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Gone is the third installment of what Mo Hayder originally described as her "walking man" trilogy which sees Dectective Jack Caffrey of Birdman and Treatment fame re-locating from the dusty streets of London to fresh stomping grounds. Many of the story-arcs and plot threads from the preceeding two novels carry on here but anyone expecting some neat, tidy conclusion that ties everything up will be left feeling very disappointed!
This time around the main story-line focuses around a car-jacking criminal who is stealing cars with young children still inside. At first, Caffrey believes it to be a mistake and that that the car thief at first didn't realise a kid was in back but as the Unsub strikes again, it quickly becomes apparent that he knows all too well what he is doing!
Though any potential for relationship between Police Diver, Flea and D.I. Jack Caffrey is temporarily on hold, due in part because Caffrey has become aware of a highly explosive secret Flea is hiding, the pair are forced into working together once more and this does nothing to ease the strain of what is becoming an increasingly more complicated and stressful investigation. With time running out, Caffrey knows that the clock is against him recovering any of the abducted children alive!
Though Birdman and The Treatment were both very well written, it feels as though Hayder has had her moment and that these latest books are just filling a gap in the market for fans not satisfied that Caffrey's tale was done. Indeed, every successive novel since her debut has seemed to suffer more in quality with often the main crux of the story being good but the ending never quite managing to impress. Certainly these "walking man" books of hers add nothing to what we already know of Caffrey and could feature any generic Detective without losing anything. In short, they could easily have been written by almost any other crime-writer, half-asleep and only partially bothered by the end result!
I really wanted to enjoy this, and for 3/4 of the book found myself doing so, but just really began to get tired by the end. The culprit is fairly obvious right from the start and not the red-herring that I thought they might be which really disappointed and the whole relationship between Caffrey and Flea is left sooo unconclusive that if another book doesn't come out featuring these two characters in the next few years, I will be very surprised!
PARTIAL SPOILER OF THIS SERIES: If you have not read Skin or Ritual, you may not want to read this but one of the things I hated the most about this book is the way Flea seems to have gotten away with her earlier actions almost entirely unpunished and the way that Hayder has made Caffrey an accomplice by knowing what she has done just seems wrong! It gives over entirely the wrong message ~ that bad deeds by those in authority CAN go without any form of consequence ~ and it is a plot angle that really bugged me and pretty much ruined the two main characters for me! And, judging from reviews I have read on Amazon and other sites, I am not alone in this! END OF SPOILER!
Overall, this book is unfortunately not as good as the sum of its parts would suggest. It is a poor end to the current Caffrey series, pretty much a very average crime thriller at best and really not worth buying! Though the main parts of the story work well, the ending is a cop-out and if you must read this, may I suggest you help your local library and loan this out instead of wasting your hard-earned cash! This only cost me £1.50 from a local second-hand bookshop and I now begrudge even paying that!