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Fortunately, the world needs private detectives. Unfortunately for Lantham, on this particular Saturday morning "the world" consists of a fretful mother with a missing daughter, and the place he has ...
Fortunately, the world needs private detectives. Unfortunately for Lantham, on this particular Saturday morning "the world" consists of a fretful mother with a missing daughter, and the place he has to go to look for her has a name every bit as ominous as hell: Suburbia.
With only a teenager's blog and diaries to go on, and time running out, Lantham chases the puzzle pieces from the posh shadow of Mount Diablo to the kink clubs of San Francisco to the genetic engineering labs of Stanford. Tailed by mercenaries, framed for murder, and forced into hiding, he somehow must keep his head in the face of a world where the normal rules of reality don't seem to apply...all for the sake of a nineteen-year-old girl whose face he sees every time he closes his eyes.
Posted October 11, 2010
AND THEN SHE WAS GONE is a book tailor-made for the modern mystery reader. First off, there's the amazing price -- half the cost of a paperback, and less than a lot of people pay for their morning lattes. Even if you're not familiar with J. Daniel Sawyer's ground-breaking work in the realm of podcast fiction, the price point is low enough that anybody looking for a good story should be willing to give it a try. Second, there's the pacing. This is a taut, gripping mystery with prose so tight you could bounce a quarter off it. The plot twists and turns through the glitz and the gutters of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Detective Clarke Lantham narrates the action in a tight, spare and sardonic voice that captures the spirit of the noir detective genre without falling prey to its verbal excesses. That bring me to the third selling point: this is very much a *modern* pulp mystery. On the one hand, Lantham is a classic noir detective; on the other, he's is a twenty-first century man through and through, with the tools to match. It's hard to envision Sam Spade tracking a suspect with a GPS locator, or cruising around an upper-middle class neighborhood with a laptop in search of a Wi-Fi connection. The themes of the plot are modern, too, with a mystery that tackles tough, relevant topics like bioethics and the complex social networks of American teenagers. It is this fresh, modern spin on the classic detective tropes that makes the book so distinctive and compelling. This is not a perfect book. The plot takes some liberties with science that strain the limits of the plausible, which as a scientist I found hard to swallow. What the average mystery reader might find more troublesome, however, is that Lantham doesn't even uncover some of his most important clues on his own. In a move that might be a little *too* 21st Century, Lantham hires a subcontractor to handle the heavy-duty techno-sleuthing for him. It feels a bit like using "Phone A Friend" on the last question of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: effective, sure, but a little anticlimactic. Still, it's important to take the book for what it is. Pulp adventures are not about die-hard realism; what matters is how he uses the information he finds, and whether he can get himself and his charges out of danger in one piece. In this, AND THEN SHE WAS GONE delivers beautifully, with a white-knuckled climax full of all the bullets, blood and pulse-pounding excitement you could ask for. If the last ten pages don't leave you clamoring for the next book in the series, I don't know what's wrong with you. Hollywood wishes it could write sequel-bait this good.
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Posted December 30, 2010
Stylistically, this book fits its genre rather well. Clarke's and Nya's characters were as developed as they should be for this type of book, with the other characters a little less so. It was pretty well-edited, with only a few minor errors here and there. Like any good serialized novel, the ending leaves you with the hint of a possible adversary, as yet a mystery, who may rear her head again in future stories. Fortunately, fans of the book won't have to wait long for the next book- it's already out.Overall, a nicely written, modernized hard boiled detective story. Witty and pithy, with a storyline that keeps you engaged, this is a recommended read.
full review @MotherLode Blog
Posted November 14, 2010
Normally when it comes to reading I like my stories in book form as opposed to E-books, that being said when I heard about And Then She Was Gone by J.D. Sawyer I though I'd set my hatred of the medium aside and I'm glad I did. And Then She Was Gone is a mystery novel with a modern feel. Clarke Lantham is a PI with some tricks up his sleeve! From using cellphones to track someone to hacking private facebook messages. Being a mystery novel I don't want to give any details for fear of giving something away. If you enjoy fast paced action and mystery give this E-Book a try. At only $3.20 for a copy you've got nothing to lose.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 29, 2010
J. Daniel Sawyer continues to impress me. Each of his works that I encounter leaves me breathless and impatiently waiting for more.
He's done it to me again with "And Then She Was Gone."
Dan Sawyer has a talent for description that puts the world on a movie screen for you, with the perfect amount of detail to give you a rich view of the action without being crowded by knick-knacks.
I've only been there once so far, but I didn't feel lost as Dan takes you through the heights and depths of the San Francisco Bay Area (both physically and socially).
The characters are real individuals. and *really* messed up without being caricatures. They have history, and Dan excels at dropping little gems of that history into a reader's lap.
All this is wrapped in prose and dialogue so smooth and neat it's like drinking a 21-year-old single-malt scotch with your best friend. Or sharing a pint of ice cream if you don't drink alcohol.
I'm looking forward to more. Because there has to be more.
Posted October 21, 2010
The first time I read "And Then She Was Gone," I had no clue what to expect. A friend of mine was kind enough to loan me a copy for me to try (using 'loaned' loosely in the age of digital copy-paste), and off I was. I've long held a soft spot for detective noir, both the traditional fare made famous by Humphry and Bacall and the pastishe re-invention that Blade Runner made famous.
So when I discovered that Clark Lantham was very much in the same vein, I settled in for a very familiar guilty pleasure -- jaded ex-cop, too good at his job, too dedicated to the case, and far too experienced to allow himself the luxury of taking things at face value.
However, that isn't where the story ended. As other reviers have said, Clark Lantham brings his own collection of tricks, tools, insights, and hang-ups to the mix. He definitely borrows from the spirit of the old gumshoes of old, but the arsenel he brings to bear is something out of a mash-up of Q from James Bond and MacGuyver. Cell Phones that double as GPS units, scripts that exploit security holes in facebook, and a catelogue of favors owed to him from specialists and experts make him prepared to handle almost anything thrown at him.
This isn't a book stuck on its own technology fetish, however. Like other Dan Sawyer novels, it's a character driven story. The tools and implements facilitate those characters, and each one bears Clarke's signature. In addition to that, Clark is a chance for Dan's keen insight into human behavior to shine in full sardonic glory. Nothing is sacred, nothing is pure, and everyone has a knife with your name on it.
But this too-jaded attitude does not stop Clark from becoming overly involved in the latest case he's handed. Nor does it stop him from pursuing the case, long after his better judgement has given up telling him to stop.
I was very pleased with the novel, the story it told, and the characters it portrayed. My only complaints are two-fold:
One, it went by very quickly. No, scratch that. It FLEW by. It's very fast-paced, and doesn't let up for an instant. Especially for as cerebral, reflective, and analytical as Dan Sawyer's novels get, this one does not let up. It grabs you by the naughty bits and does not let go until the last page. If you're looking for a book to nurse and savor a few pages at a time before bed, this book will make that a difficult endeavor. Expect to be up until 3 or 4 AM until you finish the novel. :)
Two, because my loaner-friend didn't let me in on much before reading it, I walked in assuming this was a completely self-contained one-off novel. It's not -- Dan Sawyer has many more Clarke Lantham stories planned, which is not what the break-neck pacing of the book lead me to believe. The story is very much self-contained and satisfying, but it's act one of a larger narrative.
The good news behind this, of course... is that the best is yet to come. :)
Posted October 17, 2010
There's a lot of "noir" in this. While I'm no expert on the genre, I've seen my share of takes on it both light hearted and traditional. It has all of the elements you might expect.
There isn't much to like about Lantham. He's not exactly cuddly. He's not afraid to lie, steal, or do (almost) anything to get the job done. When he gets roughed up, shot at, or otherwise abused I wasn't really broken up about it. In fact those were some of the more fun bits of story. Still, Dan has a knack for taking a jerk like this and making him interesting enough for you to care about what he's doing and what happens to him.
The other thing that really appealed to me about this book was its sense of realism. Upon finishing this story, I was left with a sense of what it feels like to be a detective in our modern age.
I only have a couple of gripes with this on the whole, one minor and one major. First, there's a question of language. Dan does love his F-bomb. While cursing generally doesn't bother me in fiction or in life, it can get distracting here.
The bigger problem I have, and I don't want to give anything crucial away so I'll be a little obtuse, is a matter of science that's a large plot point. I'm no scientist and I'm not up on my research in this area. However, given how realistic the rest of the story seems, the tech in question strikes me as being more at home in the realm of science fiction. While it doesn't hurt the story per se, it was jarring.
If you aren't a reader that's bothered with the language, it's a good investment. It's a quick read and one that I think would bear up under multiple readings. I give it four out of five Maltese Falcons.
Posted October 12, 2010
Snappy and fast paced, And Then She Was Gone is filled with intelligent characters, humour and twists and turns that kept me following Clarke Lantham hour after hour. Part detective mystery, part bio punk, all parts entertaining, you'll definitely enjoy the ride.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 12, 2010
This was a fast-paced read, difficult to put down for such things like work, sleep, or lunch. The characters were well-drawn, the mystery smart, the solution fantastically unfolded, and the climax intense.
Lantham is a classic cynical P.I., though a well-done and updated example of the type, but the collection of secondary characters populating Lantham's San Francisco Bay Area is fantastic. Engaging, fleshed-out, funny - I hope there are plenty of sequels for them to appear in. I especially love Lantham's intern, and the consulting net guru on the Hill.
As a Bay Area resident, I found the amount of local flavor to be just right - and oftentimes quite funny. Unlike some stories set in the Bay Area, its not just set in a little slice of the City, but covers a wider breadth and variety of locales - very much appreciated.
And Then She Was Gone is definitely worth a read, whether you're a mystery junkie or just like great writing.
Posted September 28, 2011
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