Most helpful critical review
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2013
A family disappears suddenly, leaving dinner cooking on the stove and their dog wandering round the house. Some months later the police investigation has come to a dead end and the remaining member of the family (the missing mother's sister) calls in an old school friend who is a private investigator. He has troubles of his own, but takes the case on anyway. Soon he starts to put the pieces together and in doing so places himself right in the line of fire.
I hadn't heard of Tim Weaver before I received this book from Real Readers so didn't have any idea what to expect when I started it. The cover gives it a Linwood Barclay kind of vibe, not exactly a crime novel, not exactly a thriller, but something in between which addresses the central crime from angle of the effect it has on the family of the victims and on those who investigate it. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, as this is exactly what "Never Coming Back" is like.
It's big thick book which looks like it'll take you an age to read, but once I started I found myself rattling through it double-quick to find out what happened. I found the first 50 pages or so the most demanding as it took me that long to get used to the flashbacks and the way the novel is written. After that I got into the way of it and there was no stopping me.
I understand that there are previous novels featuring David Raker, the book's protagonist, but you don't need to have read them to understand or get involved with this novel. Doubtless having read them would add to your experience, but you can manage fine without them.
I found David a likeable character, but he's definitely of the world-weary, existential, I-have-my-own-problems school of investigator. I felt at times that he tipped into cliché, but fortunately it didn't happen often enough for me to get annoyed about it. Most of the other major characters were equally well-drawn, but some of the more minor ones looked to have been sourced from Rent-A-Villain.
By its very nature, the book is more about the plot than it is about characterisation and that's completely fine if that's what you're looking for in a read. I liked the vast majority of the plot and found it convincing, but there were two areas where I thought the author's choices were facile and rather obvious. As I don't want to spoil anyone else's experience of the book I won't say any more on this, other than to say that I felt the novel was slightly let down by these two aspects.
This is the kind of book you can read for pleasure and to be taken out of yourself. It's not demanding and will sweep you along with it for most of the way. I enjoyed it, but felt let down by the author's choices in a couple of areas. However, there's still a lot to enjoy about the book and I would definitely recommend that others read it and make up their own minds.