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Gone For Good    by Harlan Coben order for
Gone For Good
by Harlan Coben
Order:  USA  Can
Dell, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

We enter Will Klein's life just after the death of his beloved mother, who used to be nicknamed 'Sunny' and was always popular with neighborhood kids. Her light went out after Will's brother Ken was accused of the brutal rape and murder of Julie Miller. Ken has evaded an international dragnet for eleven years and his family have assumed him to be dead. But on her deathbed, his mother whispers to Will that his brother is alive.

The author does a brilliant job of portraying the effects of the murder on both the victim's family and on that of the assumed killer. He makes the good point that evil can grow in any neighborhood, poor or affluent, telling us that 'Some people have that rage.' But there's much more to his plot than a cold case. Coben pushes his protagonist Will into a maze that begins with his mother's death and the disappearance afterwards of the woman who is now 'his world'. Will met Sheila Rogers when she volunteered at the charitable foundation for young runaways where Will is senior director (the author's portrayal of the shelter is also credible and compassionate), but she is not what she seemed.

Then the FBI show up on Will's doorstep with questions - not the usual ones about his brother Ken, but about Sheila. This begins a series of shocks and violent confrontations that, after some remarkable twists and turns of plot, shed light on the murky morass of past events. There are great supporting characters, like Will's best friend, yoga guru Squares, whohas his own past demons. Their frankness and banter is reminiscent of the Spenser/Hawk relationship in Robert Parker's novels. On the other side is smooth corporate mobster McGuane supported by the sinister psychopathic Ghost. The dead girl's sister, Katy Miller, is actively seeking closure for her family and herself, and there is a missing, mysterious child.

A web of connections grows between the old murder and a recent one that initially seemed distinct. Evidence has been suppressed, and Will finds surprises around every corner of the maze he travels. The ending is not easy but brings closure and a few rays of sunshine into Will's life. I highly recommend Gone For Good as an excellent, thoroughly engrossing thriller that reveals the dark paths that an 'end justifies the means' philosophy can take us down.

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