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Take Your Breath Away


Take Your Breath Away

When I read Linwood Barclay’s NO TIME FOR GOODBYE in 2007, I was literally left speechless. Not only was it the first book I had read by this fairly new Canadian author, it featured one of the most powerful twists I had ever come across. His latest novel, TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY, gave me that same exhilarated feeling that readers get when they experience the thrill of an incredible read. It tops everything that Barclay has written up to this point, including the book that initially drew me to him.

Brie Mason is home alone, with the exception of the creepy exterminator who is placing mouse traps around the house. Her husband, Andy, is away on a fishing trip with his best friend and business partner, Greg. The last thing she will see is not a mouse but something so terrifying that she will not even have time to scream. She vanishes without a trace.

"Linwood Barclay has plenty of surprises up his sleeve that will have your head spinning.... As the title states, prepare to have your breath taken away!"

Six years later, a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Brie stops in front of what she is convinced is her house and gets into a heated argument with a few of the neighbors. When one of them asks if her name is Brie, she hops into her car and speeds off. If you have chills running down your spine, join the club. And this is only the second chapter!

Andy has since changed his last name to Carville in an attempt to move on. He was cleared of any wrongdoing in Brie’s disappearance, but that did not take the stigma off of him wherever he went. Brie’s family never believed him, even though he wasn’t home when she disappeared. His business with Greg eventually dissolved; they were building contractors, and no one wanted to be associated with them as a result of what happened. Andy is now working on his own and living with his girlfriend, Jayne Keeling, and her teenage brother, Tyler, who has his own troubles. At this point in the story, Jayne is not yet aware of Andy’s past.

When Andy’s former neighbor, Max, calls him to report the incident with the strange woman who showed up outside of where his old house used to be --- it has since been torn down and rebuilt --- it reopens old wounds and makes it difficult for him to hide things from Jayne. It also brings another figure from his past back into the picture: Detective Marissa Hardy, who handled Brie’s case and made Andy’s life a living hell. Hardy messes up his life again when she pops up at his new home when he isn’t there and meets Jayne. Presuming that Jayne knows the entire backstory, she spills the beans on Andy’s old identity.

Meanwhile, Brie’s mother is in the hospital with only days to live from a terminal cancer diagnosis. Brie’s sister, Izzy, still despises Andy and wants him behind bars as she is confident that he murdered Brie. So it’s ironic that the entire family begins to swear that they have seen someone who looks like Brie around the hospital --- in the parking lot, in the hallways, even waving up at their window while they’re visiting on one of the last nights before their matriarch passes away. Andy is made aware of this and does not know what to believe.

Linwood Barclay has plenty of surprises up his sleeve that will have your head spinning as your desire to find out the truth about what actually happened six years ago becomes so strong that it is impossible for the present circumstances to hide the answers any longer. This is a brilliantly crafted novel that at times made me feel like I was in the middle of a Robert Goddard story (for those who may not know, Goddard is a UK writer famous for his twisty, almost unbelievable plots). It is simply that good. As the title states, prepare to have your breath taken away!

Reviewed by Ray Palen on May 20, 2022

Take Your Breath Away
by Linwood Barclay