Top positive review
40 of 45 people found this helpful
Better than the series
on April 12, 2011
Gone continues a story that spans, now, three novels, and it's much better than the other two (and, fortunately, you don't need them to read it).
Ritual and Skin, along with Pig Island, demonstrate that Mo Hayder is not a very consistent writer. It's hard to believe that the author of Birdman and The Devil of Nanking could have written a book as bad as Pig Island, but there it is. When Hayder is too fixated on what Stephen King calls "the gross out" (and identifies as the last resort of a good horror writer) to devote attention to consistency and coherence, her books are tiresome and embarrassing.
However, when she is good, she is very, very good. Gone comes closer to good than gross-out. Although it proceeds directly from the last page of Ritual, you don't need to know how Flea Marley ended up with something very unfortunate in her trunk, and Jack Caffrey's apparently permanent miseries do not require entire novels of backstory. Their pursuit of a kidnapper of little girls is a page-turner, and the criminal is about as revolting as most of us can imagine (except for an odd twist at the end). Flea's adventure in the tunnel seems to take up half the book, and the pages turn quickly.
I have quibbles -- It's a bit of cheat (you'll see what I mean) that we don't learn the mechanices of how someone gets impaled on a spike, and there is a bit of Hayder's trademark piling on in what happens to Flea (if you think YOU had a bad day...). As with so many of Hayder's books, the weakest link is the conclusion. She is brilliant at getting into fixes, but vague about getting out again.
I read all this, and I wonder why I bothered to give the book four stars. In part because my expectations were so low, after the disappointments of Skin and Ritual and the simple revulsion over Pig Island (there are very few books I wish I had not read; Pig Island tops the list). In part because Hayder is peddling a mixture of pace and theme at appeals to me, when she is on her game. And here, she is.