Source: Review copy: Netgalley
Publication: 27 June 2019 from Harvill Secker
Libby would do anything for her three-year-old son Ethan. And after all they’ve been through, a holiday seems the perfect antidote for them both. Their hotel is peaceful, safe and friendly, yet Libby can’t help feeling that someone is watching her. Watching Ethan. Because, for years, Libby has lived with a secret.
Just days into their holiday, when Libby is starting to relax, Ethan steps into an elevator on his own, and the doors close before Libby can stop them. Moments later, Ethan is gone.
Libby thought she had been through the worst, but her nightmare is only just beginning. And in a desperate hunt for her son, it becomes clear she’s not the only one looking for him.
Who will find him first?
I loved Haylen Beck’s first book, Here and Gone so was really keen to read his second, stand-alone psychological thriller, Lost You. This book is so pacy, I read it in one sitting, while my heart raced and my emotions were caught up in this intelligent, disturbing thriller.
Lost You is a story of two women who share an incredibly strong urge; that of motherhood. Neither has had the best role mother, both struggle with mental health issues at different times.
The first part of the book focuses on Libby Reese. Libby’s marriage broke down and she is now a single parent to three year old Ethan. Libby has struggled to bring Ethan up on her own and he is the most precious human in her life.
Libby’s life is now looking a bit brighter. After slogging away, she has finally sold a novel and the advance she receives is enough to give her a bit of breathing space and to afford her a much needed break.
She takes Ethan away to a luxury resort and though she is the archetypal over protective mother, she is able to relax a bit when she meets a couple who are friendly and welcoming to them both.
All is going swimmingly (sorry!) when little rascal Ethan, who loves the resort’s lifts, gets in to one on his own in a rare moment when Libby is distracted and now he can’t be found. Libby is frantic with worry. The police are called and as they take Libby to watch CCTV images, Libby’s blood freezes. Someone is leading Ethan away by the hand.
Beck takes us back in time on an emotionally harrowing trip that explores in detail what Libby went through in order to have Ethan. Fertility issues dogged her desperate desire to conceive and her anguish at being unable to do so led to severe strains in her marriage.
Her desperation makes her explore previously unthinkable solutions and soon she is shelling out thousands of pounds to a dodgy broker in pursuit of her aim.
Beck’s exploration of the world where surrogacy and exploitation walk hand in hand is devastating, emotional and very disturbing. He offers up so many moral and ethical questions for the reader to consider, intertwined in a fast paced thriller that never lets up.
His writing displays acute knowledge of a range of vulnerabilities which make for an intense and harrowing read. His plotting is strong and his plotlines unpredictable, making for a strong and surprising read and his characters are well-drawn with light and shade.
Verdict: Emotionally engaging, suspenseful and the very definition of a ‘one sit’ read, Lost You successfully combines psychological thriller with obsession and heart –rending moral conundrums to keep the reader guessing.
Haylen Beck is the pseudonym of Stuart Neville, an acclaimed, Edgar-nominated author whose crime fiction has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and made best-of-year lists with numerous publications including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.
Find out more about Stuart Neville at his website, http://www.stuartneville.com/.