This is post number 23.
This is the first mystery novel of a series by Ben Rehder.
Plot: Insurance fraud videographer Roy Ballard starts what should be a cut and dry case; however, when he spots a missing girl in his case’s car, everything changes. Will Roy get in over his head as he digs deeper into a high profile kidnapping?
“Mia backed her 1968 Mustang into a space at the front of the complex, near the exit. I parked the Caravan in a spot near the corner of Wally Crouch’s building, where I could see both his car and Mia’s. The plan was to sit for an hour or so and wait for Crouch to emerge. In the previous three days, he hadn’t left his apartment before ten o’clock. If he hadn’t left his apartment by 10:30 or so, Mia would reposition her car closer to his apartment and actually knock on his door, which would be risky. He might get suspicious.”
Spoilers/Opinion: In this novel, the chapters alternate between first-person for the main plot and third person limited for a kidnappers perspective. Both are done well and for good effect. Roy’s narration provides some character background and his problem solving skills. The kidnapper’s perspective, with a few interludes of witnesses and detectives, creates some suspense and ties into a twist, which I will discuss later.
Roy himself is a decent detective having found a job as an insurance fraud videographer. He landed the job after punching a former boss, and landed probation after driving intoxicated. His main demon, though, happened nine years before the start of the novel when his daughter was kidnapped. This sets up motivation for Roy to want to find a missing girl and examples of him not playing by the rules. Roy’s personality is okay, a bit trying too hard on occasion, but definitely good enough for having first person. The mystery itself is not too mysterious. Roy figures out that Pierce, his fraud suspect, has Tracy, the missing girl, within the first first-person chapter. A few minor twists as well as a tasering keep the feeling of danger constant.
For the most part, I like the plot, but there are a couple of parts that bother me. The third-person chapters assume that the kidnapper is Pierce, but in a twist it is revealed that it was Roy’s daughter’s kidnapper’s perspective. Throughout the whole novel, Roy agonizes over his daughter’s kidnapping, when in reality she was found nine years ago and is alive and well in Canada. I felt like the twist was not necessary and made the third person chapters feel pointless. I thought I was looking into what was happening to Tracy in real time, but instead I was hearing third person accounts of what happened nine years ago to a girl I assumed was dead and had no emotional investment toward. There was also a subplot with what Roy assumed was a former fraudster coming for revenge but really it was his former boss that. Roy points out the punching incident happened three years prior and the boss should just let it go. I agree. The subplot should have been skipped.
Ratings: This novel is a Mystery novel so the ratings are as follows
Problem Solving/ Finding Info: 7/10
Sense of Danger/ Urgency: 7/10
Overall, I give Gone The Next a 7/10. The perspective and plot kept my interest. Some minor flaws include the unnecessary revenge subplot and twist, but overall the novel is a pleasant read.
Rehder, Ben (2012). Gone The Next [Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com. Retrieved 3/2/1017.