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A raw, gripping thriller about the price paid for past sins, John Rector’s ...
A raw, gripping thriller about the price paid for past sins, John Rector’s third novel is a live wire that crackles with the intensity of a man with nothing left to lose. When two men attack Jake in a parking lot and cut off his finger, he tries to dismiss it as an unlucky case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But when events take a more sinister turn and Diane goes missing, Jake knows he can no longer hide from the truth. As he embarks on a mission to find his wife, he realizes his dark past is refusing to stay buried and that his future is about to unfold in ways he could never have imagined.
With a taut and brooding style, Rector paints a formidable portrait of a reformed man’s slow descent into a life he thought he had walked away from forever. As the intensity becomes almost unbearable, the pace quickens and the suspense applies an unrelenting, vice-like grip, as Already Gone hurtles toward its ultimate, explosive climax.
Posted October 27, 2011
If you enjoy a book filled with mysterious deaths, ruthless villains, and countless plot twists and turns, read on.
Readers can tell right from the beginning that Jake Reese is not the most fortunate of men. He finds himself face down in the parking lot of a bar, at the mercy of two mysterious men (one of which is holding a bolt cutter to Jake's ring finger). Questions surrounding Jake's troubled past begin to surface as the police investigate this seemingly random act of violence, straining the relationship between Jake and his wife Diane and making Jake wonder if he should do some digging around himself. He refrains from interfering at the request of Diane, but when she goes missing, he doesn't hesitate to step back into his former life in order to find and save the woman he loves.
Rector brings some really impressive writing and strong characters into a genre that is often teeming with contrived, cringe-worthy dialogue and flat, unoriginal characters. The main character, Jake Reese, has an interesting back story that constantly has the reader wondering what is going to happen next and who is behind the awful things that are occurring. With a mother who took her own life when he was young and a father who was constantly in jail, Jake found himself living under the guidance of a mobster of sorts, Gabby Meyers. Before long, Jake was getting into trouble of his own - it took the friendship of Doug, a tutor who met Jake while he was in juvenile detention, to set Jake on the right path. Now a college professor and the author of his own memoir, Jake is far removed from the mistakes of his youth. Readers can't help but feel sorry for a man who is still suffering from his past despite finding a way to make something of himself.
Reese is surrounded by people that bring out his true personality throughout the novel. He has a soft spot for Diane, his new wife who has accepted him, past and all. However, her fear of what Jake's past actions is bringing to the present sends her on a "business trip" for an extended period of time. Jake can see the current violence is chasing Diane away, which sends him to the bottle. Readers also get the chance to meet Jake's father figure, Gabby, when Jake hits rock bottom. Gabby claims to be retired from his illegal and ruthless ways, but is willing to pull some strings to help out Jake. Jake's respect for this man as a stand-in father is obvious, even though Gabby is partly responsible for the life Jake led as a boy.
My only complaint about Already Gone would be the ending (don't worry, I won't give it away!). Throughout the story, Rector kept throwing curveballs that had me constantly changing my mind on who I thought the "bad guy" really was. Everyone seemed suspicious except Jake (thanks to first-person narration), and when certain characters were revealed for their true colors, I absolutely loved that I had never even suspected them in the first place. It is rare to find a suspense novel in which the author is actually able to hide the true culprit until he deems it fit to reveal them. And yet the end seemed a little too neat for me. It wasn't horrible, it just fell a little flat compared to the rest of the novel.
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Posted December 31, 2012
ALREADY GONE felt like a study in how not to conduct your marriage. Sure, it may all work out for you in the end, but you’re liable to meet up with some really bad dudes, lose a finger and your wedding band, get punched enough that you’ll be sucking grapefruit juice through a straw, question your sanity, have Gabby, a man you’ve known most of your life, question your sanity, and spend most of the novel running from said bad dudes, most of whom sound worse than rabid Dobermans. Needless to say, by the end of the novel, you may question your own sanity as I did, and it made me more than a little glad that I lead a sedentary life, and my name is not Jake Reese.
The dead bodies piled up faster than an 80-car pileup in the middle of a whiteout and nearly as much fanfare. This is classic noir where nearly no one is left standing at the end, and just when you think you have it all figured out, there might be one more twist at the end. If you don’t mind dead bodies galore, then you might just find yourself enjoying this one.
Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator