Series or stand alone: stand alone
Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Haley McWaid is a good girl, the pride of her suburban New Jersey family, captain of the lacrosse team, headed off to college next year with all the hopes and dreams her doting parents can pin on her. Which is why, when her mother wakes one morning to find that Haley never came home the night before, and three months quickly pass without word from the girl, the community assumes the worst.
Wendy Tynes is a reporter on a mission, to identify and bring down sexual predators via elaborate and nationally televised sting operations. Working with local police on her news program Caught in the Act, Wendy and her team have publicly shamed dozens of men by the time she encounters her latest target. Dan Mercer is a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens, but his story soon becomes more complicated than Wendy could have imagined.
First line: I knew opening that red door would destroy my life.
Reason for reading: I adore Harlan Coben because he is one of the best thriller writers out there.
Cover: I sometimes think thrillers, mysteries and crime novels are on par with romance when it comes to poor covers. Given the topic of this novel, I’m not really sure how they could have done it in a more eye-catching manner.
Thoughts: Initially, I thought this was going to be Coben’s best novel to date as it started out very strongly. However, by the midpoint it was beginning to lag but the final fifth more than made up for a stodgy middle.
It is an interesting novel because we don’t know whether Dan is actually a paedophile or not. On the surface it seems he is but after digging a little further Wendy is unsure. This uncertainty comes after the programme which claims he is guilty of this crime has been broadcast, after his life has been ruined. Which begs the question, should the identities of suspected paedophiles, or other criminals, become public knowledge before they have been found guilty?
Coben’s novels always follow a formula: set in suburbia, the crime happens within the first chapter and we get to know the victim(s), often a missing person, through the rest of the story. I rarely try to guess the outcome as the plots tend to be complex and full of twists and turns. Normally, I hate when an author follows a formula but with Coben it works.
This is a good, solid stand alone thriller which is very enjoyable and a bit unpredictable.
Currently reading: Brian Katcher’s Playing With Matches.