four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
52-May-June-2011
By: 
Mo Hayder
user_rating: 
0

A-GoneThe fifth installment in popular British crime novelist Mo Hayder's Walking Man series (after Birdman [2000], The Treatment [2001], Ritual [2008], and Skin [2009]) finds the author at the top of her form as a serial child kidnapper threatens the serenity of Bristol and awakens old memories for detective Jack Caffery.

The Story: When a man in a Santa Claus mask abducts 11-year-old Martha Bradley in an apparent carjacking, the incident dredges up long-buried memories of a missing brother for Bristol's Detective Inspector Jack Caffery. Martha is not the first to disappear (though she is the first not to be returned), and a disturbing pattern begins to emerge. Still, the kidnapper, who shows no signs of stopping his spree, frustrates the investigation with ease. When Phoebe "Flea" Marley, director of the department's Underwater Search Unit and Caffery's erstwhile lover, disappears herself, Caffery turns to the mysterious, troubled Walking Man for guidance.
HarperCollins. 415 pages. $24. ISBN:9780553824339

Montreal Gazette 4 of 5 Stars
"Hayder's well-defined characters help move along a tight plot. As the lone abduction morphs into an all-out spree, the author's story comes to an unlikely and surprising conclusion." Francois Lauzon

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"For once the visceral thrills don't come at the expense of character. By giving her villain the intelligence to inflict as much emotional as physical pain, Hayder makes him less of a monster and more of a terror." Marilyn Stasio

Times (UK) 4 of 5 Stars
"Mo Hayder's specialty, from her bleak and brilliant debut Birdman on, has been a particularly potent blend of terror and horror to create a suspense that not only grips her readers by the scruff of the neck but takes a firm hold on their intestines, too. ... Child kidnapping is an easy way to grab hold of our emotions and Hayder does it well, but she also subtly manages to make a mockery of our own--and Caffery's--predictability." Peter Millar

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"It's a tribute to Hayder's powers as a suspense writer that she completely turns the over-familiar premise of this novel inside out and upside down. The more pages of Gone that we captivated readers turn, the farther away we get from clich├ęd thriller conventions." Maureen Corrigan

Critical Summary

After seven novels (Pig Island [2006] and The Devil of Nanking [2010], in addition to the Walking Man books), Mo Hayder continues to set herself apart in the crowded crime genre by defying readers' expectations and by offering edgy plots, complex characters, and sharp prose. Seemingly immune to the ebbs and flows typical of crime series as they explore the darker sides of their main characters, the Walking Man books continue to surprise, and Jack Caffery has become one of the most complex protagonists in contemporary crime fiction. Hayder never drives in the middle of the road--her take on child abduction in Gone is as full of twists and turns as a grand prix circuit--which should please even her most devoted fans and captivate new ones.

First in the Series

Birdman (2000): Detective Inspector Caffery is on the trail of a serial killer who mutilates his victims in gruesome fashion. Not for the faint of heart.