This was one of those “you might like” Amazon suggestions, and how right they were! I have never heard of Blake Pierce and I see no other publications from him on his Amazon page, but I can absolutely say that I am waiting, with bated breath, for the second installment of this series.
There is a serial killer on the hunt and Special Agent Riley Paige and her partner are on the case. Riley is still recovering from her last close encounter with the psychologically unstable, which resulted in her being captured and tortured by the perpetrator, she’s struggling to parent a teenage aged daughter, her ex-husband is looking for any reason to discredit her and her mind has yet to fully recover from the trauma it experienced.
Having reached a dead end with the case, butting head with the brass and verbally berating a victim’s father, Riley is suspended. She spirals further out of control and cannot seem to separate her mind’s paranoia from reality, with flashbacks being triggered at the most inopportune moments. She seems to be hallucinating and her instincts are clearly rusty, making her suspicious of everyone.
This was a fantastically easy read, with a plethora of information and break-neck pace. It’s not a very long book but I found myself unable to put it down. Pierce is wonderfully descriptive without getting lost in the details. The problem that most suspense thrillers face is keeping the twists hidden long enough, but not too long that their reveal seems contrived. Pierce was able to keep me suitably enthralled and pleasantly surprised at all the right moments.
Riley’s character development was believable and her fractured psyche was fascinating to witness. At some points, she has the reader entirely convinced that she is losing her mind and should not be allowed near a firearm of any kind. Simultaneously, she is a headstrong, independent character but clearly not equipped to deal with the trauma she has experienced. She has no experience of this level of vulnerability and as such, struggles to reconcile her current psychological state with her usual self. I enjoyed the complexity of her and partner’s relationship. A professional relationship with a long, trusting history, where they are able to communicate their grief, displeasure and disappointment with just a look.
“‘Agent Walder,’ Riley said, trying not to sound as impatient as she felt, ‘Greta Tedrow is one of the most observant witnesses I’ve ever interviewed in a very long time. She said that she didn’t see the license plate number, didn’t ‘catch’ it. Not even one number. That bothered her. She didn’t know how she could miss it. Coming from someone with a memory as sharp as hers, that can only mean one thing.’
She paused, challenging Walder to guess what that ‘one thing’ might be. She could tell by his vacant expression that he had no idea.
‘There was no license plate to see,’ she finally said. ‘Either the attacker had removed it or it had been muddied up and made unreadable. All she saw was a blank space where the license plate should have been. If a legible license plate had been here, that woman would have caught at least part of it.'”
– Chapter 17
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It was well-paced, with rounded, emotionally realistic characters and an intriguing serial killer. Having read some of the most vitriolic excrement that the literary bowls of Amazon could eject, this was a much needed and immensely welcomed change of genre, pace and plot.
The plot was not entirely original but the way in which it was handle by Pierce’s characters was what kept me turning the pages. It was almost as if I could feel Riley’s adrenaline spikes, her frustration over her failing relationship with her daughter, and even her anxiety when questioning her own reality. Pierce went through a lot of trouble to understand the survivor’s plight. Sometimes, a survivor is not grateful to have made it through because of the psychological scars that the event can leave behind.
I managed to read this in just over a day. That said, it was a fun, thrilling read, which I would happily recommend to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller on the go.
My rating: 4.5/5
Buy Once Gone from Amazon
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