Gregory Gibson’s eighteen-year-old son was dead, shot in the doorway of his college library by a fellow student gone berserk. The murderer was in jail for life, but for Gibson the tragedy was still unfolding. The morning of the shooting, he learned, college officials had intercepted a shipment of ammunition addressed to the murderer, only to pass it along, unopened. They had received an anonymous warning about the murderer and the gun, but they did not call the police.
After years of increasing frustration, his civil suit against the college stalled in a morass of technicalities, Gibson woke one morning to a mesmerizing vision of his own rage and helplessness. He was so distraught over the murder of his son that he now felt ready to get a gun and murder someone. Recognizing the absurdity of this proposition may have saved his life. It also led him to the realization that he had to do something before he destroyed himself. He resolved to discover and document exactly who was to blame for his son’s death, and why. He decided to go on a walkabout.
Gibson’s wayward mission begins with a visit to the man who sold the gun to the killer and ends, like a hardboiled mystery, in a place no one could have predicted. Along the way he meets the detectives, lawyers, psychiatrists, politicians, gun collectors, college bureaucrats, and more than a few lost souls. The spirit of this book is that of a man talking to himself with incredible toughness, a man figuring his way out of honest grief and undiluted rage with American skepticism and a sense of humor as penetrating and dry as good whiskey.
Finally, Gone Boy is a murderous and cunning inquiry into guns, violence, and manhood in America. It is the truthful story of a father and son traveling the crooked path of the sometimes harrowing but largely hopeful journey into becoming men. Brilliantly conceived, expertly crafted, Gone Boy is a masterpiece of suspense and heart. It is a classic for our time.
In an Afterward to this new edition, Gibson tells how his search has continued in ways no one could have predicted: when he and his son’s killer wound up in correspondence with each other, their unlikely story became national news, appearing on the front page of the New York Times.