Barclay, Linwood: Never Look Away
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David Harwood is a good guy with a good life which, when Linwood Barclay's Never Look Away opens, is about to be upended. David's a reporter at the Promise Falls Standard, a small-town paper that's staving off bankruptcy by outsourcing its coverage of local politics offshore. David, who's still serious about his job, is looking into corruption involving local government officials and a private prison firm that's anxious to move into the area. A second source of concern for David is his wife Jan's recent bout with depression. We don't find out for some time what's at the root of her problems, but it's connected to what happens in Barclay's nail-biter of a prologue: the Harwood's trip to an amusement park with their four-year-old son is the start of David's nightmare. A missing person's case morphs into a murder investigation, and there winds up being enough circumstantial evidence around to bury our hero.
I've read and enjoyed a number of Linwood Barclay's other thrillers, and Never Look Away ranks among the best of them. The author keeps us guessing with plot twist after plot twist: you may figure out some of what's going on ahead of time, but for sure you won't unravel all of it. The pacing is perfect. My only reservation about the book is that I don't quite buy one of the story's last surprises: I don't want to give anything away, but someone does something very bad, and I'm not convinced the person would really be capable of it.
If you like books of this sort--an average, Jimmy Stewart kind of guy finds himself stuck in a nightmare--do check out Barclay's shelfful of novels. He writes a mean page-turner.