Accomplished Irish authors Karen Gillece (The Absent Wife, 2008, etc.) and Paul Perry (Paranormal, 2012, etc.), writing as Karen Perry, collaborate on a dark mystery about unimaginable loss and irrevocable choices.
It’s difficult at first to sympathize with Harry, an artist who’s spent the past five years mourning the disappearance and presumed death of his son in an earthquake in Tangier. Leaving 3-year-old Dillon alone in the apartment in a drug-induced sleep in order to retrieve a gift for his wife, Robin, Harry returns minutes after the entire building vanishes, apparently along with his son. Years of recrimination, mental imbalance and uncontrollable grief have plagued Harry since their return to Ireland, where he develops a reputation as an established artist, cloaks himself in a haze of alcohol and meaningless affairs, and explores otherworldly beliefs in search of answers. Robin, unable to continue her art, becomes an architect and tries to help both of them heal. Now, it seems their lives are moving on: The couple is living in Robin’s grandmother’s drafty, old home, which Robin plans to renovate, and Harry has agreed to move his studio there as a cost-saving effort. Robin also discovers she’s pregnant again and hopes the birth of their child will signify a fresh beginning. But Harry’s reaction seems forced. At first reluctant to share his news with Robin, Harry believes he’s sighted Dillon, now older, on a crowded street in Dublin. His quest to track down the young boy—lying to Robin about a trip to London, trying to obtain answers from an ill friend from Tangier, watching hours of surveillance videos—consumes him, and he finally confesses his obsession to Robin, who’s horrified. As the initial slow-moving explorations of characters, relationships and events gain momentum and move toward a well-constructed conclusion, the co-authors create an atmosphere that’s both murky and disturbing.
More introspective than action-oriented, Perry delivers an intriguingly emotional and unconventional debut.