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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 March 2010
When I started reading this book, I kept having the feeling that I'd read it before. The basic plot - family member goes missing, everyone thinks the hero did it and he has to clear his name while realising that the family member had kept secrets from him - is hardly original, having been used by everyone from Linwood Barclay to Harlan Coben. Having said that, the plot does develop in its own unique way and it is maintains the reader's interest from start to finish.

It opens with a family outing to an amusement park. David's wife Jan has been depressed lately and he hopes that a fun day out will lift her spirits. But almost immediately, their four year old son Ethan goes missing. Ethan is found, but then Jan disappears. David goes to the police, but there is no record of her ever purchasing a ticket or even having entered the park. All the evidence suggests that David is lying about what happened and that he has murdered her.

Linwood Barclay is very good at building little twists into his books: dropping clues that you think mean its going one way, but then it goes another way. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, it would surprise me.

Unlike some of his other books, Barclay holds the story together until the end. Yes, the final couple of chapters are a little silly, and yes, by the end the plot has just got too far-fetched - but not so much that it spoils your enjoyment of the book.

This is the fourth Linwood Barclay book I've read and I felt it was his best yet.
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on 13 October 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
On a visit to a local amusement park, Jan, David Harwood's wife of 5 years, goes missing and naturally he comes under close scrutiny by the local police.

That's basically it for the starting point and the author develops his plot, drawing a tight strand of suspicion around the husband for her disappearance/murder. It's very much a standard beginning for this kind of thriller, but Linwood Barclay does takes events in a not altogether expected direction.

For me, what prevents the book being close to a modern classic is he stops short of upping the suspense level to the point where you can hardly breathe as you read on. You're never entirely convinced that the police feel Harwood is really responsible. This is an essential component of the Hitchcockian thriller (yes, I know he made films rather than wrote books, but you take my point, I hope!). Having said that it is still a hundred miles an hour read and I raced through it in a day, finding it to be engrossing, well plotted and, ultimately, satisfying.

One large flaw, without giving too much away, is a major character is forced to live a lie for quite a few years and this didn't strike me as particularly believable. Still, the author isn't going for major realism here - it's pure enjoyable escapism.

I haven't read a single other reviewer's take on this book but I just KNOW that they're going to be drawing comparisons with Harlan Coben, because this novel definitely has his stamp on it: let's call it Coben-lite. Thing is, I found 'Never Look Away' to be preferable to quite a few of Harlan's thillers.

Why 'Surprisingly Enjoyable Thriller' for my title? Well, one of Barclay's previous three novels was a Richard & Judy Book Club selection. This for me is an almost guarantee that the book is fairly bland, and designed to appeal to a very broad (to be snobbish, often not particularly discriminating) readership. However, have no fear, this book is refreshingly good even though it has 'bestseller' written all over it. I'll definitely be looking out for this guy's earlier stuff.
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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Linwood Barclay covers a similar territory to Harlan Coben, apparently normal suburban American lives, torn apart by events which they are at a loss to understand. But where Coben has become formulaic and repetitive, Barclay has consistently raised his game from his first thriller, No Time For Goodbye. In that novel, an interesting premise and taut writing was let down by a surprisingly mundane denouement.

That is not the case with Never Look Away. Although starting a little slowly, with the set up taking some time, once the real story kicks in things rattle along at pace, with various plot strands and red herrings appearing on almost every page. The small town American characters are believable and the circumstances credible, with only a couple of creaky elements. Still, ignore those and I defy anyone who is into the thriller genre not to enjoy this book.

Recommended
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VINE VOICEon 28 October 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have to say this is one of the best thriller books i have read in years. Extremely well written, it twists and turns all the way through. As a reader you do not know what will happen next, you can't even guess !!

David Harwood a journalist is investigating corruption of a private company planning to build a new prison. On his day off he takes his wife and son to a theme park. The son and his push chair disappear, then his wife disappears. Is it connected to his investigation ? is his wife dead ? No matter, David becomes the prime suspect.

Its an amazing novel to be read in one sitting. I thoroughly enjoyed it and heartily recommend it to every reader.
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VINE VOICEon 20 November 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Harwood family are off for a day out at Five Mountains amusement park. David is hoping that the trip with four-year-old son Ethan will help his wife Jan with her recent depression, which has consisted of her mentioning suicide. The day however, turns into the start of a complete nightmare, which sees this family being turned upside down.

David ends up becoming separated from Jan, and Ethan has been seemingly kidnapped. After searching desperately he does find Ethan, still asleep in his stroller, but after continuous searching David still can not find Jan. He immediately gets the police involved, his thoughts filled with terrifying visions of Jan taking her own life however, just when he thought this whole situation couldn't get any worse, it does. The police don't believe Jan was ever in the park at all, and David can't see, to prove it. CCTV shows no footage of Jan, only of David and Ethan, and David becomes even more confused when the police reveal that only 2 tickets were ever bought online for the park, and Jan had booked those.

As much as the plot sounds rather exciting to this book, I failed to gain any excitement from reading it. It did start off rather well after the initial event, I was intrigued into just who Jan was and where she had gone, but as the book went on I failed to find myself gripped by it at all. The action is fast paced, and it moves along at a good rate, but I personally found the story hard to believe and at times it did feel to lack depth to me. I often read this book in small bursts, as I failed to be pulled into the story as I felt I should have been.

The ending had everything all come together for what should be an explosive ending, but I couldn't help but feel this was simply a quick way to tie all the ends together. In fact in some parts at the end, I just couldn't understand why David acted in the way he did, and again I had trouble believing these aspects of the storyline. It was all tied up nicely in the end, but after reading it all, I felt more relieved that it was over.

Despite having enjoyed a previous book by Linwood Barclay, I personally didn't find this one all that exciting. I can see it appealing to many, but for me I have read much better in this genre and it doesn't put this book in the top reads for me.
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VINE VOICEon 7 September 2010
I couldn't wait for this book to come out, and had luckily finished reading another book the evening before this one arrived in the post. I knew I would be in for a sleepless night or two as once I pick up a Linwood Barclay book, I find it hard to put it down again!

This is another absolutely fantastic read - his books just get better and better. The twists and turns never fail to amaze - the characters are so well described that you find yourself really 'believing' in them and sharing their emotional journey.

I don't want to give any of the plot away, I'd hate to spoil it for anyone. I love this book - and now can't wait for Mr Barclay's next offering.
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on 24 September 2010
As an avid reader of all american crime this started off as a great book, sadly the game was given away too early and the ending was very week.
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VINE VOICEon 20 January 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When newspaper reporter David Harwood's wife goes missing the police suspect that he has murdered her and he must race against time to try and prove his innocence.Meanwhile, his campaign to expose corruption in the local council has led to him being threatened by the millionare owner of privately owned prisons who wants to build one on the outskirts of town.

I really enjoyed this.There are plenty of twists and turns,a decent ammount of characterisation and the writing is simple and clear.

On the plus side,despite its breakneck pace, Barclay manages for the most part to make the disappearance of Harwood's wife both scarily realistic and satisfyingly mysterious as he alternates the story between first and third person narative.

On the downside, I found the subplot of the millionare businessman,Elmont Sebastian, and his thuggish employee rather less convincing.There are also a couple of other characters (I won't say which and spoil the plot) who are a bit of a cliche.Also, I thought the final thirty pages or so a bit of a letdown,perhaps inevitably given how clever much of what precedes it had been.However,none of that spoiled the book for me.

Despite those caveats, I would defintely recommend this to anyone looking for a gripping page turner that draws you in from the very first page.
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on 14 August 2011
If a suspense thriller is predictable then it's not exactly a suspense thriller, is it?

While not giving away the plot, all I would say is the first time story changes gear I knew where it was headed and having read last three books from the author I would say this was the least impressive.

The other way of evaluating it would be with what choices do you have? If you have any book on your reading list that you have been putting off, this book should not be the reason to postpone that and you can give it a skip if not it certainly won't be a boring read.
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on 22 October 2011
Many have covered the story line so I won't rehash what others have written and get into Spoiler territory!!
The books starts off well full of intrigue with David Harwood and his wife (Jan) and young child (Ethan) going to an Amusement Park.
At first Ethan goes missing and then is found much to the relief of David but then, at almost the same time, Jan goes missing!!
In spite of exhaustive efforts she seems to have vanished into thin air and has mysteriously, it seems, had never even entered into the Amusement Park despite examining detailed footage of CCTV.
It then moves into phase two which starts to unravel more and whilst not up to the initial fast pace it still engages you.
However when I found out the reasons why (I won't say any more than this) I felt quite disappointed.
I finished the book and although it had its moments it was at best an OK read.
On the plus side the author didn't try and turn David from a normal bloke, struggling to comprehend what was happenng to him, into a Jack Reacher or Harry Bosch character which made him all the more plausible.
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