Tim Weaver is a huge deal in the UK, and he made his US debut last week with NEVER COMING BACK. Enjoy his guest post about his hero, David Raker and his journey so far, and be sure to snag a copy of the book, while you’re at it!
NEVER COMING BACK is my debut here in the States, but it’s actually the fourth book in a series. All four are centred around a missing persons investigator called David Raker. He’s an ex-journalist who stumbled into paid detective work almost by accident after his wife lost a long battle with breast cancer. The first in the series, CHASING THE DEAD, opens in December 2010, a year after the death of Raker’s wife, where we find him raw, emotional, battered. From there, the series has seen him gradually – very gradually – coming to terms with her loss, through 2011’s THE DEAD TRACKS and 2012’s VANISHED, until, in NEVER COMING BACK, we find him having traded in London, where he’s spent most of his life, for a small cottage in an English fishing village. Here, he’s recovering from another, major life-changing event, which NEVER COMING BACK fills in for people new to the series. As with all the books, they can be read as standalones.
Despite the loss Raker’s suffered, what we discover about him is he has a real aptitude for the work; a natural gift for investigation, and – because of how deeply he felt for his wife – an ability to understand people; to read them, to bring them onside if he thinks they can help him, or cut through to the truth if he thinks he’s being lied to. He’s a big, confident, intelligent hero, but (my hope, at least) is that he’s one with a strong emotional centre. Certainly, as the series goes on, Raker starts to develop a deeper connection to the missing, believing that he has some unwritten responsibility to them. Much of that is borne out of the way he felt for his wife, and the difficulty in accepting her passing, and letting go.
The books share similar themes, or the continuation of themes, but if you were to boil it down to its central hook, it would probably be: how is the impossible possible? In a sense, all the Raker books are spins on a ‘locked room’ mystery. In CHASING THE DEAD, he’s investigating the apparent reappearance of a man who died in a car crash; in THE DEAD TRACKS, he’s trying to find a girl who disappeared inside school grounds while walking between lessons; in VANISHED, he’s trying to find a man who – as the title suggests – gets onto a Tube train and never gets off again; and in NEVER COMING BACK, he’s looking into how a family can disappear from their house – the dinner table laid, the food still cooking, the dog wandering from room to room – and never return.
My main hope with my books is always the same: that, at the end of every Raker novel, the reader takes something away from it, something that resonates with them, compels them to discuss it with others, and, at some point, persuades them to come back. I hope they find something in Raker they can identify with, and can also see how he’s changing over time. Certainly, from my point of view, he’s changed beyond anything I ever had written down for him. I thought, as an unpublished writer starting out, that doing a series would help anchor things; that coming back to a central character and supporting cast I was familiar with would take some of the pressure off when it came to world-building and plot. After all, how radically can a single set of characters change?
The answer, of course, was massively. Even by the time I’d finished THE DEAD TRACKS, Raker had developed in big, interesting ways that I could never have imagined and certainly never addressed within the scope of a single book – and, of course, he continues to do so, even as I get ready for the publication of my fifth book, here in the UK.
About Tim Weaver:
Tim Weaver is the bestselling author of the David Raker missing persons series. His fourth novel, Never Coming Back, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, and his work has been nominated for a National Book Award. A former journalist and magazine editor, he lives near Bath with his wife and daughter. Find out more about Tim and his writing at www.timweaverbooks.com.
About NEVER COMING BACK:
Emily Kane arrives at her sister Carrie’s house to find the front door unlocked, dinner on the table, and the family nowhere to be found—Carrie, her husband, and two daughters have disappeared. When the police turn up no leads, Emily turns to her former boyfriend David Raker, a missing persons investigator, to track the family down. As Raker pursues the case, he discovers evidence of a sinister cover-up, decades in the making and with a long trail of bodies behind it.
Tim Weaver’s thrillers have been hugely popular in the UK, and now Never Coming Back will introduce his beloved character David Raker to American audiences. Set in Las Vegas and a small fishing village in England, the novel is a smart, fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing until the very end.