John Rector doesn’t fuck around in Already Gone. The novel opens with Jake Reese, college professor and author, being assaulted outside of a restaurant, the attackers taking his wedding ring. The thing is, they take the ring finger with it. It’s an intense, no-bullshit scene that sets the tone for a very intense, blessedly no-bullshit thriller. John Rector does not fuck around, but as a fan of his two previous novels, The Grove and The Cold Kiss, the Nerd knew that shit already.
What I wasn’t prepared for though was how beautifully he handles a big-budget (so to speak), large cast thriller with a capital fucking “T.” The Grove and The Cold Kiss have plenty of twists and turns, but were smaller in scope, the action in the former taking place mainly on a farm and a snowbound motel in the latter. With Already Gone, dude has Jake Reese getting into all kinds of scrapes with numerous different characters in various locales and also working with a much more complicated plot, yet the novel is just as quick and exciting a read as his previous works were.
But you’re thinking, dear reader, “Nerd, I get it, you like this shit, but what’s it about?” Well no worries, you impatient son of a bitch, enlightenment has arrived!
So Jake loses a finger and at first assumes he was just mugged. Brutally mugged, obviously, but mugged all the same. When he gets his finger back in the mail, Jake’s fears have been realized: his dark past as a teenage thug has come back to haunt him. He doesn’t know who specifically is behind it, unfortunately, but he figures something from his past must be the culprit. Then his new bride goes missing and Jake has to slap his inner badass awake toot-fucking-sweet.
From there you’re getting no sleep, dear reader, because Rector knows how to keep the tension high and make the questions poke your mind with a hot poker – you just gotta know what’s going on and who is behind it something fucking fierce. With his spare prose and, say it with me, no-bullshit approach to storytelling, those questions are answered seemingly faster than anywhere else in the thriller market, and that is a rare, wonderful thing indeed.
But though that considerable craft alone would make the Nerd urge you to rush out and pick up Already Gone, what really makes the book work is the humanity at the core of it. Though there’s a bunch of brutal kills and action sequences and the like, the novel is really just about trust. I don’t want to get too much into it because I don’t want to spoil any of the many surprises that’ll come your way if you read this beast, but Rector uses the thriller to really explore honesty in a relationship in a very touching and profound way.
I’ve said it since I read The Cold Kiss last year but Already Gone really brings my prediction home: John Rector is gonna be fucking huge. This is a book I would recommend to basement crazy and middle-boiled fan alike, a thriller that never wastes your time (like those insanely fat massmarket paperback pieces of shit you see at the supermarket) or lets you down character-wise. If he keeps it up (and if, you know, audiences wise the fuck up) we’ve got a fucking legend on our hands, a bestselling author who doesn’t make us embarrassed to have his books on our shelves.