Faithful readers will know I flipped over Mo Hayder‘s crime novel, Gone, last year. Enthusiasm galore documented here. Explored the backlist, with subsequent thoughtful gushing here. So it was with great delight that I saw it was on the nomination list for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel. And as I have been reading the other nominees, in the back of my mind has been the nagging thought that I might be predisposed to rank Gonehighest just because I “discovered” it. This led to a great deal of reflection on the options – do I read it last so the other novels have a fair shot? Do I read it first and get it over with? Read it somewhere in the middle? In the middle it is.
And I have to say, rereading it was a pleasure. The second time around with any mystery, the pressure’s off. You know how the plot will turn out, so the page-turning is not quite so frantic. You can enjoy the turn of the phrase, the character interaction, the turning points in a way that you never can the first time around. Which of course, leads me to posit that I need to re-read all the other nominated books to make an even playing field. Bah, enough.
I won’t rehash my previous review, except to say that Gone is well-written. The characters of Flea Marley and Jack Caffery are so real they jump off the page. The twists and turns are smart and you don’t feel like a dummy for not guessing the bad guy, because nobody else does either. So how does Gone stack up against the other nominees?
When it comes to plot, characterization, and reader engagement, Gone has it all over the other entries. For voice, The Ranger may edge it out, just because Atkins’ voice is so distinctive. Still, with only Phillip Kerr’s Field Gray left to read, it looks like Gone‘s the one to beat. Here is the Literary Lunchbox ranking for the Edgar to date:
- Gone by Mo Hayder
- The Ranger by Ace Atkins
- The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
- 1222 by Anne Holt