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.
This is an absolutely gripping thriller by Stuart Neville, whose books I adore, here writing as Haylen Beck. This is a story delivered through multiple viewpoints, and interspersed with reports and emails in the narrative. It has the frightening premise of an abused mother losing her precious children, facing condemnation and accusations, and her hunt to locate them. Audra Kinney is on the run from a nightmarish, controlling and abusive husband, Patrick, and the pending court custody hearing. Fleeing New York, she is driving through Arizona with her smart and clued up eleven year old son, Sean, and her three year old daughter, Louise. Its a beautiful day, the eventual destination is San Diego, California, where Audra hopes to be safe.
She is pulled over by Sheriff Whiteside who finds a bag of marijuana in the car. He calls in Deputy Collins, a woman cop, who takes charge of the children. On being taken to the station, a worried Audra asks about her children and is met with the response of what children? Audra’s life tips into panic stricken and terrifying territory. We learn the details of Audra’s history with her rotten husband, and his ghastly mother. Audra’s life slips into a world where she faces accusations from Patrick, child services, the police and the FBI. The media coverage results in a man from another part of the country seeing the TV reports, he just happens to have come up against similar horrific experiences to that of Audra and makes the decision that he is going to do all that he can to help. As Audra frantically searches for her children, she has no idea of just how devastating the truth will be.