Monday, February 21, 2011

PLAY DEAD by Harlan Coben (1990) Penguin

Are you a diehard basketball fan of the Boston Celtics? Have you ever fantasized about having a supermodel as a spouse? Do you like to read thrillers where past mistakes stick to present circumstances like stink on skunk? If you've nodded yes to any of these questions, then chances are PLAY DEAD is your kind of book.

After eloping in Australia, newlywed Laura Ayers finds herself mourning on her honeymoon the unexpected loss of her husband, Celtics superstar David Baskin who appears to have drowned near the Great Barrier Reef. Laura turns to David's best friend, former college roommate and current cop TC for help to uncover the final hours of David's previously charmed life. And, when some of the details just don't add up, Laura discovers she's just not sure who she can trust. Not her family nor her closest friends, it seems, will be able to help Laura inch closer to the truth. And, it's a truth about an horrific incident in the past that threatens to cleave Laura's heart even more in the present.

Coben adds tension to Laura's journey by introducing David's long lost brother Stan, an obvious degenerate who pretends to woo Laura's equally troubled sister Gloria and revealing moment by moment troubling secrets that bind Laura's parents Mary and James, who from the outside appear to be upstanding members of Boston society.

Although I found the ongoing reference to Laura's current beauty and previous ugly duckling adolescence more than a tad tiresome, it didn't deter me from flipping through this well-paced thriller, eager to discover who the true villain was. There are plenty of red herrings to mislead and as a result I felt connected to Laura and her own frustration as she puzzles out the truths about the past and her present.

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