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Sunday, January 13, 2013


CAUGHT (Pub. 2010) by Harlan Coben is an intriguing page-turner.  This story brings a lot to the table, and in classic Coben style, takes us deeply into the lives of families torn apart by unexpected trouble.

Dan Mercer is accused of being a pedophile and set up by a local reporter, Wendy Tynes, in a sting operation to bring the guy down. We get only a brief glimpse of things from Dan's perspective on the front end of the story, but that quick glimpse leads us to believe he's been wrongly accused.

The story then seques to Wendy's POV as things quickly head south for her when she's forced to realize Dan may not have done the things she's implicated him for.  Even though the charges against Dan are dropped, the fallout has ruined his life.  Guilt sets in for Wendy, and she attempts to get to the bottom of whether the man really did what she accused him of.  Her insistent pursuit of the truth, after the fact, quickly leads to deeper trouble and before it is all said and done, she's unearthed multiple serious transgressions, none of them committed by Dan.

What I like best about the story is the way Coben weaves subplots into it that are quite interesting, but also lead back to the main plot in a significant way.  I also like the multiple 'who dunnit' aspects that ride throughout the story, right up to the last page. In typical Coben style, there are several unexpected surprises at the end.

I enjoy the author's Myron Bolitar series, and was pleasantly surprised that, although Bolitar is not present in this story, Coben brings Bolitar's sidekick Win into play in a minor way, as well as a reappearance of Hester Crimstein, a top-notch tough defense attorney. Both of these characters are great and add to the story even though they play minor roles.

Coben's narrative voice is strong throughout, but he keeps it to just the right pitch, so it adds to the reading pleasure, rather than distracting from the story.  Through author narrative and some great one-liners from several characters, he manages to insert a few light beats, in an appropriate way, in what would otherwise be a fairly heavy read due to the issues that are touched on (pedophilia, teenage drinking, murder, living with the loss of loved ones, etc).

I wouldn't change a thing in this story, or the way it was written - it's absolutely spot-on and I read it 24-hours.  Thanks to my spotty memory, I'm sure I will enjoy it just as much the second time around some day down the road.