Gone is a solid and engrossing mystery with a fairly suspenseful plot. However, readers should not expect a romance, because this isn’t one, although it does examine the relationship between a husband and wife.
Rainie Connor Quincy, a capable former cop turned child advocate, has strangely disappeared in the middle of the night, leaving her car by the side of the road. Her husband [Pierce] Quincy, a retired FBI profiler, should have known where she was, but Rainie had been battling internal demons that drove them apart. Now, Rainie may be battling an enemy of a different kind. Quincy’s daughter Kimberly is an active FBI profiler, and she joins the battle with local authorities as they try to figure out where Rainie has gone and how to get her back.
The mystery, once it gets going, is well-plotted and exciting, with many twists that kept me guessing throughout the course of the novel. The author does a great job with the multiple storylines and a large cast of characters. She alternates between Rainie’s plight, the search efforts of the authorities, Quincy (not used to such a powerless role), and Kimberly, as well as involving numerous side characters, such as a disturbed foster boy who both knows Rainie and knows more than he should.
Overall, I enjoyed the author’s writing style. The dialogue is sharp throughout and it feels authentic, even when a particular plot twist is less than plausible. Another positive aspect was that Gardner has a number of strong female characters who are all distinctly different.
However, it took me a long while to feel for the main characters, and that’s because the nuts and bolts of the disappearance plot take precedence over basic things like who Rainie is, why she was driving alone at night, and why she and Quincy were separated. Rainie clearly has issues but there’s no clue as to who is at fault for them, so why should I care that she’s in danger? In the beginning, I felt sorry for Quincy for being married to her, which I suspect was not the intended effect. The author slowly reveals details about these characters, while the mystery of Rainie’s whereabouts moves much quicker. Consequently, it’s clear early on that Rainie’s life is in danger, but it’s not as clear why I should care about her, and this is frustrating.
The author eventually gives enough details about Rainie and the other characters that I began to feel strongly for their fate, but it took a while. Rainie and Quincy are shown to be tough people who have faced much danger before, and I grew to admire them and their vulnerabilities. Rainie and Quincy’s estrangement is explained, but very few details are given about how they actually fell in love, which was disappointing. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the author expected me to know and care about these characters before having read this book, because their love was already detailed in previous books. That’s a pet peeve of mine, and, since I entered this series with no knowledge of those books, it did detract from my enjoyment of this one. On the flip side, the book was still strong enough that I am now very interested in the previous books that I missed out on.
Another thing to note is that the author really puts her characters through the grinder. If you like your heroes and heroines to emerge victorious and physically unblemished, this is not the book for you. I admire the author for taking this unusual step, but at times I did get a little squeamish and wondered if the torture was really necessary.
As a newcomer to this series, I became engrossed in the author’s plotting, but it was difficult for me to care about these characters when it seemed expected that I would already be invested in them. Luckily, I eventually did care, and I am looking forward to exploring the author’s backlist.