Since the last two Harlan Coban novels I read I’ve wanted to read this one, but I’ve just been lazy. This has been sitting on my shelf since April 2016, which isn’t too bad for me. I picked up a copy of this after Cathy at 746 Books mentioned it was her favorite when I read my first two Coben books. I was not disappointed.
These types of books, like many romances and many mysteries, are a dual edged sword for me. When I read them they are wonderful page turners full of action and adventure, but 7-10 days later most, if not all, of the details fade away into oblivion. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s also not a great thing especially if you’re looking for a bit of disposable entertainment.
I enjoy my trashy romance novels, like Lickety Split and Hot Head, and Jane Austen spin-offs, like The Season and The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, as much as the next person, and I definitely enjoyed the first tow Coben novels I read, The Stranger and Fool Me Once, but ask me details about them a year later and chances are I’ll give you a blank look. (Maybe not on the Austen because I know the core stories so well, but I bet I won’t remember characters names from the spin-offs and I would have to refer to them as their original inspiring character.)
This one starts with a band and then sort of smolders for a while and then what I feel was supposed to be a closing bang was sort of meh for me. Like the other Coben novels I’ve read, this story is a page turner. It’s slower at first, but it definitely kicks off. I really felt like you could tell he’s improved his craft from this publication in 2001 to the most recent The Stranger (2015) and Fool Me Once (2016). The more recent novels were crisper and easier to read. The stories in all of them, however, were engaging.
I’m not sure whether I enjoyed the merging of the mob type world and the drug/gang world with the nonprofit world, but in a way it sort of made sense because of Beck (the protagonist’s) job and his sister’s job. I think Coben has grown a lot as a writer going back and sampling this. His characters were okay here, but they’re stronger in the more recent novels. I almost felt like he had a checklist as he was writing this one: LGBT individual: check; quiet thug: check; greasy old timey mob hit-man: check; mysterious father-in-law/father: check’; incompetent/greedy law enforcement: check. I won’t revisit this one, but it was fun while I was in it.
Recommendation: Worth a read if you want a (mostly) fast-paced thriller. I would probably recommend checking out a newer book as I felt they were stronger, but if the synopsis of this one grabs you then definitely don’t run away from it.
Opening Line: “There should have been a dark whisper in the wind.”
Closing Line: “And that, I knew, would always be enough.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)