Tuesday, January 18, 2011
TELL NO ONE by Harlan Coben (2001) Random House
Harlan Coben is a new-to-me crime fiction writer. I have become familiar with his name through Twitter where his fellow novelist Alafair Burke (with whose work I am happily familiar and utterly committed as a reader) has commented about his writing and what a swell guy he is and where I also follow his 140-character tweets @HarlanCoben. Last week I was talking up Alafair Burke's books to a colleague and he just happened to recommend Coben and offered to loan me his favourite: TELL NO ONE.
As part of the Criminal Plots Reading challenge, Coben's TELL NO ONE serves as the book by an author who has blurbed a crime novel I've already read--in my case the overexposed Stieg Larsson's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.
TELL NO ONE follows Dr. David Beck, a widower who continues to grieve the loss of his wife Elizabeth eight years after the traumatic evening he heard her piercing screams and she was abducted, the last night he saw her alive. His friends worry about Beck and encourage him to accommodate Elizabeth's loss in his life and move on. Beck immerses himself in his work as a pediatrician who serves a slum community where many of the parents he sees are children themselves.
However, one day Beck receives an enigmatic message on his work computer and the content of that message opens up a sliver of hope that perhaps Elizabeth isn't dead after all. Beck becomes obsessed with the idea that Elizabeth's death was a hoax and he enlists his sister's partner Shauna (his university roommate and most trusted friend) to help him puzzle out the truth.
In a story that Dennis Lehane calls "an exhilarating, bang-up, Porsche turbo of a novel," Coben unravels a narrative with twists and turns that take you to the precipice at Beck's side wondering how he will ever possibly elude the gangsters and federal officers who now pursue him with equal zeal.
This first exposure to Coben's style has me convinced to read my way through all of his novels, looking forward to what I expect to be gripping, intelligent, morally-driven stories that matter.