Book 9 – Gone Again by Doug Johnstone

Portobello – a normal, sleepy seaside town on the outskirts of a bustling city. Tragedy turns the lives of a family upside down, leaving a sadness that eats away at their very souls. gone againA frantic tale of love and devotion with a little bit of hardened revenge for the thriller seekers among us.

As a lover of crime, I was intrigued by this book as its setting isn’t far from where I live. I love to read about the unknown just on my doorstep and the first half of the book didn’t disappoint. The grief experienced by the father and son was immediate and fulfilling for the reader and I had thought about who ‘did it’ as I continued to read. I was convinced I had it right but then the author took me down a very dark and morbid path that, for me, took away what could have been a fantastic story. I was left very perplexed by the unrealistic resolution and unnecessary violence for a 6 year old to be part of.  2.5/5

I’ve not really had a lot to do with  Portobello and after reading Gone Again I don’t plan to change things. The author’s imagination takes some beating and things were going along nicely with well-described characters and fine visual imagery and then it all fell apart with a vengeance. All I really wanted to know by the end of this book was how on earth a small boy whose mother had been murdered, with a father who went around slapping and punching various women then stabs a man and murders another, not to mention a granny who’s also in the extermination game, PLUS said small boy has also killed a man in his own front room, hadn’t been put into care. I didn’t really find it either riveting or even faintly believable.  2.5/5

I thought it was a good easy read but the characters were a bit one dimensional. I also thought that the book had a rushed ending and did not have the tension required to make it a particularly good detective  book.

I think this is a book that most people would have enjoyed one half or the other, but I doubt if many people would have enjoyed both. It started off well with the promise of dark family secrets unravelling to reveal a sinister twist in the story line, however it then took a complete U turn and thrust us into a gangster underworld with people popping shots at one another. I also felt every character was trying too hard to be realistic and as a result came across as stereotypical. Instead of having some of the characteristics of a 40 something dad the lead character was crammed with all the characteristics and the same with the son. Also didn’t like the fact that the lead character called his son ‘big guy’ every time he addressed him but that’s just a personal niggle. I enjoyed the first half and would really have liked to have seen that story line developed into something juicy. 2/5


TOTAL SCORE: 17.5/40


About Great Big Jar

Life is like a box of chocolates - well, it would be but I ate them all! I am a writer of children's stories and rhymes. I am currently testing the waters with two new stories for 8+ and 11+ readers - a new exciting genre to sink my teeth into. Drop by and say hello
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