I had not heard of Mo Hayder (www.mohayder.net) prior to reading Gone but I am glad to make her acquaintance. It has been nominated for an Edgar award (Best Novel) by Mystery Writers of America and delivers a mystery to be solved wrapped in enough suspense to keep you up at night, turning those pages. Gone is the fifth offering in a series featuring Detective Inspector Jack Caffery of Bristol’s Major Crime Investigation Unit. His foil is Sergeant Flea Marley, head of the police diving squad, who has a hinted-at past with Caffery.

The book starts with a bang: a woman has her car jacked while she loads the weekly groceries in the trunk (or boot–you’ll learn some Brit vocab from the book). Not a big deal, until we find out her 11-year-old daughter Martha is in the back seat. Caffery is convinced the carjacking is just that, not a kidnapping, and Martha will show up on the side of the road somewhere. She doesn’t.

The carjacker strikes again in a similar way and another little girl disappears. Caffery is stymied when the jacker seems to know what Caffery’s going to do almost as soon as Caffery does. Flea Marley pursues her own theory about the case with a search of an abandoned, flooded tunnel and ratchets up the tension as the jacker is slowly revealed to the reader. The story is resolved in a satisfying climax and (spoiler alert) no children are harmed in the writing of this book.

My reviews of the ten total nominees for Best Novel and Best First Novel each will carry a rating on a liked-least to liked-most scale of 1 to 10.

Gone: 7

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