Here and Gone is the first novel by Northern Irish crime novelist and screenwriter, Haylen Beck (aka Stuart Neville). Audra Kinney is on the run, with her ten-year-old son Sean and six-year-old daughter, Louise. En route from New York (and an abusive husband) to San Diego, she’s pulled over by a Sheriff in Arizona for a minor traffic violation. But suddenly, things go pear-shaped and she’s under arrest. Her kids are shepherded into the Deputy’s car; later, these two officers deny having seen Sean and Louise, and Audra’s nightmare begins in earnest.
When Daniel Lee chances to catch the news item about the missing children and their jailed mother, the story immediately resonates for him, and he can’t resist the urge to travel to Arizona to investigate. He’s not surprised by what he encounters, but convincing the people that matter is no easy task.
Beck uses multiple narrators to tell his gripping tale. This ensures that the reader is never in any doubt as to where the children are, who took them and why. What keeps the pages turning is the if and how of their fate. Few of his characters are one-dimensional: the various law enforcement officers are determined but not immune to doubt; not all the kidnappers are entirely lacking feelings of guilt; and Lee’s motives are far from pure.
Audra is a character with a less than stellar background, but the strength of her maternal love is reinforced with each hurdle. Her determination is echoed in her son’s instinctive protection of his sister. His radar for danger sees him as much of a hero as his mother. This is a page-turner with several twists and turns and more than one exciting climax. A brilliant read that’s hard to put down.