Review

Seconds Away: A Mickey Bolitar Novel

by Harlan Coben

Coben was nominated for an Edgar award for SHELTER, the first in the Mickey Bolitar series, and SECONDS AWAY is just as absorbing and mysterious. In SECONDS AWAY, Mickey is getting ready for basketball tryouts, yet still wondering about his father’s death and his work saving children with the Abeona Shelter. Mickey had his own experience with a rescue in SHELTER, and now the Bat Lady behind the Shelter is back, giving him a mysterious photo of a Nazi war criminal Mickey thinks he has met. In fact, he thinks he met this same man as a paramedic at the accident that killed his father. When his friend Rachel is shot in the head and her mother killed, Mickey has a more pressing mystery to solve. There is no shortage of twists and surprises in this volume. Though readers may want to read about Mickey’s first case for Abeona in SHELTER, it is not necessary to enjoy this title.

"The strength of this series lies in the twists, not only in the plot, but also with the characters...The powerful theme of choice and consequent responsibility amid suspense and heroic action also appears in books by Peter Abrahams for this age group. Fans of Coben’s adult stories will enjoy this as well."

Spoon, Ema and Mickey are back at the unpopular lunch table, trying to puzzle out what happened to Rachel. Mickey trusts no one else, especially not his Uncle Myron, who is pulled away to be a bodyguard for a famous movie star filming in town. The only thing he and Myron seem to have in common is basketball. They share in the excitement when Mickey is asked to try out for the varsity team.

Then, Mickey sees a glimpse of the man he believes is a Nazi war criminal in the Bat Lady’s house. After he follows him in, the house begins to burn and Mickey escapes only to be arrested. Having police involvement hurts his chance at sports and further pulls him into Rachel’s mystery.

Although Rachel’s injury was only a graze, she warns Mickey against getting involved. He ignores that, wanting to help. He digs into her secrets and uncovers more about his family and even Ema’s. The strength of this series lies in the twists, not only in the plot, but also with the characters. The arc of the mystery surrounding the death of Mickey’s father moves forward in a surprising way, with Myron agreeing to help him get his father’s body exhumed.

A couple of adults try to give him advice to stay away from Rachel’s family, but he and his friends willingly enter danger to try and save her. Things come to a head when another of Mickey’s friends lands in the hospital. He persists until the end of this mystery, only to find himself on a painful crossroads. His personal choices end in a stunning conclusion that will leave readers waiting for the next installment of this well-written series. The powerful theme of choice and consequent responsibility amid suspense and heroic action also appears in books by Peter Abrahams for this age group. Fans of Coben’s adult stories will enjoy this as well.

Reviewed by Amy Alessio on September 26, 2012

Seconds Away: A Mickey Bolitar Novel
by Harlan Coben