Here and Gone

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

About the Book

Audra has finally left her abusive husband. She’s taken the family car and her young children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. This is their chance for a fresh start.

Audra keeps to the country roads to avoid attention. She’s looking for a safe place to stay for the night when she spots something in her rear-view mirror. A police car is following her and the lights are flickering. Blue and red.

As Audra pulls over she is intensely aware of how isolated they are. Her perfect escape is about to turn into a nightmare beyond her imagining…

Dark secrets and a heart-pounding race to reveal the truth lie at the heart of this page-turning thriller. Full of dark secrets and heart-pounding twists, Here and Gone is the ultimate page-turner.

About the Author

Haylen Beck is the pen name of internationally prize-winning crime writer Stuart Neville. Writing under his own name, Stuart won the LA Times Book Prize for his debut novel and received critical acclaim for his Belfast-set detective series starring Serena Flanagan. His Haylen Beck novels are set in the US and are inspired by his love of American crime writing.

For my children.


Haylen Beck


THE ROAD SWAYED left then right, the rhythm of it making Audra Kinney’s eyelids grow heavier as each mile marker passed. She had given up counting them; it only made the journey slower. Her knuckles complained as she flexed her fingers on the wheel, palms greasy with sweat.

Thank God she’d had the eight-year-old station wagon’s AC serviced earlier in the year. New York summers might be hot, but not like this. Not like Arizona-hot. It’s a dry heat, people said. Yeah, dry like the face of the sun, she thought. Even at five-thirty in the evening, even as the vents blew air cold enough to make goose pimples on her forearms, if she put her fingers to the window, her hand would recoil as if from a boiling kettle.

‘Mom, I’m hungry,’ Sean said from the backseat. That mewling voice that said he was tired and grumpy and liable to get difficult. Louise dozed beside him in her booster chair, her mouth open, blonde sweat-damp hair stuck to her forehead. She held Gogo in her lap, the ragged remains of the stuffed bunny she’d had since she was a baby.

Sean was a good boy. Everyone who knew him said so. But it had never been so clear as these last few days. So much had been asked of him, and he had endured. She looked at him in the mirror. His father’s sharp features and fair hair, but his mother’s long limbs. They had lengthened in recent months, reminding her that her son, now almost eleven, was approaching puberty. He had complained little since they left New York, considering, and he had been a help with his little sister. If not for him, Audra might have lost her sanity out here.

Lost her sanity?

There was nothing sane about this.

‘There’s a town a few miles up ahead,’ Audra said. ‘We can get something to eat. Maybe they’ll have a place we can stay.’

‘I hope they do,’ Sean said. ‘I don’t want to sleep in the car again.’

‘Me neither.’

As if on cue, that pain between her shoulder blades, like the muscles back there coming unstitched. Like she was coming apart, and the stuffing would soon billow out of her seams.

‘How you doing for water back there?’ she asked, looking at him in the rearview mirror. She saw him glance down, heard water slosh in a plastic bottle.

‘I got a little left. Louise drank hers already.’

‘All right. We’ll get some more when we stop.’

Sean returned his attention to the world passing his window. Rocky hills covered in scrub sloping away from the road, cacti standing sentry, arms reaching skyward like surrendering soldiers. Above them, a sheet of deep blue, faint smears of white, a yellowing as the sun travelled west to the horizon. Beautiful country, in its way. Audra would have drunk it in, savored the landscape, had things been different.

If she hadn’t had to run.

But she didn’t really have to run, not truly. She could have waited to let events take their course, but the waiting had been torture, the seconds upon minutes upon hours of just not knowing. So she had packed everything and run. Like a coward, Patrick would say. He’d always said she was weak. Even if he said he loved her with his next breath.

Audra remembered a moment, in their bed, her husband’s chest against her back, his hand cupping her breast. Patrick saying he loved her. In spite of everything, he loved her. As if she didn’t deserve his love, not a woman like her. His tongue always the gentle blade with which to stab at her, so gentle she wouldn’t know she’d been cut until long after, when she would lie awake with his words still rolling in her mind. Rolling like stones in a glass jar, rattling like— ‘Mom!’

Her head jerked up and she saw the truck coming at them, lights flashing. She pulled the wheel to the right, back onto her own side of the road, and the truck passed, the driver giving her a dirty look. Audra shook her head, blinked away the grimy dryness from her eyes, breathed in hard through her nose.

Not that close. But still too close. She cursed under her breath.

‘You all right?’ she asked.

‘Yeah,’ Sean said, his voice coming from deep in his throat, the way it did when he didn’t want her to know he was scared. ‘Maybe we should pull over soon.’

Haylen Beck's Books