Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Already Gone" by John Rector

Jake Reese has overcome a violent, troubled youth. He is now a published author, with a university teaching post and a new wife in Diane, the love of his life. When he is attacked by two thugs who cut off his ring finger, he wonders whether something from his past has come back to haunt him. When Diane goes missing - and then turns up dead in a suspicious car accident - Jake must try to figure out what is going on. Against advice from others, he gets back in touch with Gabby, the man who raised him after his father went to jail. Gabby doesn't always operate on the right side of the law, and his involvement could make things even more complicated.

For most of its duration, "Already Gone" is a punchy, fast-paced thriller with plenty of intrigue and unforseen plot twists. The character of Jake is likeable and it is easy to get behind him when things go sour. However, it begins to get a little too convoluted for its own good, and it's eventually confusing over who did what to whom and who wanted the other dead. The motive behind the madness is also quite disappointing; I guess I was expecting something a little more startling and original, considering how strong the rest of the book was.

In fact, by the end of the proceedings, this one bears a striking similarity to "Never Look Away" by Linwood Barclay. Both involve a wife who suddenly goes missing. Later events and motives are also quite similar. If you've read "Never Look Away", by no means assume you shouldn't pick this one up as well, but be warned there's a definite sense of deja vu hovering over things here. I believe I found "Never Look Away" lacked the twists and thrills of Barclay's other novels, so if you haven't read it, this might be the better alternative, as "Already Gone" did genuinely suck me in and I read it very quickly.

My only other beef - a minor one - is how novels in this genre always seem to involve the protagonist having a close friend from the wrong side of the tracks who can operate outside the law. It's a convenient plot tactic here, since the character of Gabby manages to capture the two thugs who attacked Jake without us being told how he managed to even find them in the first place. What did he do differently that Jake couldn't have done? It's a little annoying.

Otherwise, "Already Gone" marks an effort from an author I'm looking forward to reading more from.

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