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The Long and Faraway Gone

by Lou Berney

Kirkus Twenty-five years after a devastating shooting and the unrelated disappearance of a teenage girl, the survivors of both events struggle to find out what really happened so they can move on with their separate lives. Edgar nominee Berney (Whiplash River, 2012) introduces two damaged but engaging characters: Wyatt, the sole survivor of a robbery/shooting at a movie theater that left six other people dead; and Julianna, whose beautiful and mercurial older sister, Genevieve, disappeared at the Oklahoma State Fair and has been presumed murdered ever since. The plot is driven by their searches for what happened in the past as well as a present-day mystery that brings Wyatt, now a private detective, home to Oklahoma City, the site of both earlier losses. Berney alternates his focus between their two stories, and while their paths do cross once or twice, there is no forced blending of the narratives. As in classic noir, the evocation of a specific placeOklahoma Cityand time's effects add another layer of meaning. Also as suggested by the noir-ish title and tradition, Berney's novel is most truly a thoughtful exploration of memory and what it means to be a survivor. Elegiac and wistful, it is a lyrical mystery that focuses more on character development than on reaching the "big reveal." The novel smartly avoids being coy; there are answers to private detective Wyatt's case and answers to the mysteries from the past, but they reflect the truth of such moments; in the end, the answers are almost beside the point because the wondering, the questions, never really go away. But both characters do achieve their own kind of closure, and that allows the reader to also feel some comfort of fulfillment. A mystery with a deep, wounded heart. Read it. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list *Starred Review* Affable Las Vegas PI Wyatt is happy doing background checks for casinos on potential management hires and getting home in time for dinner with his significant other, Laurie. When a casino exec asks him to look into who is harassing one of his in-laws, Wyatt is reluctant to take the case. When he learns he must go to Oklahoma City for it, he is emotionally rocked. Twenty-six years before, he was a 15-year-old OKC movie usher who, inexplicably, was spared execution in the murder of every other employee. That same summer, Julianna attended the state fair with her adored older sister, the beautiful and occasionally wild Genevieve, who disappeared into the crowd and was never seen again. Now a nurse, Julianna remains obsessed with Genevieve's disappearance. Wyatt's return to OKC brings everything back in a rush. Berney's first two novels (Gutshot Straight, 2011; Whiplash River, 2012) were delightful, Elmore Leonard-style crime novels. This time he's focused, very insightfully, on love, loss, and memory, and he astutely portrays the immediate and long-term psychological impact of the loss of the most important people in his characters' young lives. Wyatt, Juli, Genevieve, and Wyatt's dead coworkers are all fully realized creations that readers won't soon forget. A genuinely memorable novel of ideas.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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