Review

Caught

by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben has just unleashed a rocket of a book titled
CAUGHT. Coben has reached the point in his brilliant career where
he has become a genre unto himself; his name comes up in
conversation even with casual readers, so that browsing the shelf
in any home that has books prominently displayed will more often
than not reveal at least one or two Coben titles. But whether you
are a longtime fan of his, have a passing familiarity with him, or
have never read a word he has written, you need to check out his
latest novel. Take two of a parent’s major fears --- child
abduction and sexual predators --- combine those with the hot
button topic of teenage drinking, and you have a book that is as
current as tomorrow’s newspaper and your favorite news
website.

Perhaps CAUGHT should have been titled “Caught Up”
because that is what you will be from the first paragraph of this
book, which begins when Dan Mercer is caught up in a child predator
sting. Mercer, who works with foster children, seems to have been
caught dead to rights by Wendy Tynes, a fireball investigative
television reporter who has been making a career of investigating
and catching child molesters. But Tynes winds up with egg on her
face and out of a job when the charges against Mercer are thrown
out, and he suddenly disappears.

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old named Haley McWaid has mysteriously
vanished from her comfortable home in the New Jersey suburbs.
Everyone fears the worst, since Haley, a star lacrosse player who
was heading for college in a few months, seemed to have everything
to live for and no reason to run away. But when a startling
incident involving Tynes occurs, a subsequent investigation
provides an unexpected and shocking link between Mercer and Haley.
Tynes, given a chance to salvage her career, begins investigating
Haley’s disappearance, as well as Mercer’s background.
What she discovers leads her to Mercer’s college friends, who
all seem to have experienced a dramatic comedown in life within a
year of each other. Tynes soon finds that she may well have been
wrong about Mercer, as well as many other things, which will have
important consequences for herself and others.

CAUGHT is a stand-alone title, though there are a number of
characters within (Tynes among them) who readers would be welcome
to encounter in a future novel. It is arguably Coben’s
fastest paced and most intricately plotted work. Those familiar
with the thriller and mystery genres in general and with
Coben’s books in particular may guess some of the twists that
unfold here. But it is doubtful that they will catch all of them,
particularly the ones related to Haley’s fate. There are
bombshells aplenty, and the storyline is so intricate that it is
difficult to describe much about the plot without making major
revelations that are best saved for discovery within the covers of
the book.

Coben’s trademark ability to navigate sure-footedly
through a complex forest of twists and turns is once again present,
and its topical subject matter and rapid pacing makes CAUGHT a
perfect companion for spring and summer vacations.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 26, 2010

Caught
by Harlan Coben

  • Publication Date: March 23, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult
  • ISBN-10: 052595158X
  • ISBN-13: 9780525951582