Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another Fast-Paced Novel from Twist Master Harlan Coben

NYPD detective Kat Donovan hasn't had a meaningful relationship since the love of her life walked out on her eighteen years ago. She seems to spend a lot of time brooding, not only about her long-lost love, but also about the death of her father, a cop who was shot to death at virtually the same time. The man who confessed to killing her father is now dying in prison and Kat is hoping against hope that the man will finally explain why he pulled the trigger and who ordered the hit.

To cheer her up and to get some romance back in her life, Kat's best friend secretly enrolls her on an online dating site. (This hardly seems like something any sort of friend would do to a person, but the plot depends on it.) Rather than being angered by her "friend's" temerity, Kat logs onto the site and --lo and behold!!, miracle of miracles!!--practically the first face she sees is that of Jeff, the lover who abandoned her all those years ago. Jeff is now, conveniently, a widower who is thus available again.

Kat sends him a message, referencing their favorite song, which just happens to be "Missing You," by John Waite, and then sits on pins and needles, waiting for a response. When it comes, Jeff appears not to remember her, which crushes Kat. She sends him another message, identifying herself, and Jeff replies telling her that the past is past, and she should just leave him alone.

Something doesn't seem quite right, and so Kat begins to investigate and stumbles onto an Internet dating scam where innocent victims are going of on dates with people they met online and are never heard from again. And--horror of horrors!--Kat's old boyfriend seems to be right in the middle of the scam.

Meanwhile, Kat bursts into the prison hospital and confronts the man who confessed to killing her father, but the visit leaves her more confused than ever. Her superiors tell her to let it rest and stop torturing herself, but of course, she's not going to do that.

As the book progresses, Kat divides her attention between the two great mysteries of her life, trying to resolve at least one, if not both of them. It's going to be a very dangerous ride, and, as is usually the case in a Harlan Coben novel, the reader will be virtually whipsawed by all of the violent twists and turns that the novel takes. 

It's not a bad way to spend a few hours, but there's really no reason to combine these two very disparate plot ideas into one book. As Kat veers back and forth between the two investigations, the book tends to lose momentum every time we switch from one to the other. My other concern, which is not unique to this novel, is that Coben ultimately tosses in one last plot twist that simply takes the whole thing over the top. It's clear that he enjoys doing this sort of thing, and apparently a lot of his readers enjoy it too, but for me it's a twist too far and inevitably leaves me a bit disgruntled every time I finish one these novels. 

It's an okay read, but to my mind it would have been a lot better if Coben had focused on one or the other of the two main plot lines and if he had resisted the urge to throw in the final twist.

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