Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Book Review: GOOD AS GONE by Douglas Corleone

Good As Gone

Title: Good as Gone 
Author: Douglas Corleone
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Read: July 30 - August 02, 2013

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Former U.S. Marshal Simon Fisk works as a private contractor, tracking down and recovering children who were kidnapped by their own estranged parents. He only has one rule: he won’t touch stranger abduction cases. He’s still haunted by the disappearance of his own daughter when she was just a child, still unsolved, and stranger kidnappings hit too close to home.

Until, that is, six-year-old Lindsay Sorkin disappears from her parents’ hotel room in Paris, and the French police deliver Simon an ultimatum: he can spend years in a French jail, or he can take the case and recover the missing girl. Simon sets out in pursuit of Lindsay and the truth behind her disappearance. But Lindsay’s captors did not leave an easy trail, and following it will take Simon across the continent, through the ritziest nightclubs and the seediest back alleys, into a terrifying world of international intrigue and dark corners of his past he’d rather leave well alone.

My thoughts:

Ten years ago, Simon Fisk’s six-year-old daughter Hailey was abducted from the family home, never to be seen again. Devastated by grief and guilt, his wife Tasha committed suicide a short while later. For the last ten years, Simon has tried to outrun his demons by tracking down children unlawfully abducted by non-custodial parents, wanting to spare others the grief of losing a child Simon had to experience himself. However, he has never had to deal with abduction by strangers, so when he is approached by French authorities to help locate a six-year-old American girl taken from her parents’ hotel room in Paris, he has serious misgivings about getting involved. To rescue little Lindsay Sarkin, and save her parents the unspeakable pain Simon has had to live with for the last ten years, Simon must risk his own life to discover why Lindsay was taken, and who is behind the abduction – and time is fast running out. In a desperate man-hunt which will take Simon across several European and Eastern-block countries, he tries to outwit ruthless killers who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Good as Gone is a fast-paced, action packed thriller which gripped me from the very first page and kept me entertained until the very end. Simon Fisk, the solitary vigilante fighting for justice was both an intriguing as well as an enigmatic protagonist, and I found myself wanting to know more about him. Fisk, with his US Marshall background and a painful past, which reads like a parent’s worst nightmare, is a moralistic  character in the vein of Jack Reacher – a man who will stop at nothing to get justice and who is not afraid to risk his own life for it, perhaps because he has nothing to lose. In Good as Gone, his mission takes on a new perspective when a woman he feels attracted to joins him in his mission, and Simon faces the moral dilemma of putting her in the path of danger. The small element of romance hinting at the possibility for Fisk to move on and find love again took some of the edge off the sadness prevailing in his life, and introduced a touch of hope and warmth in an otherwise grim situation.

Good as Gone is entirely propelled by fast paced action and suspense. As the body count mounts on the side of the “baddies”, whose untimely demise is always justified by being rightly deserved, Fisk narrowly escapes being one of the casualties himself despite a few flesh-wounds along the way. Although well-plotted, a few crucial developments in the novel hinge on some convenient coincidences which necessitate the reader to suspend disbelief for the sake of reading pleasure and entertainment. Normally a bit anal about such matters, I usually roll my eyes and mutter “yeah right” under my breath, but the fast pace of the novel and Fisk’s mission were enough to get me so caught up in the storyline that I managed to overlook these flaws in an otherwise very compelling story.

From child-pornography to sex-trafficking, from drug-dealing to arms-secrets, from underworld criminals to political corruption – all these issues and more feature strongly in Corleone’s latest thriller. And whilst one easily gets swept up in the action, the novel also raises some very topical issues and gives food for thought. For example, the poverty in Eastern block countries giving rise to exploitation of women and children in a perverted sex-trade, even involving whole families. Or the fate of residents of the Belarus region, who still suffer from the after effects of the Chernobyl disaster and have to watch their children die from horrific birth-defects or thyroid cancer. Even Fisk’s missions always have a shadow-side, as a previous case leading to the death of a girl he tracked down in Germany for her custodial parent shows. The ending of the novel, too, throws into question the black-or-white, right-or-wrong aspects of situations, and the final twist came totally unexpected.

Good as Gone is an action-packed adventure thriller which should appeal to both genders and to readers across many age-groups, providing readers can suspend disbelief for the sake of entertainment value. Especially parents will be able to relate to Fisk’s driven nature on account of his traumatic background, and find his latest mission very compelling.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Please note that the final published copy may vary from the one I reviewed.

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