In a novel that segues from a small fishing village in rural Devon, England, to Las Vegas, Nevada, from 2007 to 2012, Weaver constructs a thriller of death and destruction, a missing family at the heart of an investigation that reveals a cunning plot for secrecy. Whether by coincidence or a subtle twist of fate, serendipity or a callous disregard for life, there is no explanation for the disappearance of an entire family of four from their home in Devon. The Lings—Paul, Carrie, Belle and Liv—have simply vanished from their own lives.
David Raker, a journalist who has devoted himself to finding lost and missing persons, is contacted by former high school girlfriend Emily Kane. It is her sister’s family, the Lings, all she has left in the world, who have vanished. Despite a comprehensive investigation, the authorities have been unable to discover what happened to the Lings. The case remains open but stalled for lack of any evidence to move it forward or find some resolution.
Still grieving the death of his beloved wife, Derryn, who died prematurely from cancer, and vainly attempting to keep ex-Metro cop friend Colm Healy from self-destructing since his firing from the force, Raker agrees to help Emily Kane. The beginning of his investigation is complicated by the recent discovery of an unidentified dead body in a sea cave nearby found by a fisherman’s son. While Healy wants desperately to involve himself in the case of the dead body, David is irritated by the distraction, anxious to learn what he can about the missing Lings, including an interview with the detectives assigned. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the same lead detective, Detective Chief Inspector Colin Rocastle, is involved with both the disappearance and the newly discovered body and has his own priorities.
Moving between Devon and Las Vegas, in flashbacks to 2007 and contemporary 2012, the author weaves a tight-knit tapestry of wealthy men with secrets to hide and a lifestyle enjoyed only by those at a certain economic level and the seeming lack of connection with a family’s disappearance thousands of miles away. Raker recalls an incident in Las Vegas in 2007 when he was on journalistic assignment, an unexpected meeting with a colleague from Devon that left him baffled at the time, later caught up in Derryn’s failing health. Later, in 2012 Devon, he has reason to recall that incident and its ramifications on the bizarre case he is attempting to untangle for Emily Kane.
In reality, there is no evidence to support how or why the family simply vanished one day, nothing obvious or troubling in their past or present to indicate any underlying problems. David’s nearly impossible task is to recreate the family’s last days, to inhabit their lives in the most minute detail until that one elusive thread, a clue, leads him to the next phase of his search. The effort is physically and emotionally exhausting and time-consuming as Raker builds a picture of this family in relation to the rest of the world, their utter innocence in the face of their own destruction. These four people deserve to be found, to have someone answer for the interruption of their lives. Raker’s passion for the truth, his need to find the missing, pushes him beyond endurance, unwilling and unable to stop regardless of the danger or the ugliness of the truth he uncovers.
Beautifully constructed, rich with the atmosphere of the wild Devon countryside, rife with history, hardship and tragedy to the hustling, excess-charged ambiance of Las Vegas, an island of luxury and glamour in the midst of a vast and silent desert, environment carries the weight of characters as surely as the varied cases. The tentacles of power and corruption reach across continents to infiltrate, brutalize and intimidate, leaving Raker stunned by the force of his opposition, a man determined to annihilate any threat to his power. Multi-layered, dense with historical import and thrilling to the last surprising twist, Never Coming Back is and dark and provocative tale, lingering long after the last page.