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Reason for Reading: Mo Hayder ... new book ... nothing more to say.

This is an all-nighter police procedural that has Jack Caffery on the case of a supposed carjacker who takes a car with a girl in the back seat. The girl is not found and the realization is made that he didn't want the car but the girl. Then it happens again. Another car, another girl, this time much younger. With statistics showing that child abductors kill their victims sooner than later, the team is on a race against time. Flea comes to Caffery and tells him about two previous unsuccessful attempts that are identical and this helps the team start to put together a case. Separately, the book focuses of Flea, as an individual and how the events from the previous book "Skin" have affected her emotionally and on the job as she tries to put herself together but she also notices Jack's complete change in manner towards her.

The story is clever. There are turns that move the plot in different directions but guessing the identity of the culprit wasn't exactly hard, though Hayder does keep you with a tiny seed of doubt until the final reveal. A thoroughly enjoyable police procedural. But also very much tied to previous books, especially "Skin", so should not be read out of order or at least not before "Skin", since Skin's whole shocker is outed in "Gone".

Why do I give the book a rating of three if it's a clever, enjoyable police procedural? Because when I read Mo Hayder I am expecting a whole lot more than enjoyable. I have read all her books and am a huge fan. Words I usually use to describe her books are gruesome, disturbing, weird, roller-coaster ride, heart-thumping, breath-holding, twists and turns, a shocker! This book had none of those elements, aside from a few turns (only turns, no twists) and I was disappointed. Her books The Treatment and The Devil of Nanking have made me hold Hayder above other thriller writers and this one felt more like one of the crowd. Don't get me wrong, it's good and kept me up into the wee hours but I wasn't satisfied that I'd read a Mo Hayder. Not her best, by far. Another thing that got to me was what was with the happy-happy ending, Hayder's books do not have happy endings. Perhaps this is a sign that the Jack Caffery series is over.
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on February 1, 2011
DI Jack Caffery, an 18-year-veteran of the Murder Squad and presently head of Bristol's Major Crime Investigation Unit, returns at a point six months after the events described in the author's last novel, 'Skin.' As the book opens, on a cold November night, Caffery is called to the scene of a carjacking in an underground car park, something one would not consider a case for the MCIU until it becomes known that an 11-year-old girl was in the car when it was taken.

Caffery puts a team together: DC Prody, just coming off four years as a traffic copy; DS Paluzzi [nicknamed 'Lollapalooza'], DS Turner, and at some point Phoebe ['Flea'] Marley, now a support-group sergeant who also runs the Underwater Search Unit. ['She'd got her dumb nickname as a child because people told her she never looked before she leaped. And because of her irritating, incurable energy.'] There are secrets in both Caffery's and Flea's lives that play in the back of their thoughts, coincidentally both involving siblings; children at risk are also a large part of the plot. The investigation takes a different turn when Flea tells Caffery there have been two other incidents closely following the same pattern, and they realize this was not just a random act.

The characters are very well-drawn and intriguing, especially Flea, who remembers her father telling her as a child 'We don't give up in this family. It's against the Marley code. Ancient belief system. Bad things happen when you do - - it's like flying the face of nature.' And that persistent nature is a good part of what makes her such a terrific cop, and fascinating individual.

The reader is kept rapt for more or less the first half of the book just by the mystery of the identity of the hijacker, and what he may have done to the child [shudder]. Then there is a sudden shift in intensity, as the plot takes unexpected and quite startling twists and turns, and from that point on I could not put the book down till its conclusion, breath held a good part of the way there. [I should add that my vocabulary has been enlarged by the terms 'elasticated,' lumpenly,' and 'forensicated,' which may just be a matter of Brit-speak.]

Happily, the final few pages hint of a return of Caffery and Flea, and one can only hope it will be soon. Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 27, 2014
This book is a great read and does provide more info on both DI Jack Caffery and Flea Marley. It is a page turner as you read trying to guess who you think is the car jacker in this police procedural. Mo Hayder keeps you guessing until the end as she twists and turns the story and keeps you wondering. I found it a page turner and I read it quickly as there's always the question if the children are alive or not. I was looking forward to see a progression with Jack and Flea over the death of the actress from the novel Skin and was glad to see that story line continue. Some reviewers say it's not the best work from this author but that's like saying the novel was either fantastic or really, really good. This novel is really really good.
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on August 21, 2015
This wasn't my favourite Mo Hayder novel, she spends too much time on Flea Marley for it to keep the book flowing in my opinion, and the perpetrator was pretty obvious and annoying. Having said that it did keep me interested and even an average Mo Hayder novel is better than the great majority of other crime fiction so it's still worth reading to make sure you don't miss anything in the relationship dynamics in the series.
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on September 25, 2016
Jack Caffery stories are always hard to read. He is a tormented person. He deals with the dregs of society and with appalling situations. I always cringe when children are victims. This was a great whodunnit from start to finish. It was black as Jack Caffery stories always are. The ending, except for the usual mayhem and angst was almost happy. On to the next Jack Caffery novel.
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on October 17, 2012
i am bias i love Mo Hayder and read all i can of hers alway keeps you hanging rigth to the end you just dont want it to end
plus i know i can find any thing i want at Amazon
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on November 22, 2016
Good one, not my favourite of hers but still very good.
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on June 1, 2010
Mo Hayder has emerged as one of the best detective writers of our time. They are not 'ordinary' procedurals, and this is an example. It is not one of her best, she spends too much time on Flea Marley, in my opinion, but Mo Hayder not at her best is still good. Her other books in the non-detective genre are also superb. I recommend this book.
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