From the very beginning of Haylen Beck’s ‘Here and Gone’, you know something isn’t quite right.  A very bold start with a devastating turn of events very early on is illustrated perfectly with just one quote. You’ll know it when you read it.

Audra, wife, mother, sometimes punchbag, is on the run from her abusive husband and his overbearing, interfering, extremely well-off Mother, when she stops for some water & snacks at a petrol station and sees a Sheriffs car. Nervous of the police in case family lawyers have been sent on her trail to take back the children, she is nervous, but relieved when she leaves the station and all seems well. Shortly afterwards, however, the horror begins. The Sheriff follows Audra and pulls her over – from then things very quickly go from bad to worse to downright unbearable, especially when those who are supposed to help Audra become the ones she needs rescuing from.

The story is narrated by different people, including Audra, and her narrative gives us an invaluable window into the life lived behind closed doors. Audra has a questionable past with drink & prescription drugs and has spent a lot of her young children’s lives out of it – are her recollections all they seem to be? Is Patrick, her husband involved somehow, punishing her for taking his children away from him? Enter Danny, who endured something similar 5 years ago, and who is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and those behind it.

What made this book so good for me is twofold – the plot and the characters. Both are brilliant. The plot is chillingly plausible and every parent’s nightmare. Audra is a tough cookie, much tougher than she thinks, and Danny is a legend in the making. Sean and Louise are well written and brave in that way that only children can be when they have no clue what is happening.

I loved this book, I was hooked from the opening chapter and I was done a few hours later – it is genuinely ‘un-put-downable!’  I can’t fault it, it really is the perfect thriller.