Monday, September 3, 2018

Another Story from Harlan Coben of Life and Death on the Mean Streets of Suburban New Jersey

Harlan Coben long ago cornered the market on the New Jersey Suburban Family Thriller sub-genre, which involves average, ordinary American folks--almost always wonderful people with great families--who are suddenly thrown into chaos and danger when some powerful negative force intrudes into their daily lives. Such is the case here.

Our protagonist is a New Jersey lawyer named Adam Price. He and his wife, Corinne, are living the American dream with excellent jobs, a very nice, comfortable home, and two great sons. Their principal worries seem to revolve around whether or not their elder son is being treated fairly by his lacrosse coach and whether the kid will get enough playing time.

Then, out of nowhere, Adam's world is abruptly turned upside down when a stranger approaches him in a bar and reveals a devastating secret about Corinne. At first, Adam refuses to believe the story, but the stranger offers evidence to support the allegation he has made and when Adam finally confronts Corinne, she evades the discussion he so desperately wants to have. She insists that they meet at a restaurant for dinner so they can discuss the matter in a place where there sons can't overhear the conversation. 

Adam appears at the restaurant, but Corinne never does. Instead, he gets a text from her phone, saying the she needs some time alone and will come back when she can. In the meantime, Adam should take good care of the kids. Adam assumes that the police will do little or nothing to find his wife under these circumstances and so he launches his own search for her. Along the way, he hears several other troubling allegations about the woman he thought he knew so well. 

Meanwhile, other poor victims are receiving visits from the stranger and his confederates, and a lot more lives are being upended. As Adam's search draws him closer to the center of this troubling mystery, he antagonizes some dangerous and desperate adversaries, and it becomes entirely possible that even if Corinne should finally return home, her husband may have lost his life in his desperate effort to find her.

I thought that this book was okay--an entertaining way to spend a couple of nights, but a story that is quickly forgettable. The plot requires a very strong suspension of disbelief, and I found it hard to take the story very seriously. I enjoyed it, although not as much as several of Coben's other novels, but you can't argue with success. Millions of people are clearly hooked by Coben's tales, and so even though this book didn't work for me as well as I would have wished, I'm glad that so many other readers have enjoyed it.

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