Sunday, October 9, 2016

A College Professor Finds Serious Trouble While Searching for His Long-Lost Love

This is another of Harlan Coben's stand-alones, filled with his patented twists and turns. It opens as a college professor named Jake Fisher watches the love of his life, Natalie, marry another man. Jake and Natalie had met at a retreat in Vermont where he was completing his doctoral dissertation and she was an artist. They had a whirlwind romance and were seemingly made for each other when Natalie suddenly tells Jake that she has decided to marry an old boyfriend named Todd. The wedding is held a week later. Natalie invites Jake to make sure he gets the message, and after the ceremony she begs him to leave them alone and never to contact her again.

Jake is completely crushed, but honors Natalie's wish. For the next six years, he devotes himself to his job as a professor in a small liberal arts college while continuing to pine away for his lost love. Then one day, almost by accident, Jake notices an obituary for Natalie's husband, Todd. By some miraculous coincidence, it turns out that Todd was a graduate of the college where Jake teaches and the obit is published on the college website.

Now Jake determines to contact Natalie, if only to offer his condolences. He rationalizes this by telling himself that he had promised to leave "them" alone. He has honored his promise for six years, but he figures that they is no "them" anymore and so he's not really breaking his word. Jake flies south to the funeral, only to discover that Todd's widow is someone else entirely. The widow claims that Todd was never married to anyone else, and certainly not to anyone named Natalie.

This is a novel by Harlan Coben and so naturally, things will get increasingly stranger as the story progresses. Jake launches a determined effort to find Natalie, only to discover that powerful forces are arrayed against him and that he and any number of others may be in deadly danger if he persists in his search.

This is an interesting, if not quite believable premise, and Coben jacks up the tension as the story progresses. I enjoyed it up to a point, but as often happens in these novels, Coben threw in so many abrupt twists that the whole edifice of the story simply collapsed, at least for me, and I could no longer continue to suspend disbelief and take the story seriously. I've enjoyed a lot of Coben's books, especially the Myron Bolitar series, and it's hard to argue that a guy who sells a gazillion books every time out of the gate could possibly be doing anything wrong. But I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if the story had been a bit more believable.

No comments:

Post a Comment