The first time I read "And Then She Was Gone," I had no clue what to expect. A friend of mine was kind enough to loan me a copy for me to try (using 'loaned' loosely in the age of digital copy-paste), and off I was. I've long held a soft spot for detective noir, both the traditional fare made famous by Humphry and Bacall and the pastishe re-invention that Blade Runner made famous.
So when I discovered that Clark Lantham was very much in the same vein, I settled in for a very familiar guilty pleasure -- jaded ex-cop, too good at his job, too dedicated to the case, and far too experienced to allow himself the luxury of taking things at face value.
However, that isn't where the story ended. As other reviers have said, Clark Lantham brings his own collection of tricks, tools, insights, and hang-ups to the mix. He definitely borrows from the spirit of the old gumshoes of old, but the arsenel he brings to bear is something out of a mash-up of Q from James Bond and MacGuyver. Cell Phones that double as GPS units, scripts that exploit security holes in facebook, and a catelogue of favors owed to him from specialists and experts make him prepared to handle almost anything thrown at him.
This isn't a book stuck on its own technology fetish, however. Like other Dan Sawyer novels, it's a character driven story. The tools and implements facilitate those characters, and each one bears Clarke's signature. In addition to that, Clark is a chance for Dan's keen insight into human behavior to shine in full sardonic glory. Nothing is sacred, nothing is pure, and everyone has a knife with your name on it.
But this too-jaded attitude does not stop Clark from becoming overly involved in the latest case he's handed. Nor does it stop him from pursuing the case, long after his better judgement has given up telling him to stop.
I was very pleased with the novel, the story it told, and the characters it portrayed. My only complaints are two-fold:
One, it went by very quickly. No, scratch that. It FLEW by. It's very fast-paced, and doesn't let up for an instant. Especially for as cerebral, reflective, and analytical as Dan Sawyer's novels get, this one does not let up. It grabs you by the naughty bits and does not let go until the last page. If you're looking for a book to nurse and savor a few pages at a time before bed, this book will make that a difficult endeavor. Expect to be up until 3 or 4 AM until you finish the novel. :)
Two, because my loaner-friend didn't let me in on much before reading it, I walked in assuming this was a completely self-contained one-off novel. It's not -- Dan Sawyer has many more Clarke Lantham stories planned, which is not what the break-neck pacing of the book lead me to believe. The story is very much self-contained and satisfying, but it's act one of a larger narrative.
The good news behind this, of course... is that the best is yet to come. :)