Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Long And Faraway Gone by Lou Berney

They are both stuck in the past of Oklahoma City, mired in the violence that shook their lives twenty-five years ago.  Wyatt was a fifteen year old working his first job; an usher in the local movie theatre.  He is the only survivor when armed men break in at closing and kill everyone else during a robbery.  Five people gone in a minute, leaving him to wonder why he was spared.  Juliana lost her beloved older sister that same year.  She left Juliana at the state fair for what she said was 'just a minute' and never returned.  No sign of her was ever found.

Neither have really been able to move on.  Wyatt is now a private investigator, moving around the country solving other people's crimes.  This summer is his first time back in the city since he left at eighteen.  Juliana is still in Oklahoma City, afraid to leave in case some news of her sister should emerge.  Neither has been able to move on, mired in the past and unable to move past the huge event that changed the bedrock of their lives.  Relationships have been transitory as who can be counted on to stay?  Jobs are just something to get money to live and easily jettisoned when something else comes up. 

A job brings Wyatt back to the city and both individuals take steps to solve the crimes that have defined them.  The novel moves back and forth between their stories.  One might expect that they meet and work together, but this is not that kind of story.  Instead, it is the bleak story of how crime affects an individual, one moment's violence changing a life forever. 

Lou Berney teaches writing at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University.  He is a television and film screenwriter.  His two previous books have both been nominated for awards such as The Barry and The Edgar Award.  His ability to draw in the reader and show the real effects of crime makes this novel stand out.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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