Thursday, 16 March 2017
Here and Gone by Haylen Beck
Here and Gone, Stuart Neville's first novel under the pen name, Haylen Beck, will be published by Penguin in the summer. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced review copy. The novel marks a new direction for the Northern Irish crime writer, and I delighted in following it.
The novel is set in Arizona, a far cry from Belfast, the backdrop usually favoured by Neville. And it's an idea that's simply too big for the wee city. In the opening chapters we learn that the protagonist, Audra, is driving across America to escape her abusive husband. She's about to start her new life, with her kids safely in her care. But an encounter with the law in a dying town in Arizona results in Audra's worst nightmare. Her children were here, and now they're gone. And the world is convinced that she's to blame.
While writing as Haylen Beck, Neville makes great use of the talents he honed in writing his Belfast-set books. The multi-POV narrative, and glimpses into the minds of the villains as well as the heroes, are delivered in short, breath-taking chapters that spur the reader on to make one more cup of coffee and read just three or seven more passages. The work isn't as dark as the preceding Neville canon, but it's going to get your heart pumping with suspense and well-placed action.
To be honest, I feel sorry for the readers who have to wait another three and a bit months to get their teeth into this one. Keep an eye out at your local independent bookstore for copies of Here and Gone that slip through before the release date. And thank me after you've read it. I know it won't take long.