David Harwood is a journalist for a small paper in upper New York State and is working hard on a story about corrupt local government officials taking bribes to approve the establishment of a privately run prison in the area. On top of this pressure, for several weeks his wife Jan has been exhibiting signs of depression, to the point even of reporting suicidal thoughts to her husband and he is very concerned. In an attempt to lighten the family’s mood the couple take their four year old son Ethan to a local amusement park for the day which is when their lives fall apart.
Never Look Away incorporates a compelling mix of nail-biting tension and normal people behaving credibly despite extraordinary situations. David Harwood is a great character for a thriller, being the sort of person with whom we can all identify. I really liked the fact he didn’t suddenly develop any inexplicable superhuman skills (which tends to happen in thrillers) but stumbled his way through a series of pretty astonishing events in a very believable way. His reaction as he learned that people around him might have lied was particularly credible in the way it showed his willingness to entertain the most bizarre theories rather than the notion he had been deceived. His parents are also wonderfully normal characters and even his wife Jan, though a less orthodox character, has a credibility about her.
I read this book because Maxine at Petrona told me to it and while it didn’t make me miss my bus stop as she suggested that’s only because I walk to work. On two successive mornings I walked an extra long way around to get to my office just to hear a little more. Funnily enough the big plot twists were telegraphed but I didn’t find that detracted from the story terribly much as I was more interested in how the various players would cope with unfolding events than the play-by-play, though the strait narrative was very sold too.
I like thrillers that have an air of normality about them and don’t go too over the top with explosions and other silliness and Never Look Away fits that bill well. At its heart it’s a story of a family where all is not what it seems and plays on the sorts of fears that all of us might face at some time. Top thrills indeed.
What about the audio book?
To be perfectly honest it took me a little while to ‘get into’ Jeffrey Cummings’ narration as he used a wide variety of voices and some of the ones for minor characters were a little odd-sounding. However after the first 20-30 minutes I was totally absorbed and Cummings had made the book whatever the audio equivalent is of a page turner.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
My rating 4/5
Narrator Jeffrey Cummings
Publisher Orion Publishing 
ISBN N/A (downloaded from audible.com)
Length 12 hours 42 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Source I bought it