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Here and Gone: A Novel by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone: A Novel

by Haylen Beck

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Here and Gone is a child jeopardy thriller, a popular trope in the suspense/thriller genre because nothing creates more anxiety than our fears of children being lost, stolen, or harmed. This novel plucks every nerve of anxiety and paranoia.

Audra is driving through Arizona on her way to California when she is pulled over by a small-town sheriff who arrests her for drug possession after illegally searching her trunk and finding marijuana that was not put there by her. Arresting her, he has a deputy come and take the children to where they will be safe and calls for a tow for her car. After she’s booked, she asks the Sheriff where the deputy took the children and he replies, “What children?”

A brilliant beginning that had be immediately captivated and eager to see her vindicated and her children back safe and sound. Soon the F.B.I. and the State Police are all questioning Audra asking her what she did with the children and the American media has her convicted of murdering her children in a news frenzy similar to JonBenet Ramsey. Search parties are looking for bodies, not the children she is certain are alive. The Sheriff and Deputy have the power of the law and that credibility that makes her seem unhinged to the FBI officer Mitchell leading the federal investigation.

Meanwhile in San Francisco, Danny sees the news that painfully parallels what happened to his wife, a tragedy that led her to kill herself. He is certain the same thing is happening again – corrupt pedophiles using the dark net pay corrupt law enforcement officers to steal children so that the parents are suspected of murder. This is not a spoiler, we know this very early in the book when the pedophiles chat about their upcoming acquisition in their dark net forum. He goes to Arizona to see if by helping Audra, he might find out what happened to his daughter five years ago.

This is not a mystery, this is a thriller. We know who did it and why, we even know how they did it. The only question is whether Audra and Danny can find the children in time and win the day.

After its brilliant opening, Here and Gone went downhill pretty quickly. Audra is repeatedly told she has no right to a lawyer because she has not been arrested or indicted. That refers to the Sixth Amendment right to counsel that does not attach until court proceedings begin, but we have right to counsel from both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. The Fifth Amendment right to counsel attaches during custodial interrogation and they were interrogating her. She was not free to leave. She had right to counsel.

But that is not what disappointed me the most. It was Audra whose life fell to pieces when she married Patrick who made her become an alcoholic by buying wine and putting it in the fridge. He did not open the bottle or pour it in a glass. She did that on her own. He also had a doctor prescribe pills to help her sleep and so on. She took them gladly. She became addicted, was hospitalized after what appeared to be an overdose. I get that her husband was awful and so was her mother-in-law and yes, he was an abusive, controlling monster. But he did not pour the alcohol down her throat. Eventually she quits drinking and pills, after a nun tells her that her husband was an enabler. He was not an enabler, he was an abuser. But buying a bottle of wine does not make anyone an addict without their full cooperation. It’s a terrible message and makes for an unsympathetic heroine.The back story is just bizarre and does not make me sympathetic to Audra. Also, the idea that she is then instantly better once she knows why she’s drinking (bad husband made her do it) is one of those things that get most books tossed.

There was one bright spot, Audra’s son Sean. I would read a book about him.He has pluck and brains. He is self-controlled, observant and perseveres. I am unhappy that his efforts to save himself and his sister result on delaying their rescue with more casualties and violence. They would have been better off if he had sat crying in the corner. That is another aggravation with the story. Grit should not be punished, particularly with kids.

The dark net forum is a bit bizarre as well. There’s a new person who does not follow the protocols. There’s squabbling like any online group…and impolitic chatter from the new member. This would lead me to infer that it was possibly infiltrated, which might have been an interesting way to complicate the overly simplistic plot. After all, we know who did it and why…so it’s just a matter of switching the balance of power to win, it’s disappointing that there was not some third wedge into the conspiracy.

Anyway, the police are corrupt. The state police and most of the FBI are sexist, brutal men operating at about 14% capacity. The subordinate FBI agent would die if he had to think in order to breathe. Even the competent agent is not that competent and is more reactive that proactive. It’s disappointing all around.

So yes, this book began with a brilliant premise, but it was frittered away with one-dimensional characters, an aggravating backstory, and a simplistic plot that disappoints again and again.

Here and Gone will be released July 13th. I received an e-galley for review from the publisher through NetGalley.

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/9780451499578/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Jun 20, 2017 |
This book was really hard to put down. I knew that this was a book that I needed to read just as soon as I read the description. I love a good mystery thriller and the fact the it sounded like the local police couldn't be trusted was a very interesting twist. Once I started reading, I was immediately hooked. When I wasn't reading, I was thinking about this story and what I would have done if I were in Audra's place. I really enjoyed the time I spent reading this book.

Audra is driving across the U.S. on her way to California with her two children, Sean and Louise. She is pulled over by the police just outside a small town in Arizona called Silver Water. Before Audra even knows what is happening she is asked to step out of her car while Sheriff Whiteside starts looking through her trunk. Drugs are found and she is taken to jail. A deputy is called and her kids are taken away to what Audra is promised is a safe place. When she asks about her kids later at the jail, the Sheriff tells her that she didn't have any kids with her when she was pulled over.

The book's description does tell readers the basic set up of the story and I had a pretty good idea of where the book would end up but I had no idea how it would get there. The story really did make me think about a lot of things. I don't know how you would be able to prove your innocence in a situation like this. The media was another huge part of the story since they put Audra in a very unfavorable light. I also couldn't stop thinking about how Audra could get someone to take her seriously. Even though the events in the story weren't a total shock, the journey was entertaining.

I did like the characters in this book a lot and liked the fact that the book is told from different points of view. Audra really does care about her kids but is the first to admit that she has not always been a great mother. She is committed to being the best she can be at this point in her life. I thought that the part of the book that talked about her past were very well done. Part of the story is told from Sean's point of view. He is only 11 years old but has a certain maturity to him. He senses when things seem wrong and jumps into to care for his younger sister during the ordeal. There were also a few parts told from Danny and Sheriff Whiteside's point of views that added to the overall story.

I would highly recommend this book to others. This book moved really fast and I was never quite sure what would happen next. I found myself having a very hard time setting this one aside because I was completely invested in the story. This is the first book by Haylen Beck that I have read but look forward to more works in the future.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Crown Publishing Group via NetGalley, Blogging for Books, and First to Read. ( )
  Carolesrandomlife | Jun 7, 2017 |
Blog post due: June 13, 2017
  ZaraD.Garcia-Alvarez | Jun 6, 2017 |
Are you looking for a summer thriller read for your beach bag? Here and Gone by Haylen Beck is one I couldn't put down!

Audra Kinney has finally found the courage to leave her abusive husband. She and her two kids - Sean and Louise - are driving to California to stay with a friend of Audra's. She's sticking to back roads - her vehicle isn't in great shape and she's sure her husband will have alerted the authorities. When a sheriff pulls her over in Arizona, she figures that's exactly what has happened. Arrested and taken to the local jail, she asks where her children are. And here's the showstopper .....the cops say there were no children with her when they arrested her. Uh-huh. Great premise eh?!

Here and Gone reads like a thriller action movie. (And apparently film rights have been optioned) Beck's crooked sheriff is a piece of work - he's so very easy to hate. His attitude, his posturing and his scheming will make your skin crawl. His sidekick is no better. Audra is a great, likeable protagonist - the reader is firmly in her camp, urging her on.

Audra has been pushed around for years by her husband, but after finally finding the courage to leave her husband, there's no way she's going to accept what's happening to her. For you see, no one believes her - including the FBI. They believe the sheriff. Except for one man - who has also lost his child in the same circumstances......

Here and Gone isn't a character driven book - rather it's the plot that propels this story forward - and it's going mighty fast. There was more than one turn in the story where I just had to put the book down as the tension, intensity and action never lets up. (Here and Gone is not for the faint at heart!) We're alongside Audra as she tries to escape this nightmare and find her kids. There are other points of view as well, from the sheriff, his cohort and the kids. Again, this just ratchets things up another notch.

There were a few plot points that were tied up by the end, but I would have liked more details. But, Here and Gone is getting five stars from me, because I simply couldn't put it down.

Haylen Beck is a pseudonym for a well known crime author, whose books I have enjoyed in the past. ( )
  Twink | Jun 5, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As a woman and mother this story gave me chills. A woman escaping an abusive husband driving through a podunk Arizona town with her two small children gets pulled over by the local law enforcement and is separated from her children. Her children who are suddenly gone.

Weave into this story Danny Lee, a recovering thug from San Francisco's China Town, who's own wife and child experienced a very similar fate.

This story was fast moving and pulled me in. The characters were all well build and I felt like I could picture them all clearly. I really enjoyed Danny Lee's character and would love to see more of him. This story could have gone a bit longer. An epilogue would have been fantastic. I really wanted to know what happened to everyone further down the line with Danny: what did he find? Audra's husband and mother in law: did they quietly go away? Audra's friend Melanie: Did she apologize? Mitchell and Whiteside and the dark web? I need more information!

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I requested this book based on solely on the descriptive back-of-the-book blurb. I'd never heard of the author, Haylen Beck, before, although one day when handling the book my eye caught on the author info on the back and learned that Haylen Beck is the pen name for Stuart Neville. Neville I've heard of before but don't believe I've ever read. That will now change. I was already really enjoying this book and looking forward to reading more from this author. ( )
  she_climber | Jun 4, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451499573, Hardcover)

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother's desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she's pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they're gone than she must have done something with them... Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 01 Feb 2017 19:01:49 -0500)

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