“Never Look Away” by Linwood Barclay; Delacorte (432 pages, $25)

The family thriller perfected by Harlan Coben also has a strong advocate in Canadian author Linwood Barclay. Barclay continues exercising his affinity for stylish, gripping plots about ordinary families pulled into danger beyond their control in his fourth stand-alone thriller.

“Never Look Away” starts at what should be a place of laughter and happiness — an amusement park but a young reporter and devoted family man will question every truth he holds dear before the day is finished.

The outing in upper New York State barely begins for David Harwood, his wife, Jan, and their 4-year-old son, Ethan, when the unthinkable happens.

Ethan disappears when Jan looks away for a second. While Jan runs to find security, David quickly finds their son sleeping in his stroller around the corner. Now Jan seems to be missing. Even weirder, she isn’t on any security video and the park has no record of her entering the park.

David doesn’t sound credible and the police suspect that he killed Jan and then pretended that she came to the park that day. A reporter for the local newspaper, David starts his own investigation into what might have happened to his wife. He soon learns that he never knew the woman he’s been married to for five years.

Barclay smoothly builds a realistic plot as he shows how each action can be interpreted differently. A spat in public, David picking up Ethan at his parents’ home without Jan and a discussion about depression can seem suspicious. As a reporter, David is used to private meetings with confidential sources but the police see these assignations as proof of David’s guilt.

Barclay, a former columnist for the Toronto Star, also skillfully works in the changes in the newspaper industry.

In “Never Look Away,” Barclay keeps the reader off kilter as his plot briskly moves to a logical conclusion. Fans of Coben’s family thrillers will find much to like in Barclay’s approach.

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