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Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Don't Let GoLots of suspense, and even more emotion, as Detective Napoleon (Nap) Dumas struggles with the strange and untimely death of his twin brother. The death occurred about 15 years ago but it not only was it very strange then but now there are even more happenings that do not really make sense.

Leo, Nap’s brother, and Leo’s girlfriend, Diana, were found dead on the railroad tracks outside of town and appeared to have been hit by a train. The bodies were so badly torn up that very little could be done in the way of an autopsy. The two of them, however, were members of a special club called The Conspiracy Gang which was composed of a group of high school students. These students had been somewhat taken aback when the area of the woods where they hung out to drink, smoke a little pot, and make out got somewhat disturbed by a government base that appeared to be deserted or little used.

Nap, now fifteen years later and a detective gets called in on a case where a cop was shot by a guy who had been picked up in a bar by a woman. It turns out the cop was a member of the Conspiracy Gang as was the woman who made the pickup. The woman, Maura, also happened to be Nap’s girlfriend fifteen years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Missing You by Harlan Coben

Missing YouReviewed by Allen Hott

What an ending! Wait a minute. That is not the regular way to start a review of a book is it? In this case it is quite appropriate. Mr. Coben has put together one of his best stories yet (and possibly the best). But regardless of all the twists and turns nothing can hold a candle to the final chapter! It will bring readers to their knees and just shaking their heads saying “I didn’t expect that”.

Missing You tells the story of Kat Donovan, a NYPD detective, who loses her fiancé early on and is constantly trying to figure out why and where did he go. However she is also at work trying to solve a really big mystery. Read the rest of this entry »

Six Years by Harlan Coben

Six Years Reviewed by Allen Hott

It must have taken Harlan Coben six years to develop the story line and then put together Six Years as it is one of the most complex, deeply involved stories that readers will ever come across. Not to say that it is too much to comprehend because as usual Coben makes the reading exciting and almost drug-like. It is very hard to put it down because there is a never ending series of events that just keep pulling the reader forward. And, yes, the ending is well worth the work and the wait.

Jake Fisher is a professor in a small college in Massachusetts. The story opens with Fisher watching Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. He has a terrible time believing what has happened. They were without a doubt perfect for each other and deeply in love. When Natalie suddenly dropped him and then within a few weeks married another man he can’t accept it. He attends the wedding and she makes a point to talk to him and tell him to forget her and to never, ever come looking for her. Natalie makes him promise to do these two things.

Six years have now gone by and though he thinks of her continually he has come to the conclusion that they will never ever be together again. He dated but never found another woman that he truly wanted. He has spent his time teaching and dreaming about what could have been. Read the rest of this entry »

Stay Close by Harlan Coben

Stay Close Reviewed by Allen Hott

There is no doubt that Harlan Coben is one of the top suspense writers of our times and Stay Close is another of his really great books. He is able to take ordinary people in ordinary situations and then build a story that is full of intrigue and suspense. His characters are believable, his descriptions are right on, and the dialogue keeps the story moving at a great pace.

In this one a typical housewife with two kids and a husband has never really disclosed to anyone some of the happenings in her past. And as the story progresses the reader understands why and even agrees with Megan as she goes about her normal suburban life. But the problems begin when she begins to fixate on some happening long ago.

At the same time in Atlantic City there is a photographer who is barely eking out a living by shooting fake paparazzi type photos for rich kids to act out their dreams as celebrities. In truth Ray is a truly fine photographer who should be doing what he did in an earlier day. At one time he was a well-known and renowned photographer who traveled the world doing photos for international news organizations. His drinking and lifestyle have not really altered his expertise but he also seems to spend a lot of time reminiscing at least in his mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Caught by Harlan Coben

CaughtReviewed by Allen Hott

Kind of have to believe that Harlan Coben felt that this title would apply to most of the readers of this mystery. Caught is the way that the reader will feel as he goes along trying to figure out who did what to whom and why. Really great entanglement with typical Coben skill. He blends several plots and various characters together as well or better than most writers. And he never fails to build to an ending that the reader has figured out and then bam! Not exactly what was expected.

The beginning is just the right thing to get a reader into the feeling as a man, who is answering what he believes is a distress call from one of his young female wards, walks right into a setup put together by a newspaper reporter. The reporter, Wendy Tynes, has gotten Dan Mercer into conversing with her on line as she pretended to be a young girl. Tynes felt that Mercer was trolling on line for sex with underage girls. She got him to come to the house and then she with her crew televised his reaction to her questions that pointed to him and his escapades.

At about the same time another set of parents are worried because their teenage daughter had been missing for several weeks. When she was not seen nor heard from all of the parents in the community felt sure that Mercer had taken her and done something with her. Read the rest of this entry »

Back Spin by Harlan Coben

Back Spin Reviewed by Allen Hott

Myron Bolitar, sports agent/private investigator, in one of his first cases as written by Harlan Coben. Bolitar and his group which includes Win, Esperanza, and Big Cyndi comprise MB Agency. And though they are a sports agency that represents athletes of all types some way or another their clients always end up in some sort of criminal mischief. Not always is it the athlete’s fault but still they are involved and thusly so is MB Agency.

Back Spin follows the problems that Myron encounters primarily on the Merion Golf Course during the playing of the U.S. Open. It involves the fellow who is leading the Open throughout the week and his family which turns out to be part of Win’s family also. It appears that Jack Coldren’s sixteen year old son has been kidnapped right prior to the Open. The family didn’t realize he was kidnapped as they believed he was at a buddy’s house.

For various reasons and especially since the kidnapper told them not to do it, the family decided not to tell the police. They opted to bring Myron into the case as he has built quite a reputation for solving problems. Because of some family problems in the past, Win, who has always worked as a big part of Myron’s investigative team, refuses to help Myron on this one.

Primarily using Esperanza’s assistance Myron begins digging into the background of the golfer’s family. The deeper they dig the stranger things seem to appear and the murkier the water gets. Read the rest of this entry »

Stay Close by Harlan Coben

Stay CloseReviewed by Allen Hott

How intertwined people’s lives can sometimes turn out is pretty much the premise of Stay Close. Things that occurred years ago in a lifetime can often come back to either haunt a person or make a person feel giddy and happy. Most of the things that come back in this book tend to haunt the person involved.

The main character, Cassie as she was known as in her days as a stripper in Atlantic City many years ago, is now living as Megan. As Megan she has a loving husband and two teenaged youngsters in the New Jersey countryside. When she receives a phone call from an old acquaintance back in Atlantic City she feels she has to return to find out some answers to questions that were left unresolved upon her departure.

Another friend of that old acquaintance is a photographer who developed a drinking problem brought on by some strong guilt feelings. Ray is now not the respected photojournalist that he was but rather a very disturbed man who ekes out a living doing menial photo shoots. Little does he realize that he is about to not only meet up again with the lost love of his live but he is also about to be looked upon as a possible murderer.

Detective Broome began investigating a missing person who had been thought to be a runaway husband. Broome had become very close with this fellow’s wife and family. Broome felt something strange about the case and though it was now more than fifteen years past he still was pursuing answers. Read the rest of this entry »

Play Dead by Harlan Coben

Play DeadReviewed by Allen Hott

An older Coben mystery but still great reading. Pretty much as usual he has tied the characters into basketball but along with that approach he has integrated a love story and also a really intriguing murder mystery.

Play Dead opens with a prologue telling of a meeting between several people who appear to be arguing. That prologue ends with a gunshot and then the story begins to unfold. Not with the gunshot and possible murder. At least not yet. Oh no, Coben then weaves in the love story and explains how Celtics basketball star David Baskin and Laura Ayars are enjoying their honeymoon in Australia.

Sadly however that honeymoon turns out very badly as David supposedly is drowned while out swimming. Laura is devastated. After a period of mourning and self-pity she returns to her business where she is the CEO of a large fashion house which she had founded some years ago. One of her top models, Serita, as a major player in the company and Laura’s closest friend, begins to do everything possible to get Laura away from the sadness and on with her life.
Several strange things happen which all seem connected to David’s death. Shortly after his drowning someone took a large sum of money from his bank account and moved it offshore. And about the same time David’s older brother, Stan, shows up supposedly to mourn the death. The truth of the matter is that Stan and David never got along. Stan has lived a completely different life with lots of gambling, women, and little money. He is however very persuasive with the ladies and he begins his own systematic endeavor to work his way into Laura’s life through Laura’s sister. The sister, Gloria, has recently been saved from a terrible life of drugs, sex, and attempted suicide. Read the rest of this entry »

Live Wire by Harlan Coben

Live WireReviewed by Allen Hott

The adventures of Myron Bolitar continue! Harlan Coben’s favorite hero is again on the scene with his gang. Win, Esperanza, and Big Cyndi all pitch in to help Myron on one of his strangest and personally gut-wrenching cases.

As he works to find the missing husband of one of his clients (who happens to be a pregnant tennis star), Myron gets very involved with a very popular singing act called Live Wire. The missing husband is one half of the duo that makes up Live Wire. Not only is he missing but a very strange posting has been made to the wife’s Facebook page that strongly suggests the husband is not the father of the soon to be born child.

Myron begins his search although he is emotionally distressed because his father is presently in the hospital suffering from what could turn out to be a fatal heart attack. His father however urges Myron to continue and at the same time to hunt for Myron’s missing brother who left the family some years ago due to a major confrontation with Myron.
Read the rest of this entry »

Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben

Darkest FearReviewed by Allen Hott

An oldie but goodie by Coben. Myron Bolitar, one of Coben’s continuing characters, is really entangled in this one. First his father has just suffered a heart attack while Bolitar was in the Caribbean and now the outlook of both of Bolitar’s parents has changed. Since he has lived in their basement since before and after college any disruption in their lives affects him.

Even complicating things further is the fact that an old flame of his in college (who dropped him for his biggest competitor) informs Myron that he is the father of her thirteen-year-old son. She and her husband have split up and even worse the son has been found to be in need of a bone marrow transplant. As readers would expect she goes to Myron for help.

And actually the timing is extremely bad as MB Enterprises (Myron’s sports agency) is not doing well and needs his full time commitment to reestablish some ties as well as build some new ones. His partner, Esperanza, and his buddy, Win, are both working to help him but they are not advised of the paternity situation. Read the rest of this entry »