Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book Reviews: "Caught" and "Promise Me"

This year, I discovered Harlan Coben. "Discover" is really not the appropriate term, given he has 50 million books in print worldwide. I was, however, reminded how suspenseful and addictive his thriller mystery novels are. It takes a lot for me to want to stay in the infusion chair, with the needle in my arm, for a single moment longer than necessary. Yet when I was reading "Caught" and "Promise Me," I would lose track of time, and continue to read in that same chair once the nurse had removed the IV.

"Promise Me" is an installment in the Myron Bolitar thriller series. It picks up where the series left off seven years earlier. Because of the gap, the book contains a fair amount of material to get the reader reacquainted with Myron, who is a likable, witty protagonist. Despite the backstory distraction, the novel is a fast-paced thriller. In the novel, Myron asks two teenage girls to promise him that if they are ever unable to find a sober ride home, they will call him. He will take them home, no questions asked. One of the girls keeps that promise, and Myron drives her to a friend's house late one night. The next day, Myron learns she's missing. Now he is the one who makes a promise, to the girl's mother. He promises to find her missing daughter.

"Caught" is a standalone mystery. Reporter Wendy Tynes believes she has helped catch child molester, Dan Mercer. As a ripple effect of events unfold, including the discovery of a link between Dan and a missing teenage girl, Wendy begins to question the evidence, her conclusions, and her convictions. This book is both a page-turner and a timely portrayal of the challenges that families with teenagers face.

Coben's latest thrillers are "Live Wire," starring Myron Bolitar, and "Shelter." Shelter is a new series for young adults, which introduces sleuth Mickey Bolitar, Myron's nephew. The Mickey Bolitar website  is impressive. I haven't read these two books yet, though I've added them to my reading list. Buying a Harlan Coben novel is like buying a GE appliance-- you know you'll be getting a good value. GE's products are dependable, and you can depend on Coben to weave a story that compels you to keep turning the pages late into the night.