The book Gone arrived with a birthday card wishing me a ‘Happy 1st Birthday’. My gift was a dare to play ‘the game’, something that four strangers apparently chose to do before they went missing. I chose instead to read the book.
Gone – The Blurb
“Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:
YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?
The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.
And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.
As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.
But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?”
Dare to play?
Deakin hit the ground running and it immediately felt like you were reading an established partnership between psychologist Augusta Bloom and ex-spy Marcus Jameson. This is despite the fact Gone is Deakin’s debut. I found myself drawn to teenager Seraphine’s story. Was she really evil? Was she just broken, or a little bit lost? And how did her stabbing of a man with a pencil link to the ‘the game’? If indeed it did at all?
So what about this game? Would you log on and play if you were anonymously delivered a birthday card? How about an online survey asking ‘which type of coffee are you?’ ‘Where should you go on holiday if you’re looking for adventure’ or ‘what can your sleeping habits reveal about your relationship?’ Deakin illustrated perfectly how this information can be manipulated into something much more sinister than simply tweaking your side bar to include adverts for espresso makers.
It was nice to see the police working alongside Bloom and Jameson. So often the private detective is the thorn in the side of the somewhat dogged policeman. The private investigator will win the day despite the police’s best efforts to prevent them and it will all be very formulaic. This was not the case here and it was refreshing to read.
Deakin started her career as a psychologist for West Yorkshire Police and you can tell. The terminology and procedure all felt very authentic and the link to the West Yorkshire Police as the book progressed was a nice touch.
Too large a scope?
As the book progressed the sheer scale of the game became apparent and I think this was Gone’s weakness. The number of players, the length of time it had been played was huge. Not to give too much away but would the aim of the game have taken so long to reach? Would it have been undetected for so long? Am I taking things too literally here?
That aside I did suspect certain things about both leads early-ish on but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment at all. I actually read it quicker just to find out if I was right! I really enjoyed Gone and love how it was left between Bloom and Jameson. Book number two, Lost is set to be published next year and I can’t wait to see how their pairing develops.
My thanks go to Black Swan via Random Things Tours for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Gone is published on 3 October 2019. It’s a pacy debut thriller that turns your average missing person plot on it’s head.
If you like the sound of Gone but need something to tide you over until October try Without A Trace by Clarissa Lynch about a little girl who has gone missing, unless she never really existed?