I’m a fairly new lover of Harlan Coben’s books, not really reading the American author’s work until a few years ago. Although I didn’t LOVE love his 2016 novel, Fool Me Once, his long and much-lauded career is an indication that he consistently produces quality work and his latest novel is no different.
In fact, although I wanted the mystery at hand to be resolved, I kinda didn’t want the book to finish and I suspect that’s a combination of the great characters on offer and an addictive plot.
Don't Let Go
by Harlan Coben
Published by Century
on September 26th 2017
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1780894244, 9781780894249
Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn't been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother's death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he's been looking for.
When Maura's fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.
I’m not usually a fan of the ‘conspiracy theory’ type book and Coben’s author’s note in the beginning mentions a couple of rumours from his hometown as a kid – one of which revolved around a nuclear missile base hidden in plain sight – which inspired this novel.
I’m not sure why, but the whole secret government experiment thing as a theme is a struggle for me. I mean, I’ve read some great recent books about memory erasing (or planting) and the like, but in some ways it’s been done to death. And I’m always kinda surprised people are shocked to think our governments keep secrets from us. Cos well… that’s what they do: they deal with shit so we don’t have to.
Anyhoo…. Happily I didn’t find this to reflect an overly-paranoid and delusional cast or theme, and interestingly – it’s set in 2016 – so we’re talking about a post 9/11 world, rather than the cold war of the 70s, although it had that feel about it. (Or perhaps I’m still thinking 20-30 years ago WAS the 1970s, rather than the 90s!). #denial
I really liked Nap and would love to see him feature in more books but suspect Coben’s attempted to give him closure in this book. Although series regular Myron Bolitar makes a brief appearance, so perhaps Nap will float around future books (series or standalones).
The intersection of two plots (the then and now) was seamless in this novel and I guess it’s because they’re obviously linked. Well, it’s obvious to Nap and the detectives he meets in Pennsylvania, but not so obvious to his mentor and local police chief, Captain Augie Styles. Of course though, the events from 15 years ago impacted Augie’s life as much as they did Nap’s. And interestingly even Nap comments on the fact he has been able to get over the death of his brother – it’s more the unanswered questions that plague him… and they’re as much about Maura’s disappearance as Leo’s death.
This book is kinda written in second person…. as if Nap is speaking to his long-dead brother. I didn’t feel like the whole thing was being told (to Leo) so we settled into some hybrid of first and second person narration I think – in which Nap tells his story, occasionally referencing Leo directly as his audience.
I like that Coben delves a little deeper in this novel into our memories and isn’t afraid to remind us that we’re prone to worship someone who may not have as pristine or perfect as we thought or remembered and that sometimes we’re quick to blind ourselves to the real nature of those we love and respect. And of course there’s the ubiquitous debate between justice and revenge. And past secrets best left buried.
I kinda guessed part of the whodunnit here, though not the why… which isn’t really revealed until late in the novel. I did feel as if there were a couple of unanswered questions or loose ends (around baddies getting their comeuppance kind of thing) but on the whole really enjoyed this fast-paced page-turner.
Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben was published in Australia by Penguin and available from 1 October 2017.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.