Title: Here and Gone by Haylen Beck
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: 306 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Blogging for Books
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.
Haylen Beck’s Here and Gone is an edge of the seat suspenseful novel about a woman who falls victim to a corrupt sheriff and his deputy in a small town in Arizona.
Audra Kinney, along with her two children, ten year old Sean and six year old Louise, are nearing the end of their cross country flight from New York to California when she is pulled over by Sheriff Ronald Whiteside. Nervous and fearful since she is fleeing from her abusive husband, Patrick, Audra is shocked when the routine traffic stop results in her arrest for drug possession. Worried about what will happen to her children, she complies with Whiteside’s orders and she is only mildly relieved when her children are picked up by Deputy Mary Collins. But it is not until Audra arrives at the local jail that events take a truly terrifying turn when she asks about her children and the sheriff very chillingly replies, “what children?”
Right from the beginning of her horrifying ordeal, the deck is completely stacked against Audra. Her history of drug and alcohol addiction is used against her by the authorities and the media and her wealthy husband and mother-in-law do everything they can to smear her reputation. Crucified in the media, Audra tries to convince FBI Agent Jennifer Mitchell to look deeper into Whiteside and Collins, but Mitchell has no reason to doubt the law enforcement officers’ account of events. Audra’s alarm about her children’s well-being increases as she tries and fails to persuade anyone to take her claims seriously. However, just as she is running out of options, help arrives from a very unexpected source.
Danny Lee might not know Audra but her story about what happened to her and her children is all too familiar. His arrival in the small AZ town does not go unnoticed and Whiteside immediately begins trying to intimidate the newcomer. While Danny’s offer help is not altogether altruistic, aiding Audra might help him find answers he has been searching for the past several years. Danny and Audra are soon in a race against time to locate Sean and Louise before Whiteside can carry out his end of a thoroughly evil deal.
Here and Gone is a fast-paced thriller without much mystery to the storyline since readers know exactly what happened to Audra, Sean and Louise. The motivation for Whiteside’s despicable actions is also crystal clear right from the start as well. However, there is no shortage of suspense as Audra continues to try to convince anyone who will listen that her children are in terrible danger and that she is innocent of any involvement in their disappearance. With the clock ticking down to find Sean and Louise before it is too late, Haylen Beck brings the novel to a pulse-pounding, adrenaline-filled conclusion.