The Long and Faraway Gone, by Lou Berney, is one of the best and most memorable crime novels I’ve read, and so well written that I hated to put it down. It tells the story of two traumatic events in Oklahoma City back in the summer of 1986, and the aftermath for two broken people. Ever since his six co-workers at a movie theater were shot during an armed robbery, Wyatt has wondered why he was left alive. The loss of his closest friends has left him outwardly genial and successful as a private investigator in Las Vegas, but remote and incapable of real happiness. When he has to return to Oklahoma City for a case, the memories of that summer overwhelm him and lead him to try to untangle the past. When Juliana’s gorgeous older sister disappeared from the state fair, never to be seen again, Juliana was angry and devastated. When the main suspect in the disappearance comes back to town, she plays an increasingly risky game with him, trying to find out what he knows. The emotional scars these two characters have suffered has led them to very different ways of life; Wyatt has erased his past, changed his name, and tried to bury his memories completely, while Juliana relives the scene at the fair endlessly, searching for the solution, and imagining her sister as an adult. Sorrow and guilt consume them both, but The Long and Faraway Gone is not a glum or heavy read. Humor lightens the tension at times, but at the core, the novel is about how we are changed forever by traumatic loss, and how we can recover.
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