The Long and Faraway Gone revolves around two unsolved crimes that occur in the Summer of 1986 in Oklahoma City. In August of 1986 a violent movie theater robbery leaves six employees dead and a lone survivor. Wyatt is now a private investigator in Las Vegas and 25 years removed from the traumatic night that altered the course of his life. Why did Wyatt survive? Our first protagonist battles with that question. When an esteemed client asks him for a favor, Wyatt finds himself back in Oklahoma City. His client Candice is a new small business owner and single mother. Strange forms of vandalism and harassment are plaguing Candice’s bar, the Landing Run. In the midst of this case Wyatt seeks to find the answers to his mystery, of why five of his friends and his boss were killed and he was left to live, 25 years ago.
A few weeks after the massacre that left Wyatt a sole survivor another tragedy strikes Oklahoma City. A 17 year old girl vanishes from the State Fair and clues of her fate are scant and circumstantial, 25 years later the leads are all dry. Julianna was twelve when her older sister Genevieve disappeared. It was September, 1986 when Genevieve told her younger sister “I’ll be back in a flash.” Julianna was left with a crumpled ten dollar bill as the sun began to set. Now a nurse, Julianna relives that night daily and continues the investigation on her own when all others ceased. Genevieve was her hero and her disappearance weighs on her every day. When an old suspect returns, Julianna is certain their secret will lead to her needed answers. As Julianna presses with the cold case, she learns about her own demons and who her sister was and could’ve been. Our two protagonists are on parallel journeys and rarely intersect but equally command the story. The author of this book, Lou Berney crafted an enthralling dual mystery with Wyatt and Julianna.
I highly recommend this book, it is a unique form of crime fiction. A character piece on two victims of tragedy, Berney reveals their stories magnificently. Moments of humor and levity are interwoven seamlessly into a story of immense emotional breadth. Wyatt and Julianna are complex characters that are empathizable and truly human. A book on survivors and their relationship with both guilt and redemption; this literary piece emphasizes the idea that memories shape us. This novel has to be included in any Summer reading list. I am certain many studios will be clamoring to bring this story to the screen. In the right hands this story would make an acclaimed miniseries much like The Leftovers on HBO. You heard that “groundbreaking” scoop here first. Now, a call to action. Pick up this book. Buy this book. Read this book. Be better for it. Until my next suggestion, some might be great, some might surprise you, and others might just inspire you. In the meantime read the Long and Faraway Gone, it’s a 4.5 out of 5 and an essential read.