Monday, 23 December 2013

Never Coming Back - review

Never Coming Back is the first thriller by Tim Weaver that I've read, and I came to it fresh, not knowing anything about either the author or his protagonist, an investigator called David Raker who specialises in finding missing people. It is, you might say, an "airport thriller", a chunky holiday read. But to say that is not to damn it with faint praise. I thought Weaver did a good job, and I'm not surprised the book is evidently selling very well. I'll be very glad to read more of his books.

The central mystery is: what happened to a family of four which disappeared from home one evening, never to return? There was no obvious reason why Paul, Carrie and their two daughters should suddenly vanish from sight. But Emily Kane, an old flame of Raker's, is Carrie's sister, and she wants him to find the answer. We are also presented with a couple of other puzzles, one dating back to a visit Raker paid to Las Vegas, and one concerning the discovery of a man's remains on a beach. Naturally, they all prove to be connected.

One of the things that appealed to me about Tim Weaver's book is that here is a writer setting his fiction in Britain, yet trying to compete with the likes of Harlan Coben and Lee Child, who take advantage of the much wider geographical canvas presented by the United States. Weaver displays considerable skill in the way he structures his puzzle, and I particularly liked his use of a "lost village", one of those mysterious places that always seem so fascinating.

As is sometimes the case with modern American thrillers, there was a touch of sentimentality in the story, especially arising from the final unexpected twist, but this didn't lessen my enjoyment. Of course, Weaver piles on the coincidences, and the central device, which involves a photograph, struck me as a little far-fetched. but by and large, I think he gets away with it. The pace and verve of the narrative swept me along. A good thriller, then, and an author's name to bear in mind. Especially if you're off on holiday and are in search of some enjoyable light entertainment.

On another note, tomorrow I'm offering something seasonal - a guest blog about ghost stories...

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