By Ekta R. Garg
September 11, 2019
Release date: August 30, 2019
Rated: Binge it! / 5 stars
A policeman puzzles over the disappearance of his daughter’s friend, despite his initial misgivings that she’s missing at all. The longer she’s gone, however, the more convinced he becomes that she didn’t leave town of her own accord. After a hiatus, author Paul Pilkington is back with another thriller in the excellent novel Long Gone, the first in a series starring Pilkington’s newest hero, DCI Paul Cullen.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Cullen is having a bad day. As a cop on the British Transport Police force, his jurisdiction includes any crimes committed on London’s public transportation. While on duty he follows a hunch and rushes after a suspect, only to lose him in the worst way possible. The senior officer recommends a week off so he can clear his head and so the department can conduct an inquiry.
Paul loves being a cop; he considers it his life’s calling and worries about the potential fallout from his actions. When his daughter, Amy, calls, Paul welcomes the distraction. He needs something to occupy his time and mind.
Amy isn’t calling just to say hello, however. Her roommate, Natalie, was supposed to come back on the train the previous evening after a weekend at a job interview. The last text Amy received from Natalie was that she was boarding the train and that she’d made a mistake trying for the job. Since then, she hasn’t heard from Natalie. No text and no roommate.
Paul hesitates to do anything. He doesn’t doubt Amy’s sincerity, but he does wonder whether she might be misreading the facts. The previous year Amy struggled with anxiety, and while she’s learned to manage it and turned her life around for the better Paul still worries about her. In fact, Amy’s challenges drove a wedge between Paul and his wife who he’s now trying to win back.
Amy is insistent, however. When Natalie doesn’t come home, Paul’s police instincts get alerted. Because of his leave of absence, he has the time on his hands to look into what happened. Now he’ll just have to remain wary of whatever forces took Natalie, his own colleagues, and even the media if he wants to help bring the girl home.
Author Paul Pilkington comes back in full force with a compelling story that will convince readers to stay up long past their bedtimes. As always, every single strand of the plot is pulled taut until it rings with authenticity. Pilkington weaves his mysteries with care; the result is a complex tapestry of good old-fashioned thriller fun.
Paul Cullen as the protagonist is complicated and flawed. While he never loses sight of what’s ultimately right or wrong, he doesn’t hesitate to get close to the line between the two when it means searching for the truth. Pilkington sets up Paul Cullen well for future mysteries; although readers never get to meet Paul’s wife, his relationship with his daughter will endear both to readers. If she appears in any of them, Amy will be a welcome addition to future Paul Cullen mysteries.
Pilkington will keep readers guessing until the end about Natalie’s whereabouts by setting up what seems like an impossible premise: Natalie disappears after a weekend at an invitation-only job recruitment event and receiving praise for her performance there. While the fallout might feel familiar, from other books, the way Pilkington leads his readers from one plot point to another is invigorating.
Fans of Paul Pilkington’s work will not be disappointed. Anyone new to his books will find this a great place to start. I recommend readers Binge Long Gone.