Friday, September 26, 2014
Her sister disappeared without a trace, along with her entire family. The door was left unlocked. Their personal effects were left behind. Dinner was still cooking, burnt, with the only thing left out of place confined to a carton of milk dropped to the floor in front of a refrigerator that stood open and running.
Raker, an investigative journalist turned private investigator, had meant to return home to recover after a near fatal stabbing. But after Emily Kane pays him an unexpected visit, he trades in recovery to investigate an odd and unexplained disappearance that occurred almost a year prior.
Never Coming Back is a dark, gritty, and stodgy crime thriller.
After Kane shares her account of discovering her sister, brother-in-law, and two nieces missing despite everything being left "in place" as opposed to out of place. Immediately after her discovery, she called the police and filed a missing persons report at the station.
The police did come out, but they didn't find anything. There was nothing to be found — not in the home or on their computers and phones. And without any leads, the police eventually filed it away.
Raker, undeterred and invigorated by the prospect of having a purpose again, begins to ask questions. He knew well enough why people usually go missing. Many don't want to be found.
Never Coming Back cuts back and forth between a somewhat fictionalized version of a fishing village in Devon, England, and Las Vegas, half a world away in the United States. It also jumps back and forth between timeframes and first-person narratives and third-person passages.
Some jumps are jarring enough that readers might be initially confused by the early emphasis Weaver places on Colm Healy, a retired officer who lives with Raker. But as time presses on, Healy drifts deeper into the background until his purpose in the story becomes secondary and unclear. Eventually it evens out, landing squarely on the primary protagonist Raker.
Although Never Coming Back is fourth in a series that provides a substantial backstory to Raker, this American debut can be read as a standalone. It's an enjoyable introduction, despite Weaver allowing Raker to miss a few clues (because he is human) and an overzealous confidence in understanding Las Vegas after only one visit (which is why I typically avoid novels set here).
A few more graphs about the promise in author Tim Weaver.
Despite being fourth in the series, Never Coming Back was chosen as an American debut after the book was nominated for a National Book Award in the United Kingdom and was voted 2013's Best Crime Thriller by the Apple iBookstore. It was also selected by Richard and Judy, which is the UK's biggest and most prestigious book club.
Never Coming Back By Tim Weaver Lands 6.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
It's largely because of the dark, near-noir feel of the thriller that makes it easy to overlook the shortcomings and become galvanized by the methodic but imperfect investigative work of Raker. Even the cause of the primary disappearance, which one would think would be played out by now, somehow manages to escape criticism and deliver on an increasingly tense plot line.
Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver is available from Amazon. You can also find the book on iBooks from Apple or as an audiobook on iTunes. The audiobook is narrated by David Bauckham, who manages to find a voice for Raker but struggles to find a voice for the balance of the cast. Never Coming Back is also available from Barnes & Noble.