I just put this book down and practically ran to the computer to write this review. If you like a good thriller, buy this book. Mystery? Buy this book. Page-turner? Ditto.
I discovered John Rector's work by accident. I saw and liked the cover art for "The Grove," thought the description was intriguing, and took a chance on it. It turned out to be one of my favorite books of the year: taut, suspenseful, and a terrific exploration of a wounded mind. I then went right to Rector's "The Cold Kiss," and found the same qualities there that I had loved before: riveting suspense, believable characters, and more than a few gasp-out-loud moments. Needless to say, I was eager to see what Mr. Rector would come up with next, and I wasn't disappointed. "Already Gone" is a terrific thriller, following a college professor with a questionable past as his life unravels around him at a breakneck pace. One of the things I liked most about the novel was its opening: the reader barely has cracked it open when an act of shocking violence occurs. We don't know why it occurs or anything about the hero. But then, rather than jumping into a ton of background and exposition, Rector gives us tiny bits and pieces about the story's hero, leaving his past - and all the "Why's" of the story - a mystery for quite some time. As a reader who doesn't like things obviously spelled out, I found this choice brilliant. Once the plot gets going, you'll meet some unforgettable characters and be taken through some incredible and creative twists - all of which I found in keeping with the story, style, and genre. Once I hit the halfway point, I couldn't put it down and read well into the night.
One thing: I noticed on this page that one reader talked about how sadistic the novel's violence is. I seem to recall a similar comment on the page for "The Grove." I don't know if it's the same person, but regardless, I totally disagree. Rector's stories are dark, to be sure, but "sadistic" is absolutely overkill. His style is lean and direct, even sparse, but never gratuitous. (I'd bet that the reviewer prefers more old-fashioned mysteries.)
Rector is the real deal, and I hope he finds the audience he deserves. Give this book a shot, as well as "The Grove" and "The Cold Kiss."