Don't Look Back: A Novel by Gregg Hurwitz, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Don't Look Back

Don't Look Back

4.4 15
by Gregg Hurwitz

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"Smart and relentless… Hurwitz starts the pressure early and never, never lets up." —The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) on You're Next

In Don't Look Back, Eve Hardaway, newly single mother of one, is on a trip she's long dreamed of—a rafting and hiking tour through the jungles and mountains of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. Eve


"Smart and relentless… Hurwitz starts the pressure early and never, never lets up." —The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) on You're Next

In Don't Look Back, Eve Hardaway, newly single mother of one, is on a trip she's long dreamed of—a rafting and hiking tour through the jungles and mountains of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. Eve wanders off the trail, to a house in the distance with a menacing man in the yard beyond it, throwing machetes at a human-shaped target. Disturbed by the sight, Eve moves quickly and quietly back to her group, taking care to avoid being seen. As she creeps along, she finds a broken digital camera, marked with the name Teresa Hamilton. Later that night, in a rarely used tourist cabin, she finds a discarded prescription bottle—also with the name Teresa Hamilton. From the camera's memory card, Eve discovers Teresa Hamilton took a photo of that same menacing looking man in the woods. Teresa Hamilton has since disappeared.

Now the man in the woods is after whoever was snooping around his house. With a violent past and deadly mission, he will do anything to avoid being discovered. A major storm wipes out the roads and all communication with the outside world. Now the tour group is trapped in the jungle with a dangerous predator with a secret to protect. With her only resource her determination to live, Eve must fight a dangerous foe and survive against incredible odds—if she's to make it back home alive.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this thrilling standalone from bestseller Hurwitz (Tell No Lies), L.A.-based Eve Hardaway, whose husband has recently left her for a younger woman, decides to push “beyond her comfort zone” by taking a vacation in the jungles of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. At the Días Felices Ecolodge, Eve stumbles on disturbing artifacts left by a previous guest as well as the cabin of a man who will kill to keep his identity hidden. Meanwhile, bad weather and sabotage combine to cut off Eve and the others at the lodge—they must make increasingly desperate decisions if any are to survive. While a crafty foe stalks them, Eve and company also contend with such natural challenges as a raging river, rugged terrain, and unrelenting rain and heat. Despite some plot holes, Hurwitz skillfully ratchets up the tension as his characters prove their mettle through nerve-wracking and exciting trials. Agent: Lisa Erbach Vance, Aaron Priest Literary Agency. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

“What a terrific book! Don't Look Back is thrilling beginning to end and powerfully gratifying.” —Megan Abbott, internationally bestselling author of The Fever

“Gregg Hurwitz never disappoints...and with Don't Look Back, he takes his storytelling talents to new heights of suspense and terror. From the opening moment of tension to the singularly terrifying final act, this story of survival and death left me breathless. Not to be missed.” —James Rollins

“Thrilling…Hurwitz skillfully ratchets up the tension as his characters prove their mettle through nerve-wracking and exciting trials.” —Publishers Weekly on Don't Look Back

“A taut, smart, suspense-filled ride to satisfy the most discerning of thrill seekers.” —Library Journal (starred review) on Don't Look Back

“Propulsive…for page after irresistible page, Hurwitz ramps up the tension…Thrillingly cinematic.” —The Washington Post on The Survivor

“With Trust No One, Gregg Hurwitz deservedly takes a place at the forefront of thriller writers. Once you read the first page, you will keep ripping through pages until there are none left.” —David Baldacci

Library Journal
★ 07/01/2014
Eve Hardaway planned the perfect vacation to celebrate her tenth wedding anniversary—a full week in the jungles of Oaxaca, Mexico. Sadly, her husband Rick also had a big surprise, but it didn't include her. With her estranged spouse now living with his new girlfriend, Eve decides to keep the reservations and travel to Mexico alone. After all, what could be a better "new start" than a jungle adventure? Arriving in Oaxaca, Eve discovers evidence of a hasty retreat by the former occupant of her hut. Clothes apparently ripped from closet hangers, a full prescription bottle, and a digital camera are still in the room. What she sees on the camera leads her to investigate a mysterious stranger who proves more sinister than Eve could ever have imagined. What should have been the trip of a lifetime turns into a deadly fight for survival, and one that will change her life forever. VERDICT Hurwitz (The Survivor) has crafted another satisfying thriller that will keep readers turning the pages to find out what happens next. A taut, smart, suspense-filled ride to satisfy the most discerning of thrill seekers. [See Prepub Alert, 2/10/14.]—Cynthia Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC
Kirkus Reviews
Hurwitz (Tell No Lies, 2013, etc.) again proves himself a plot masteras he follows Eve Hardaway on a much-needed vacation into Mexico's Oaxacanjungles.It was supposed to be an anniversarytrip. Then Eve's husband found a younger, more "elegant" woman. Evedecided the prepaid getaway to Días Felices Ecolodge was just the ticketanyway, especially after having given up nursing for a mind-numbing corporatecubicle to support her son. At the lodge, Eve stumbles upon a lost digitalcamera while on a jungle trek and later learns that it belongs to TheresaHamilton, now missing. On the same trek, Eve spies a mysterious man near aramshackle hut secreted in the dense foliage. After deftly creating empathy forEve, Hurwitz drops her into live-or-die circumstances, buoyed only by her shakybut ever growing self-confidence and love for her son. The mystery jungledweller is slowly revealed to be Bashir Ahmat al-Gilani, the Bear of Bajaur, abloodthirsty terrorist hiding in Mexico and a character written with inventiveback story. If Días Felices is a jungle Ship of Fools, characters run totype: macho "Gay Jay," healing after a bad romance; Will, hisstraight best friend, the McGyver thatEve needs; Claire, a lonely, bitter and vocal young woman handicapped by legbraces; Harry and Sue, an older couple more interested in personal safety thangroup survival; and jungle-wise Fortunato, indígenio lodge cook. In aplot as fast as river rapids, Eve fights more battles than Rambo and copes withintermittent Internet connections, a satellite phone that only occasionallygets a signal, gangrene, dysentery, disembowelment by IED and a "blackwave" of "eat-everything-in-their-path" sweeper ants. Hurwitzrelates Oaxaca imaginatively, with a villain who reminds a soccer mom that"jungle laws had always run beneath it all, a molten stream under thebedrock."Hurwitz adds to his string ofimaginative thrillers with an action-adventure story ready for blockbusterHollywood—get Cameron Diaz's people!

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

“How many…?” Her mouth was dry. “How many times?”

Rick looked up at her from his perch on the faux-leather chair, elbow resting on the desk they’d crammed into the master bedroom. The computer monitor at his shoulder gave his face a jaundiced pall. “Five, six. Maybe seven.”

Eve wet her lips, fought her breathing into some semblance of a rhythm. “Where?”

“Her place, usually.”


“A car. Once.”

“A car,” Eve said. “Jesus. A car.” Her hand had made a fist in the bedspread, pulling the fabric into a swirl.

That strangled Inner Voice piped up: Don’t ask. Don’t

“What’s she look like?” Eve asked.

She could feel the sweat beading above the neckline of the worn nursing scrub top she slept in—Los Angeles hadn’t gotten the memo that it was supposed to be winter.

Rick rested the points of his fingers on his kneecap, as if to extract the bone. He cleared his throat. “She’s … elegant. Does Pilates. Blond. An accountant. From Amsterdam.”

Elegant. Blond. Pilates. Each specific, an arrow punching through flesh.

Eve looked down at her stretched-out scrub top. She had the kind of plain good looks that aunts called pretty, but never had she been described as “elegant.”

That’s enough now. Trust me, you don’t want to know anything else.

“How … how old is she?”

He waved a hand. “I don’t know what that has to do with it.” It was a halfhearted attempt, she could tell, and he relented under her skeptical glare. “Twenty-six.”

Her mouth made a few attempts before she got the words out. “So she was eight when we were eighteen.”

“Why is that…?”

“We could legally vote, Rick. And she was having a My Pretty Pony–themed birthday party.”

An image swept in unannounced, her and Rick’s third date, them in the car, driving up PCH to Malibu for a lazy beach day. He’d guessed her favorite Beatles song on the first try—“Let It Be.” Two hundred and thirteen songs, and he’d known.

How far from there to here. And no bread-crumb trail leading back.

“Remember Malibu?” she asked. Their shorthand.

He gave a woeful nod.

“I wish you still looked at me like that. Like I was … special.” Her vision was blurry—she’d held out until now, but then she’d heard the words, even from her own mouth, and that had done it. She hated herself for being such a goddamned open book.

He spread his hands, laced them again. “What am I supposed to say?”

You’re supposed to say, You’re still special.

She wiped her cheeks. “I don’t know.”

A burst of animation rocked him forward in the chair. “I feel like our lives have turned into this soulless, scheduled bullshit. E-mails and PowerPoint presentations and e-mails about PowerPoint presentations, and none of it matters. None of it. Matters.” He was talking fast, which he did when he was upset, words and sentences tumbling out. “It’s like we never stopped and looked at each other and said, ‘We don’t want to live like this.’”

Her gaze found the airplane tickets in their optimistic yellow sleeves on the bookshelf. Their ten-year anniversary was nine months off, and just last week she’d cashed in miles for a vacation package—a full week in the jungles of Oaxaca. Rick thought the trip ambitious, but she’d studied biology with a minor in Spanish, so why not? Plus, the state was the safest in Mexico, none of the narco violence that had people going missing and decapitated corpses washing up even in Acapulco. Just a chance to escape all the petty distractions, the tentacles of modern communication, the tiny violations that chipped away at them minute after minute. A chance to clear their heads, breathe fresh air, get out of range. A chance to remember who they were.

Seven times. Seven. Times.

Rick’s cell phone chirped a text alert, and she couldn’t help wondering. Past his sallow face, the computer glowed, his Gmail open, four unread e-mails. The screen refreshed, another bold message ticking into the in-box. The life of a public defender, always on call for crises most likely to occur at night, on weekends, in the middle of marital catastrophes.

“—job I hate, can barely keep us in the house,” he was saying. “I’m grinding out hours, get home, no energy, you’re there with HGTV on—”

“I watch TV at night,” she said, “because I’m lonely.”

“I’m not a mind reader, Eve.”

A metallic scrape of latch against strike plate announced the door’s opening. Nicolas stood in the narrow gap, door and jamb pressing either shoulder, his seven-year-old face taut with concern.

In his droopy pajamas, he brought to mind John Darling from Peter Pan, with his tall, dignified forehead, the glasses framing oversize Disney eyes. His tufts of blond hair were tinged faintly green from chlorine. Despite the avalanche of emotions currently threatening to submerge her, she had to be up in six hours to get him to swim practice.

“Why are you yelling?” Nicolas asked.

She forced a smile out of the black inner swamp, fought it onto her face. “I’m sorry we woke you, Little,” she said. “We’re having a … disagreement.”

“No,” Nicolas said. “Daddy was yelling.”

“I wasn’t yelling,” Rick said.

“I think we could both stand to keep our voices down,” she said.

Rick dipped his head remorsefully, and Nicolas withdrew. The air conditioner labored ineffectively.

“I didn’t know you felt alone when you watched TV,” Rick said. “I thought you didn’t want to talk to me.”

His expression of vulnerability choked off her reply. Fourteen years in, and still the sight of his suffering gave her an ache beneath the ribs, no matter—evidently—the circumstances.

“I thought you were sick of me,” he said. “Last month.…” His lips trembled, and he pressed his knuckles to his mouth. “Last month you purse-dialed me. You and Nicolas were singing in the car—‘Hey, soul sister, I don’t wanna miss a single thing ya do.…’ It was magical.” He took a jerky breath. “I wished I was with you.”

She wondered when they stopped telling each other things like that. Pulling a thread in the hem of her scrub top, she watched it neatly unravel the seam.

“Then I thought,” he continued, “if I was with you, maybe you wouldn’t be singing.”

She didn’t say anything, because he was probably right.

“We never found our way back to each other after Nick was born,” he said, with a slightly practiced air that made her wonder if he’d made this case before, to friends, his shrink, maybe even to her. After Pilates. “All the craziness of a newborn, the adjustments. And when he got sick, those sleepless nights ruling out the scary stuff. Then the diet, which grains are okay, where to find gluten-free pasta, all that attention. I wonder sometimes what we’d have to talk about if it wasn’t that.”

She’d wondered the same but had never voiced it. She marveled at how Rick did that. Just stated what he was feeling, bold and direct, hitting the nails on the heads, one after another, no matter what they pierced. And her, lost in a haze, groping for bearings.

A car? Really? In a car?

“I feel like I always let you down, Evie.”

His cell phone sounded again. She looked away, her eye again catching on the anniversary-trip tickets resting hopefully on the bookshelf. Behind them Moby-Dick sat dusty and unread, glaring out from beneath the price sticker it still bore from the UCLA bookstore, inducing guilt with all 1,011 pages. She was always going to read it next month. When she looked back, she saw that three more e-mails had arrived in Rick’s in-box. She wondered how many waited in her own, from the nurse manager, the swim coach, the orthodontist. Life cranking mercilessly onward.

She tried to pull words from the molasses of her thoughts, to piece them together. “We fail each other,” she said. “That’s part of being human. No one can be perfect. But we try to figure it out together. Not with…” She swallowed back the bitterness. “That’s the deal, right? We keep fighting and fixing and trying. Which is the best anyone can ask for. So many couples just … give up or give in.”

“I’m tired, Evie.”

His blond hair was shaggy, his face unshaven, the messy good looks on display that had drawn her to him their senior year at UCLA. College sweethearts. They’d been warned, but no. It was gonna be all candlelit meals and late-night assignations in the Jacuzzi. And now he’d found someone elegant.

“We were gonna be different,” she said.

“Something’s just not there,” he said. “I can’t find it anymore. In you.”

The words blew a fist-size hole right through her chest. Her voice, barely audible: “It’s there.”

“You never show it to me anymore.” He saw her expression and started to cry. “I’m sorry, Evie. I’m so goddamned sorry.”

She wanted to tell him to go fuck his elegant Dutch Pilates accountant, but she thought of Nicolas beyond the thin wall and bit her lip, hard.

She lowered her head, picked at the sheet, waiting for her throat to open back up. She couldn’t push out the words, but her Inner Voice was there, clear as day.

It said, When did I stop being something worth fighting for?

Copyright © 2014 by Gregg Hurwitz

Meet the Author

Gregg Hurwitz is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, most recently Tell No Lies and The Survivor. He is a two-time finalist for ITW’s Best Novel prize and a finalist for the CWA’s Steel Dagger. Hurwitz is also a screenwriter, TV producer and writer, and comic-book writer (Batman: The Dark Knight). He lives in Los Angeles.

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