Never Look Away is the eighth novel by Canadian author Linwood Barclay. It was published in 2010 by Hachette Group.
It starts with a trip to a local amusement park. David Harwood is hoping a carefree day at Five Mountains will help dispel his wife Jan's recent depression, black moods that have led to frightening thoughts of suicide. Instead, a day of fun with their four-year-old son Ethan turns into a nightmare. When Jan disappears from the park, David's worst fears seem to have come true. But when he goes to the police to report her missing, terrified that she's planning to take her own life, the facts start to indicate something very different. The park's records show that only two tickets were purchased, David and Ethan's, and CCTV shows no evidence that Jan ever entered the park at all. Suddenly David's story starts to look suspicious - suspicious enough for the police to wonder if she's already dead, murdered by her husband.
To prove his innocence and keep his son from being taken away from him, David digs deep into the past and comes face to face with a terrible childhood tragedy. After finding her birth certificate he visits her estranged parents, Horace and Gretchen Richler, who tell David that their daughter Jan was killed as a five year old in a tragic car accident. Jan's story is slowly revealed as the narratives switch between her and David's perspective. It is revealed that Jan was the false identity taken by Constance Harwood, who was accidentally responsible for the death of the real Jan. After Jan's death, she moved away and left her family who blamed her, getting involved in crime with Dwayne Osterhaus. However when Dwayne got a six-year jail sentence she went into hiding to keep away from the many victims and enemies she has gained over the years. Her marriage to David was intended to keep her identity hidden from Oscar Fine, whose hand she cut off in a diamond heist several years earlier.
However, Oscar sees her face on the news and tracks down Jan and Dwayne, killing Dwayne. Jan realises that Ethan's life could be in danger and travels back to Promise Falls, her and David's hometown. While this is happening, David is shaping up as the lead suspect and is being threatened by Elmost Sebastian, the head of a for-profit prison company who David was determined to defame in the newspaper. When Ethan goes missing, David presumes Sebastian responsible. But Oscar returns to the Harwood household at the same time as Jan and David finally understands the truth behind his wife, realising how little he knew. Jan is shot and David is nearly killed too but in her dying moments Jan kills Oscar. David is called by Gretchen Richler, who explains that after realising Jan was actually Constance, kidnapped Ethan in revenge but realised the error of her ways. David and Ethan are reunited.
About the Author
Linwood Barclay is a Canadian humourist, author and former columnist. He has published books of autobiography and both humorous and dramatic detective fiction, and he formerly wrote the thrice-weekly humour column in the Toronto Star, as well as releasing a podcast with his articles. He recently took a one year sabbatical to promote his mystery novels. He planned to return to the Star in September 2008 but on June 28, 2008 he wrote his last column announcing his retirement from the Star.
Barclay lives in Burlington, Ontario with his wife and son.