Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Review of "Two Days Gone" by Randall Silvis

Thomas Huston seems to have everything going for him. He's a college professor, best selling author, and devoted family man - with a beautiful wife, Claire, and three wonderful children, Thomas Jr., Alyssa, and David. Then one night Claire and the children are brutally murdered.....and Huston goes on the run. The professor immediately becomes the prime suspect in the eyes of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Police Sergeant Ryan DeMarco gets the job of tracking Huston down. As it happens the two men are acquainted, having met when Huston was researching a 'state trooper character' for his new book. DeMarco got a favorable impression of Huston and can't fathom how the writer could wipe out his whole family.

DeMarco isn't a stranger to tragedy himself. Years ago he and his wife Laraine lost a child in a tragic car accident. Inconsolable, Laraine left DeMarco and began a string of one-night-stands. For his part DeMarco took to excessive drinking and lurking outside his estranged wife's apartment.

The novel is told from the alternating points of view of Huston and DeMarco. As the story unfolds Huston is trudging through the freezing woods, looking for food and shelter, hoping to get assistance from a woman he calls Annabel. The writer is distraught and disturbed and thinks of himself as a character in his own book.

DeMarco, meanwhile, interviews Huston's neighbors, colleagues, and students - trying to figure out the writer's state of mind and where he might go. One student, Nathan Briessen, informs the detective that Huston kept a journal and that his new book is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's poems and Vladimir Nabokov's novel "Lolita" - all of which are liberally referenced in the story. Thus "Two Days Gone" feels like a literary novel as well as a mystery. For me though, the numerous literary references stalled the story a little too much.

While chasing Huston, DeMarco uses troopers and dogs..... and stakes out places Huston might go. All this heightens the suspense. Eventually DeMarco learns the truth about what occurred on the night of the murders and what led up to it. This revelation is followed by additional drama - with some twists and surprises.

The story contains a variety of compelling characters, but to mention specifics would lessen the thrill of discovery, so I'll refrain. (You're welcome. LOL)

"Two Days Gone" is very dark but there are lighter moments when DeMarco is bantering with his station commander, Sargeant Kyle Bowen. I enjoyed these humorous scenes, which provided a respite from the tension. At one point, DeMarco calls his boss an asshole, and Bowen says "I'm getting a little annoyed with your insubordination. From now on, it's Sargeant Asshole." (ha ha ha)

This is a well-written, well-plotted book that I'd recommend to mystery fans.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book.

Rating: 3.5 stars