Warning: Clicking through to Continue Reading will reveal spoilers.
I wish it was summer, because Gone Again feels like a perfect beach read. The book is quick but enjoyable, highlighting the value of loved ones and keeping your attention with emerging mystery and excitement. As Mark faces the loss of his wife, he rebuilds his relationship with his mother-in-law and leans on his young son for support in a difficult time.
Gone Again leaves you with the sadness of losing a lover and best friend, but also the optimistic idea that close families can get through anything together. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good vacation read.
Warning: Spoilers past this point.
At the start, it seemed as though the story would be about Mark’s attempt to locate and possibly save his missing wife. Although a depressing scene, the discovery of Lauren’s body took the book in a welcome different direction. Instead of the more common murder-mystery plot line of a husband trying to locate a wife despite unhelpful police, the story becomes about a grieving widower trying to keep things together for his six-year-old son. Although Mark becomes increasingly determined to find out what happened to Lauren, he is overwhelmingly focused on the welfare of Nathan.
In many ways, Nathan is a support system for Mark after Lauren’s death. While Mark is frequently lost in memories and fears of a life without Lauren, Nathan is able to bring him back to reality with comforting words and a shared understanding of pain. Until the very last page, Nathan keeps his head almost unbelievably well for a small child, both shooting a man to save Mark and taking a very mature view of his mother’s death.
Gone Again was the perfect length for the type of book that it is. When you frequently read crime stories, you tend to see the same type of recycled plot twists and character types. This is not always a bad thing, but it can get old sometimes. While Gone Again was not devoid of this recycling, it did not overdo these parts of the book. At one point, Mark falls under suspicion in the investigation of Lauren’s murder. While this happens in nearly every book in which a wife is murdered, Johnstone does not harp on it too much. There is the initial scene in which the police interrogate him, and then the story pretty much moves on. I like this technique, as it would have been inadequate for the police to never suspect Mark, but it does not take up a significant part of the book.