Book Review – You Were Never Really Here

A former Marine and ex-FBI agent, Joe has seen one too many crime scenes and known too much trauma, and not just in his professional life. Solitary and haunted, he prefers to be invisible. He doesn’t allow himself friends or lovers and makes a living rescuing young girls from the deadly clutches of the sex trade. But when a high-ranking New York politician hires him to extricate his teenage daughter from a Manhattan brothel, Joe uncovers a web of corruption that even he may not be able to unravel. When the men on his trail take the only person left in the world who matters to him, he forsakes his pledge to do no harm. If anyone can kill his way to the truth, it’s Joe…

You Were Never Really Here is a quick, action-packed peek at the trauma behind vigilante justice. We follow Joe as he seeks to rescue a young woman from sex slavery, listening to his every thought as he exacts justice with extreme violence.

The story is a unique look at the noir genre with an ending that surprised me. It felt more like the beginning of a novel than a novella, but the more I sat with it, the more I came to appreciate the way Ames leaves us, and Joe.

Most importantly, I appreciated the way we could see ‘behind the curtain’ into Joe’s psyche–the way his history of violence and his childhood trauma’s left him unable to connect with anyone besides his mother, and the sense of dissociation he feels as a result. The title is apt, a reflection not just of the stealth with which Joe operates, but the way he sees himself.

My only complaints were that the story occasionally switches perspective in a way I found jarring, and that it left me wishing there was more.

4 out of 5 stars

Buy your copy here!


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