Oklahoma City in 1986 might seem like forever ago to some, but for the characters of Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone, that period of time is forever burned in sharp memories. Wyatt Rivers, a private investigator from Las Vegas, is brought back to Oklahoma City on a job to discover who is harassing a local club owner and finds that in the process, he must face his own harassing memories of a time long ago. For the beautiful nurse Julianna, there was never an escape from the city and as a result, she has never been able to escape from the recollections and wonderings of her beautiful older sister Genevieve’s disappearance from a local fair all those years ago.
Wyatt was a young man working at a movie theater in 1986, the only survivor of a robbery that claimed the lives of five of his coworkers and friends. He can’t shake his survivor’s remorse, paired with the unanswered question of why he was spared, and all of his past comes flooding back to him as he finds himself tangled up in his Oklahoma City past. For Julianna, there are more questions than answers regarding her sister’s disappearance at the fair and she soon finds that she will face no limit too great, in trying to get to the bottom of what really happened to her sister that day. When the main suspect in the case, a seedy carnival worker named Crowley, comes back into the picture, Julianna finds herself thrown into a new level of obsession regarding her sister’s case.
Wyatt and Julianna do cross paths, but the novel is woven through with both stories, flush with memories, action, painful memories of fear and piled high with questions that no one can answer. The Long and Faraway Gone mixes the young versions of Wyatt and Julianna with their older selves and lets the past bleed into the present beautifully. Events often do shape lives and for these two characters, their pasts are very much a part of not only their presents but also are responsible for the way they view and live their lives.
Each chapter of the story is broken into character sections and while there is an urgency at times to reach the next unfolding of a particular plot within the text, there is no disconnect or lags in the novel as it switches perspectives. Author Lou Berney does an excellent job of breathing life into his characters and their pain, wonder, confusion and stress all come forth in engaging ways. The book acts as a reminder that relationships and the hardships people all face, past and present, all somehow end up connected and remain part of life no matter how much time has passed. Berney crafts a soulful story that connects all dots, but shows that sometimes even with answers, voids may still remain.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.wordpress.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins Publishers. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.