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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.

The animosity toward Mercer builds as more and more neighbors feel that he, because of his job giving him proximity to youngsters, was without a doubt guilty. Wendy’s television job was the key to convincing many of the townspeople that something needed to be done to Mercer. However when he is put on trial the case was dismissed for lack of evidence and to make matters worse Wendy was fired from her job. Her employees felt that she had done poorly with the entire investigation and they lost faith with her reporting style.

However she decides on her own to continue her digging because she feels certain that Mercer is guilty of the charges. In the meantime another resident, who is very much on her side, convinces her that he can assist her in getting Mercer. His method is somewhat different and the outcome is one that seems out of place so early in the story line. His presence does make a major difference in the story line as does the appearance of Mercer’s former college roommates.

But Coben knows what he is doing and he pulls together a tremendous story that is entirely believable and tightly wound. There are many avenues that a reader can take to get to his finish but probably none of them will be as involved and interesting as the way Coben does it. Really great read and with no sex or profanity. Just tantalizing clues and twists to make you leave the light on and read a bit longer!

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