By Ekta R. Garg
January 4, 2017
Rated: Borrow it / 3 stars
A cop must delve into his own troubled past when he lands one of the hardest cases of his career: to find a local professor accused of murdering his entire family. The case becomes complicated because the officer and the professor had begun a friendship well before the murders. Now the entire town believes the professor has committed a horrible crime, and the officer will need to fight his own suspicions if he wants to prove his friend’s innocence. Author Randall Silvis tackles the thriller genre with strong literary overtones in the mostly successful novel Two Days Gone.
Sergeant Ryan DeMarco spends his days fighting crime and his nights fighting his inner demons. An accident years earlier left him with a broken family, and even though it’s been more than a decade he still struggles to make it through each block of 24 hours. Still, he knows his job requires him to remain alert and vigilant, especially when he receives word of a terrible crime.
Thomas Huston, bestselling author and an English professor at the local university, has gone missing at the worst possible time: his wife and three young children were discovered brutally murdered in their beds, and no one has seen Thomas since. DeMarco asks for permission to lead the case, citing the challenge, but even DeMarco’s supervising officer knows it’s the sergeant’s budding friendship with Thomas that drove him to ask for the lead.
DeMarco first met Thomas when the author contacted him about questions for a new book. The two shared a rapport and DeMarco begins to appreciate the presence of a new friend. Life was so much lonelier without one.
When the call comes, then, that Thomas has fled the area after the murders, DeMarco decides to trust his gut that Thomas didn’t kill his family. His faith in Thomas wavers at times but never breaks, and it allows him to start seeing patterns and finding leads no one else can. What he discovers is that a writer’s passion can often conflict with real life in the worst of ways, and Thomas may have allowed his drive to create his next bestseller override common sense.
Author Randall Silvis goes deep into the thriller genre with a decidedly literary slant and succeeds for the most part. Readers get the opportunity to explore the natural landscape of the small Pennsylvania town through Silvis’s description. Many thrillers skim over the weather and the topography of a book’s setting. Silvis offers his readers the chance to see the book’s setting, contributing to the tone, mood, and pace of the book.
The literary approach works in many places but only to a degree. Readers experience the story both from DeMarco’s point of view as well as Thomas’s perspective. Because Thomas is on the run at some point his observations begin to drag, especially due to the unanswered question of whether he did in fact kill his family. Not providing all of the answers right away leaves Thomas’s thoughts circling around the same feelings and ideas. After hearing about his pain and grief for the fourth or fifth time, readers may find themselves getting restless.
Fortunately Silvis takes the story away from Thomas about halfway through and lets DeMarco lead both the case and the book. While readers may feel a dearth of information after having spent so much time with Thomas throughout the beginning portions, it’s also almost a relief not to have to listen to his considerations that can border on the maniacal.
Less satisfying is the entire premise of the book. Thomas helps a minor character with a deeply personal decision, putting in motion most of the events in the story. The explanation for how he got in touch with that character and decided to help her doesn’t quite ring true to real life. That lack of realism also comes across during an attack on DeMarco. When the police sergeant asks repeatedly why another character would want to come after him, readers will most likely wonder the same thing and feel themselves pulled out of the story.
The book definitely hits all the checkmarks for a murder mystery, however. It’s mostly an enjoyable read. For those who want a thriller with a more literary approach, I recommend readers Borrow Two Days Gone.