Category Archives: Never Look Back

Review: Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin

Title: Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length:336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


From the Edgar Award-winning author of If I Die Tonight

Reminiscent of the bestsellers of Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben—with a Serial-esque podcast twist—an absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense from the author of the highly acclaimed and Edgar Award-nominated What Remains of Me and the USA Today bestselling and Shamus Award-winning Brenna Spector series.

For thirteen days in 1976, teenage murderers April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy terrorized Southern California’s Inland Empire, killing a dozen victims before perishing themselves in a fire… or did they? More than 40 years later, twentysomething podcast producer Quentin Garrison blames his troubled upbringing on the murders. And after a shocking message from a source, he has reason to believe April Cooper may still be alive. Meanwhile, New York City film columnist Robin Diamond is coping with rising doubts about her husband and terrifying threats from internet trolls. But that’s nothing compared to the outrageous phone call she gets from Quentin… and a brutal home invasion that makes her question everything she ever believed in. Is Robin’s beloved mother a mass murderer? Is there anyone she can trust?

Told through the eyes of those destroyed by the Inland Empire Killings—including Robin, Quentin, and a fifteen-year-old April Cooper—Never Look Back asks the question:

How well do we really know our parents, our partners—and ourselves?


Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin is an intriguing mystery about a podcast producer who takes a look at a case that hits close to home.

Quentin Garrison is working on his newest podcast project in hopes of finding some measure of peace about his conflicted relationship with his mother. His family’s history is deeply intertwined with a murderous spree killing that took place in 1976. Teenagers April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy murdered twelve victims before dying in a fire at a commune.  Quentin never knew his father and his mother Kate was an addict who neglected him throughout his childhood. With the help of his best friend and podcast co-producer Summer Hawkins and his husband Dean, Quentin has worked hard to moved on from his unhappy past. At Summer’s urging, Quentin hopes their latest project will help him forever close the door on the harm he experienced at the hands of his indifferent mother.

However, an unexpected tip takes the podcast in an entirely new direction when a source offers proof that April Cooper did not perish in the fire and is in fact, living in New York under a new identity.  Hoping to find definitive proof that Renee Bloom is really April Cooper, Quentin journeys to New York where not long after reaching out to Renee’s daughter, movie columnist Robin Diamond, both Renee and her husband Mitchell are victims of a violent home invasion. Could the attack just be an unfortunate coincidence? Quentin does not believe that is the case, and eventually neither does Robin. But will either of them uncover the truth about who is behind the attack and why?

Robin initially dismisses Quentin’s suggestion that her mother could be April Cooper. But after the attack on her parents, she does begin to wonder about Renee’s past. Her mother has always been unusually close-lipped about her life before marrying Robin’s father.  When a barely remembered person from her childhood unexpectedly turns up, Robin is initially happy to reconnect with a friend of her mother’s. Robin is surprised by some of the information she learns, but do any of these revelations mean there is anything nefarious lurking in Renee’s distant childhood?

Chapters featuring letters from April detail the terrifying events playing out in 1976. April is at first a coerced accomplice to Gabriel’s  murders. But as her enforced captivity continues, she eventually becomes more than an unwilling victim forced into accompanying him as Gabriel continues murdering with impunity.  These chapters are increasingly unsettling as April’s plans come to a chilling end.

Written from various perspectives, Never Look Back  by Alison Gaylin is a clever mystery with a unique premise. The storyline is interesting but the pacing is a little slow. Savvy readers will most likely piece together the truth long before the somewhat convoluted yet satisfying conclusion. Fans of the genre will most likely enjoy this innovative mystery.

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Filed under Alison Gaylin, Contemporary, Mystery, Never Look Back, Rated B, Review, Suspense, William Morrow Paperbacks