Locally penned The Long and Faraway Gone is a captivating crime novel

The Long and Faraway Gone: A Novel
Author: Lou Berney
(William Morrow and Company)

Lou Berney’s newest book, The Long and Faraway Gone, will be in stores this Tuesday, Feb. 10. It takes place in Oklahoma City and follows two characters whose lives are consumed by past crimes.

Twenty-five years after two unsolved mysteries rock Oklahoma City, the survivors still feel the effects. Wyatt is the lone survivor of a movie theater massacre who now works as a private investigator in Las Vegas. He returns to Oklahoma City to work a case as a favor, and uses his investigation skills to try to understand why he survived in the theater when others died. Julianna is the younger sister of Genevieve, a girl who went missing from the State Fair. And though she is told that searching for her lost sister won’t help, she will not give up hope.

As Wyatt continues to work his case, he is compelled to chip away at the mystery that has haunted him since he was 15 years old. And when Julianna discovers the prime suspect in her sister’s disappearance as suddenly reemerged after years of living under the radar, she knows she must get the answers she is seeking, even if it means doing it herself.

Berney has a way of making dual plotlines dovetail perfectly, interweaving elements of different stories to keep the plot tight. Fans of books by writers like Dennis Lehane and Gillian Flynn will appreciate the intertwining storylines, as well as the tone and Berney’s style.

Berney writes about Oklahoma City not only as someone who has been there, but as someone who understands it. The landmarks have personality. The characters seem to mimic a little too closely the very characters that us locals know all too well. Everything from the sites to the sounds to the smells are cataloged in great detail, making the setting not only realistic, but almost like an actual player in the story. Oklahoma City natives will appreciate the level of detail and references to local people and places. However, this book is still accessible to a national audience.

Berney has previously written two novels, Gutshot Straight and the Edgar-nominated Whiplash River. Readers of his work are familiar with his clearly envisioned characters, his character-driven plotlines, and fantastic (and humorous) dialog. Berney brings all these elements into The Long and Faraway Gone as only he can, balancing the emotional poignancy of the characters’ backstories with his own personal brand of humor. And in his latest effort, Berney shows the impact and implications of violent crime on survivors, and just how far those survivors will go in order to understand the events that occurred in their pasts.

A book-launch and signing for The Long and Faraway Gone will be held from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Full Circle Bookstore.