Book Review: And Then She Was Gone by J. Daniel Sawyer

Title: And Then She Was Gone
Author: J. Daniel Sawyer
Genre: Crime/Detective Noir
Formats Available: ebook and dead tree
Buy it: Amazon, Smashwords, B&N

You know what why Christmas vacation was my favorite time of year as a kid? It finally gave me the time to read. I grew up in the cold and snow and quite often December was not the time of year you wanted to go outside and play. That was okay with me because I’ve always been a reader. In fact, a good portion of my Christmas wish list was always books.

Well, it’s December, and even though I’m now an adult I still look forward to carving out some time with a good book over the Christmas holiday. (I hope that becomes a reality.)

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to read J. Daniel Sawyer’s And Then She Was Gone. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Sawyer’s work for quite a while now, but this was the first opportunity I had to “read” anything by him. And, to be honest, this one really surprised me. Why? Well, on to the review.

Mr. Sawyer is probably most well known for writing speculative fiction. Science fiction seems to be the background setting of most of his stories (and yes, to me SF CAN be a background) and And Then She Was Gone is not science fiction. What it is, is a crime novel. And one of the first in a set (and may I pleased be excused while I jump up and down in a highly unprofessional manner).

And Then She Was Gone introduces us to Clarke Latham. Clarke, as we find out through his own words and actions is a hardboiled private eye in the classical sense, although the story takes place in the present. If you’ve read many of my reviews, you know I don’t care for 1st person narrative. The only consistent exception to the rule is detective fiction. ¬†For one reason or another detective fiction needs to be done in the first person. It only feels right. And Dan does it right. Slipping into Clarke’s shoes, even though he’s a new character, feels as comfortable as slipping into your favorite shoes. And my mental picture of Clarke strangely coincides with those shoes. Clarke is a man that is very good at what he does, but he’s a bit rough around the edges, and is showing more than a bit of wear.

Different era, different circumstances, but Clarke strongly evokes Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe to me. Which is definitely a good thing. You see, I grew up watching Bogart bringing these characters to life and later found them in the printed word to be even better. I’ve missed these types of characters in modern fiction and was happy that Clarke so comfortably slipped into that world.

The story itself moves along at a good clip and is definitely a read for the adults in the family (well come on, it is Dan Sawyer after all). The surrounding cast is disposable as any good crime novel most be because any and all of them could be the next victim at any minute.

One of the things I liked best about And Then She Was Gone was the attention to detail and realism. Mr. Sawyer obviously knows a thing or two about firearms (Actually, I know he does. Author’s should be on the lookout for his guide to firearms. It is very informative and yet easy to read.) and it is obvious that he did his research in many other areas as well.

It is hard to discuss a book of this type without providing spoilers, which I will not do. However, I highly recommend And Then She Was Gone for anyone with a device capable of displaying it. It would also make a great gift and is incredibly priced.

I will definitely be picking up a dead tree version when it is released and can hardly wait for the Clarke Latham Christmas story that will be released soon.

If you like detective fiction and can appreciate a character that is unapologetically good at what he does and is going to do things his way, you really won’t be disappointed with And Then She Was Gone.

Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to be a beta reader for And Then She Was Gone and was honored when Mr. Sawyer asked if I would be willing. If you’re ever lucky enough to be asked to beta read, say yes. It is an experience that everyone should have been allowed at one point or another. I have purchased the electronic copy and I can honestly say it only got better with the edit (imagine that). Mr. Sawyer did not ask for this review, though he did know it was coming (I’m really not very good with secrets).

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