Source: Review copy
Publication: 9th August 2019 in e-book; 12 December 2019 in paperback from Black Swan
Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:
YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME. DARE TO PLAY?
The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.
And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.
As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.
But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?
Gone is an interesting take on the psychopathic serial killer genre and as such it is a fascinating and enjoyable read. A dual strand runs through this book. The first is the story of Seraphine, a 12 year old child visiting a psychologist after stabbing a school caretaker with a sharpened pencil, which she justifies as self-defence because he was sexually preying on her school friend and she was in fear that he would harm her, too.
The second is a deadly game which has resulted in people going missing from their families and friends.
Dr. Augusta Bloom is a psychologist who often works with the police and her friend and business partner, Marcus Jameson, an ex -MI6 operative who has left the service with severe burn-out. They discover that each of the four missing people they are looking into has received a card in the post. Tese cards read ‘Happy first birthday’ and ‘Your gift is the game. Dare to play? ‘
Jameson is contacted by his sister, Claire, who has been looking after Jane, the daughter of Lana, an army officer who is one of the people who has gone missing.Claire has been looking after Jane while her mum is away on army manoeuvres, and who has now vanished.
Claire has done some investigating of her own and has discovered another three people who have also gone missing in similar circumstances.
As Bloom and Jameson start to look into Lana’s disappearance they find that these disappearances are more chilling than anyone first thought. This premise offers an intriguing start to a fast-paced and action fuelled psychological thriller which captured my imagination and held my attention well.
Well plotted and intriguing, Gone is a different approach to the psychological thriller genre and offers an interesting and novel take on an investigating duo.
Characterisation is fairly lightly drawn, but this is the start of a series, and character development may follow in future books. As the plot develops, it becomes clear that Bloom and Jameson have inextricable links to this case and their past history will have a bearing on how the revelations unfold.
Psychological profiling plays a key role in enabling the analytical Bloom to get to the truth of what has been happening and I really enjoyed this aspect of the book, although as we got towards the conclusion the denouement became a little more obvious and the action somewhat more requiring a leap of faith.
Nevertheless, this is a strong start to a potentially exciting new investigative pairing and I would happily read another book with these two protagonists.
Verdict: A chilling and gripping psychological thriller with real potential for a future series.
Leona Deakin started her career as a psychologist with the West Yorkshire Police. She is now an occupational psychologist and lives with her family in Leeds.