Friday, July 21, 2017

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Reviewed by Brenda G.

          A fast-moving and powerful novel about the abuse of power and child sex-trafficking, though thankfully without the gruesome details. Escaping a bad marriage, Audra Kinney is driving west with her children when she is stopped by the local sheriff. He claims to find marijuana in her trunk, which he searches without permission. (No marijuana was there.) He calls another officer, female, to take charge of the children and takes Audra to jail. When she asks about her children, the sheriff remarks that she was alone and he saw no children. Her nightmare experience grows.  She is accused of killing her children and leaving them in the desert.

Audra’s troubles are receiving wide media coverage.  Her wealthy estranged husband appears. He besmirches her name and offers a reward. Another man is watching, a Chinese-American man named Danny Lee whose wife had a similar experience five years earlier. His daughter, who his wife said was taken by police, was never seen again, and his wife killed herself shortly afterward.  Danny is in search of those who took his daughter and is seeking revenge. Reporters, law officers, Audra, her ex-husband, and Danny all converge on a tiny town in Arizona.

It would be lovely to exist in a world in which events such as those depicted in this book did not happen. A world in which a Dark Web used by sex traffickers and other criminals did not exist. A world in which child pornography was not even an ugly rumor. We do not live in that world. In our world, everything depicted in this book is plausible. The author Haylen Beck, a pseudonym for Stuart Neville, presents a dark and frightening tale and tells it well. It may also make us wonder the next time we see and hear a similar tale in the media.  What really happened, we may ask. I hope we do ask.

Beck, Haylen. Here and Gone : a novel. New York : Crown, 2017. 287 pages

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