5 stars out of 5
Relating to this book was easy for a number of reasons. The biggest one is that much of the action takes place in parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio about a 45-minute drive north of our northeastern Ohio home. That alone - seeing names of cities, small towns and places in between that we've visited too many times to count - got my attention. The job of keeping it, though, falls directly into the hands of the author - and what a great job he did!
That said, it not a book to be skimmed; the writing is brilliant, but close to what I'd call ponderous. Some of that, no doubt is because one of the two central characters, Tom Huston, is a bestselling author and college professor and the other, Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. Ryan DeMarco, is a well-read guy who in many ways doesn't fit the description of standard-issue cop. The two men have met and like each other, but circumstances here cause one to become a hunter and the other the hunted.
The story begins with the brutal murder of Huston's wife and three children in their home. When Huston goes missing, the assumption is that the mild-mannered, popular writer-educator who was working hard on a new book with a lead character loosely based on Vladimir Nabokov's Lolilta and Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee," somehow snapped. DeMarco doesn't quite see Huston's killer potential, although he wonders why the man has run away. But whether Huston is guilty or innocent, it's now DeMarco's job to find him and bring him in.
As the search progresses, DeMarco travels in and out of many places familiar to me like Erie and Linesville Pa., and Conneaut and Pierpont, Ohio. At one point, I was surprised to see a reference to the 1985 tornado that destroyed much of Albion, Pa., but - as I can personally attest - not before it wreaked serious havoc in and around my town of Niles, Ohio.
It is character development, though, that takes center stage; little by little, we see into the hearts and minds of various characters - Huston and DeMarco in particular. DeMarco, for instance, is no stranger to tragedy; a traffic accident a few years earlier resulted in the death of his young son and, ultimately, the loss of his much-loved wife. His understanding of anguish, in fact, is one of the reasons he not only doesn't accept Huston's guilt and ultimately is willing to put his own career on the line to get to the truth.
It's rare that I give much credence to official book descriptions issued by publishers, but in this case, their word "masterful" is right on target. Kudos to the author, and many thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read the book in exchange for an honest review.
Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis (Sourcebooks Landmark, January 2017); 400 pp.