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Gone by Chris Nyst


by Chris Nyst

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A pure rollicking airport fiction whodunnit. A great read.
Read Feb 2004 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 29, 2015 |
  rustyoldboat | May 28, 2011 |
In the summer of 1965 in the northern NSW coastal town of Brighton Bay a couple of children go missing on their way to the local swimming pool. It’s a heart-breaking mystery that captures the attention of the entire nation as news of the children’s fate was awaited. But for 30 years the mystery would go unsolved. Gone is the second novel by Australian lawyer turned bestselling author Chris Nyst and is an extremely entertaining legal thriller.

Bill Keliher was a young constable in Brighton Bay at the time of Michael and Catherine McCabe’s disappearance and it is a case that would haunt him for the rest of his career. But there is more to Keliher’s motivation for revisiting the case year after year than first meets the eye. Keliher was irretrievably personally involved in the case and the secrets he kept in 1965 are about to be brought devastatingly out into the open.

First one suspect is winkled out into the open, then a second and suddenly the McCabe case has recaptured the attention of the country. But the evidence is thin, the suspects don’t seem right for it and it looks as though any courtroom action will be perfunctory at best.

Introduced into this slight lull in proceedings is young defence lawyer Eddie Moran. Moran is an irreverent whirlwind of a man who bullies, threatens, ridicules and derides his way past police, prosecting attorneys and even judges in his bid to fight for his client. He’s unashamedly in it for the money and the public recognition making sure his clients have his fee up front and that the media has been duly notified before he enters a court or exits a police station.

Eddie is a real scene stealer, despised by all yet his performances in court are real theatre, particularly when he sets out to butt heads with a police witness whose evidence may be fabricated.

Following the introduction of the 1965 disappearance, the story is taken forward to the mid-1980s and, after the murder of a Gold Coast drug dealer, the McCabe children’s case is dragged back into the headlines. What follows is an intensely fiery legal battle that forces together former adversaries in a stoic united front as all the evidence points unwaveringly towards Bill Keliher.

Starting out with the tragic disappearance of the McCabe children forces the story to begin slowly with the construction of a carefully founded base. Once we move ahead in time and the suspects begin cropping up, the presence of Edwin Moran injects not only more energy but a considerable amount of levity into proceedings.

Nyst slips easily from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s painting a tragic picture with economical grace, gradually filling some of the vital details later. The simple symbol of a small collection of pre-decimal coins kept by Michael and Catherine’s mother along with a photo of the children are enough to act as an emotional reminder of the tragedy that started the story. Occasionally returning to them focuses the reader on the fact that someone still has to answer to that long-unsolved crime.

Where Chris Nyst really excels is in the courtroom where every scene is lively and constructed to ensure maximum entertainment as the advantage swings wildly from the prosecution to the defence. Nyst uses his vast experience as a defence lawyer to ensure that the legal procedures are as real-life as possible, although one feels he allows a fair amount of latitude for the flamboyance of Eddie Moran.

This is an Australian thriller of outstanding quality, well-balanced in the simple sentimentality that isn’t overblown and unrelenting in its entertainment value thanks to some larger than life characters. Gone is certainly a book of two distinct moods and Chris Nyst does a mighty job of merging them together into a cohesive story. ( )
1 vote Jawin | Aug 6, 2007 |
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In 1966, two children disappear from a beach in northern NSW. As a junior police constable, Bill Keliher was there when the children went missing. Now thirty years later, the respected senior police inspector is still enslaved by the mystery.

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