Investigative reporter David Harwood’s been concerned about his wife Jan’s apparent depression – she’s been taking mental health days at work, had a couple of not so accidental accidents, and told him of flirting with the idea of jumping of a nearby bridge. So when she has the idea of a family expedition to the local amusement park David jumps at the idea, even if their four year old son Ethan is more anxious about roller coasters than excited. When Jan loses Ethan, taking her eyes off his stroller for only an instant, David is terrified. The sleeping child is found within minutes, before park security even start looking, but David’s relief is short-lived, because Jan abruptly vanishes. Unlike Ethan, not only does she stay vanished, the preliminary investigation shows no sign of her entering Five Mountains, of booking the tickets, or even of her recent depression. As David looks increasingly like the chief suspect in a domestic crime he tries desperately to make sense of his life, and his marriage.
Barclay’s stock in trade is domestic terror, and Never Look Away is a worthy addition to a fine stable. The reader is quickly aware that David was duped from the beginning, and as the novel unfolds we learn more about Jan’s motivation, alongside David’s increasingly frantic search to uncover the truth and protect his child. There’s also a secondary plot, about a political intrigue David was working on in the lead up to the Five Mountain’s trip, and some nice character development overall. There are a couple of gory moments, but for the most part this is more a psychological suspense and very well done; though not my favourite of his works to date, Barclay off his best nonetheless excels. - Alex