BOOK REVIEW: Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother's desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she's pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they're gone than she must have done something with them... Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

Heavens to Betsy I wanted to love this book.  I needed to love this book.  With the description it came with, I mean it was right up my alley right?  Yes...and no.  I could almost hear 'Hotel California' playing softly on the radio as Audra and her children are making their way across the back roads of Arizona in the heat of a summer afternoon.  A sleazy feeling sheriff, a flimsy excuse to pull someone over and a random search through the belongings just to 'help them out'?  All reeked of stupidity and a touch of despair (on the part of the officer).  And Audra's desperation, as well, to protect herself, her children, and get where they were headed without being tracked from what they were running from.  But it all goes sideways, and makes national news, when according to law enforcement there were no children when she was pulled over.  It's sketchy at best but it's what makes news.  That and of course who is going to believe a former addict running from a life and potential legal issues back in New York over decorated law enforcement that also happens to be former military?  Yeah, Mom is a loser here.

This book hit the right notes but in the wrong key.  The plot was intense, the story raced in all the right places and crept along where it should have.  The descriptions pulled you in to the location, mostly.  The characters, while developed and strong were just missing something.  I missed a connection, a sparkle, I don't know how to describe it.  I mean I loved and rooted for the right people at the right times and despised the right people at the right times and even felt ambivalent where I should have.  But it just wasn't 'there' for me.  It was good, engaging but somehow missed the step to amazing.  That and of course some things I really wanted to know, deserved to know, where wrapped up off screen and I am left with a hole of what happens with Danny.  And I'm truly sorry for that because again, I need to love this book.

And I did love it.  I loved the twists and turns of the story line.  I loved the strength of Sean, the desperation of Audra, the sleaziness of Whiteside, and the hardened tenderness of Collins.  Yes even Collins tugged at my heart a tad.  The story itself, pulled me in, kept me engaged and had me rolling through every twist and turn.  Through every sweat soaked, heart wrenching moment.  I wanted to love this book, I needed to love this book.  I liked it a whole lot but the love fell just a moment short. I'd completely read this author again.  I want to read this author again. 

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Blogging for Books.  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review. 

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Here and Gone
About Haylen Beck
Haylen Beck is the pen name of internationally prize-winning crime writer Stuart Neville. Writing under his own name, Stuart won the LA Times Book Prize for his debut novel and received critical acclaim for his Serena Flanagan detective series set in Belfast. His Haylen Beck novels are set in the US and inspired by his love of American crime writing.

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