Although it isn't clear from this blog yet, I don't read a lot of thrillers. I have a rather low tolerance for "are you KIDDING me?" in books that claim to take place in our world. If I do read a thriller, odds are good that it's a legal thriller, because in those the protagonists are usually lawyers or reporters or people who have a reason to be investigating a crime, rather than just Joe Everyman who for some bizarre reason stumbles into the middle of a human trafficking ring.
So when I say that I liked Never Come Back quite a lot, it's high praise. On to the plot. Elizabeth has enough to deal with in the wake of her mother's death, between trying not to fall hopelessly behind in grad. school and planning for the future of her brother with Downs Syndrome. Then the police tell her that her mother was murdered, and her brother is the prime suspect. Further complicating things, Elizabeth discovers that she, and not her uncle as she previously believed, has been named her brother's guardian in her mother's will, and a stranger is receiving a third of the estate.
This thriller works for me because the intrigue is built largely around family secrets, on a greater scale than most of us will ever encounter but still something that feels grounded and possible. There were only a few things that made me go "...what?" One is a rather big thing near the end, a development that felt tacked on in order to have an extra unsuspected twist rather than developing as part of the story. The others:
1. A woman described as a volunteer at the library who appears to have responsibilities and powers (such as the capability to create some unspecified kind of fund?) far beyond what volunteers would be able to do.
2. Elizabeth asking for favors from a student whose work she grades without any acknowledgement of the inappropriateness of that arrangement.
3. Apparently DNA tests are not a thing.
For a thriller, I consider that a fairly small number of failures of suspension of disbelief. If I'm this happy, then people who routinely have less trouble with the genre should be overjoyed.
Final Grade: A-