in "Gone".
Why do I give the book a rating of three if it's a clever, enjoyable police procedural? Because when I read Mo Hayder I am expecting a whole lot more than enjoyable. I have read all her books and am a huge fan. Words I usually use to describe her books are gruesome, disturbing, weird, roller-coaster ride, heart-thumping, breath-holding, twists and turns, a shocker! This book had none of those elements, aside from a few turns (only turns, no twists) and I was disappointed. Her books The Treatment and The Devil of Nanking have made me hold Hayder above other thriller writers and this one felt more like one of the crowd. Don't get me wrong, it's good and kept me up into the wee hours but I wasn't satisfied that I'd read a Mo Hayder. Not her best, by far. Another thing that got to me was what was with the happy-happy ending, Hayder's books do not have happy endings. Perhaps this is a sign that the Jack Caffery series is over.
on May 2, 2011
So I bought this book with no prior knowledge of the author and I went by the description and the existing reviews and I have to say I was disappointed. It just didn't deem like there was any real tension or drama in the book at all. I was not a fan of Flea and I felt like something was missing in a book that was about a series of kidnappings, you know? There should have been action and I, as the reader, should have felt invested in the characters, but instead I just felt vaguely bored and a growing discontent with the story as it progressed because it seemed to lack a real crescendo. I mean this is an author that has previously gotten rave reviews and I just wasn't happy with this book and I was disappointed with the plot development as well as the characters, but maybe that's just me.
Someone is taking young girls. He runs up as their mothers are about to drive off in a Santa mask and takes the girl along with the car. So far, four girls have been taken with no real progress being made on the case. He released two for reasons of his own, but the others are missing, their parents in agony.
Detective Jack Caffery heads up the case. This one is personal to him, as his own brother disappeared thirty years ago and was never found. It drove Caffery into police work and makes him the haunted, driven man that he is. That makes him a successful detective while it takes its toll on his body and spirit.
One of those searching for the girls is Flea Marley, a police diver who heads up the search and rescue team. She has a feeling about an abandoned canal, part of which is a tunnel, that is near where one of the parents' cars is found. The police mount an intensive search but nothing is found and Flea is chastised for wasting resources on a hunch. Her next hunch takes her on a solo search as she doesn't want to be wrong again and soon she is also in trouble.
The case progresses slowly and it seems the kidnapper is always one step ahead of the police. Jack even consults a strange figure, The Walking Man, who has walked the countryside for years and seems to always know something or have a way of framing problems that stirs Jack's instincts. The Walking Man also lost a daughter many years ago and searches constantly for clues about her fate.
This is the fifth in the Jack Caffery mystery series. Readers will be entranced by Hayder's involved plotting and the views into the detectives' motives and problems. The plot twists are exciting and come as a surprise to the reader. This is one of the best detective series to be found. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
on May 19, 2014
The first 300 pages of GONE are what we expect from Mo Hayder: suspense, spine-chilling excitement, twists and turns that catch us off guard. Then comes the denouement, the final 100 pages. What Hath Mo Wrought! This wonderful mystery transmogrifies into a sophomoric romantic sob story. Main characters within the book, with nothing to go on, solve the mystery at the same time as the brilliant Jack Caffery, they appear in places they have no right to, Flea, that damned Flea, becomes the focus of the novel, and it all ends absurdly. If Flea shows up in yet another Mo Hayder mystery, include me out! Ms Hayder, if you read these reviews, you'll note that your fans feel it's time to retire this very unsympathetic lover. Caffery can do much better than Flea, and flee he should. ... A warning to new readers, Ms Hayder uses many, many -- too many -- British acronyms. Though they are annoying to American readers, their exact meanings can be ignored.
on April 15, 2015
Although I guessed who was guilty soon after the beginning this was a good mystery. Near the middle of the book I changed my mind but learned I was right in the beginning. It started slow but soon picked up the pace until I couldn't put it down.