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.

While this is all happening Laura is finding out some details of the lives of her parents and her aunt. But she really doesn’t dig too deeply into what is happening this entanglement as she is too intent on figuring out the entire David drowning mystery.

Part of her problem in getting to the bottom of this is that T.C., a police officer, who was David’s closest friend seems to be evading something that could possibly have played a part in the drowning and he doesn’t answer Laura’s questions. Also the season is about to start for the Celtics and though at first they figured to sorely miss the outstanding play that David had given them, suddenly now on the scene is a new potential star. Mark Seidman, this new player, has many of David’s tendencies and superb playing skills but does not look like David except in height.

All of these things bounce back and forth much like a basketball on the court and Coben keeps the players all involved. Moving toward the end of the book there are even more feints, dunks, and blocks to keep the reader involved also. A really well written book that holds the reader’s interest all the way to the end. Another great read by Harlan Coben.

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