Review #9: Caught by Harlan Coben
After pulling off a “To Catch a Predator” ambush on social worker Dan Mercer, Wendy Tynes is poised for fame as a hold-no-punches investigative television reporter. Three months later, however, when a teen girl goes missing, Wendy begins to question all the evidence that she herself gathered. When she delves more into Mercer’s background, she finds a long-standing grudge may be at play, and that Mercer may be as innocent as he always claimed to be.
This is the very basic plot line for this stand alone novel by Harlan Coben. Coben is best known for the Myron Bolitar series and for a couple of his early non-series novels (including Tell No One which was turned into a French film). His Bolitar series is undoubtedly his best work, as there are usually good (often scandalous) mysteries, and Myron and his sidekick, Win, have great witty chemistry. Myron is fairly believable and Win is a handsome sociopathic (I always imagine him as Barney Stinson). Okay, so I guess the fact that I’ve talked for four lines about the Bolitar series says a lot about my thoughts on this book.
In sum, the best part of this book are the cameos from Win. There ya go. Truth. There is truly little to no character development. Wendy is pretty bland, and I don’t think she was ever physically described. The subplot with the Coffee Shop Fathers is beyond annoying (I had to skip entire pages because of the inclusion of a 40-something year old, white, wannabe rapper’s LYRICS). A good chunk of the dialogue was trite and expository. The storyline had so much potential to really explore many dark sides of man, and the things we’re willing to do for fame, fortune, success, or recognition. Alas, Coben went with multiple red herrings (seriously, I thought the end was over about 3 times before it was actually done) which kind of nullified all the story’s potential.
Overall, I stuck with the story. It was fine, but a bit disappointing because I’ve enjoyed his previous writing so much. This almost felt like ghost writing, because it lacked the spark from previous books. If you like Harlan Cober, I’d pass on this one. If you’ve never read him, don’t start with this one.