Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Literally the Best Reviews: Never Look Back

Never Look Back - Alison Gaylin
William Morrow Paperbacks
346 Pages

Have you ever read a mystery story that keeps you guessing until the very nearly the end, and keeps your nerves jumping with each turn of the page? With Alison Gaylin’s Never Look Back, that’s exactly what you get. I spent one evening reading this book, staying up way past my bedtime to finish it and find out what the hidden truth ended up being.

At the beginning, April Cooper is an innocent, young teen on her way home from school, when she discovers something terrible that her boyfriend, Gabriel LeRoy, has committed. This act has drawn April into a series of events that reverberates across the country and leaves behind death and destruction. Their spree ends in a fiery cataclysm.

Fast forward four decades and their heinou acts are still on people’s minds. One of the relatives of one of the victims meets up with one of the parents of the victims. It seems fairly normal until the reader realizes the close connection between the interviewer and his subject. This sets off a chain of events that thrusts us back into the mayhem of the 1976 crime spree.

Quentin Garrison is a podcaster who is intimately tied to April’s and Gabriel’s heinous acts. His aunt was one of the women killed. While preparing his show about this topic, his research leads him to believe that April Cooper is still alive, despite the reports of her death in a fire as police closed in. Garrison delves deeper into the mystery and begins to draw in other people who have ties, inlcuding a film critic from New York City, Robin Diamond.

As their storylines converge, snippets of family history call the official record into question. In a subtle game of subterfuge, Gaylin prepares us for a trip down one path when all the forks lead away from that destination. In a stunning series of twists, the tragedy of those far off days resonate forty years later and one again cause incredible pain for the people involved.

Alison Gaylin has put together a mystery that will keep the reader guessing until the very end. It’s a matter of sometimes the obvious choice isn’t the right one until it actually is. If that makes no sense, I simply urge you to read the book. You will understand by the end of the novel if you follow the events very carefully.

Ultimately, this is a book, not only about the mystery of April Cooper, but of trust. Who can you trust if yoiu can’t trust your family? When that erodes, it gives the characters, especially Robin, a means to propel the story at breajneck speed though a series of personal “what-ifs.” And who do you turn to when the trust is broken between you and those closest to you?

As an avid reader, I was extremely happy to find a book that engaged me so fully. I could not read the pages fast enough in order to uncover the mystery. While not an actual event, the story told was so realistic and engaging. It reminded me of a dramitization of a ture crime. Sometimes, those are my favorite things to read when I’ve burned myself out on the endless stream of fiction novels. Luckily, I feel like I got both at once with Never Look Back.

If you’re looking for a book to pass the slow, winter weekend, Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin might be just the book for you. While there are some other reviews that don’t give this book the full credit I believe it deserves, a majority agree with my take. This is an excellent book.

Craig Bacon does everything he can to keep his personal history well hidden. He usually fails.