No 715 Caught by Harlan Coben

 

caught

If any of you out there are unfamiliar with the phenomenon that is Harlan Coben, here are a few facts.
• All but his first two books are still in print, and his backlist sells about 1 million paperbacks in the United States each year.
• Including his worldwide figures, he sells about 2.7 million books a year.
• It is estimated that Coben earns at least $3 million to $4 million per book, when foreign rights are factored in.
• His work has been translated into 41 languages
• His last SEVEN CONSECUTIVE novels all debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list

 
Impressive stuff, I think you’ll agree.

 

Photo Credit: Miriam Berkley
Photo Credit: Miriam Berkley

I’ve been a fan of Coben since I discovered his mystery series featuring Myron Bolitar, sports agent turned investigator, but it is his stand alone novels that have really taken him to the next level.
Here’s the thing. Coben pretty much does one thing and does it really, really well. No gritty noir or hard boiled detectives here, Coben has cornered the market in suburban family everyman/ woman in peril. You can count on there being dark secrets from the past, snappy dialogue, short chapters and twists. Then more twists. And when you think he’s finally finished with you, there just might be another twist for you to get your head around.

 
If I sound flippant, I don’t really mean to be. I enjoy Coben’s books, I mean, I’ve pretty much read them all. And I enjoy them because I know exactly what I’m going to get.

 
So to Caught. Social worker and basketball coach Dan’s life goes as wrong as a life can when he is accused of grooming a younger girl for sex, and child pornography is found on his computer. Acquitted on a technicality, he is living rough, unable to rebuild a life so shattered. Marcia’s life has also been shattered; her teenage daughter Haley has disappeared. Add into the mix the bad things that are happening to a group of men, Dan included, who were not only members of the same class a generation ago at Princeton University; they also roomed together as freshmen. The ‘detective’ role in Caught is taken by Wendy Tynes, the widowed journalist who unmasked Dan, but is now unsure of everything she believes as she tries to piece together what happened to Dan and to Hayley.
Tynes’ pursuit of the truth takes her through a maze at breakneck speed and disappearing corpses, mistaken identities, dead hookers, embezzlement, conspiracies, drugs and drunk driving are just a few of the plot points that are all neatly tied up at the end.

 

There is not much in the way of character development, most of what we learn comes from what they say. I wasn’t particularly emotionally invested in anyone and there are some caricatures in here, but none of this really matters. It is totally engrossing. The narration—which keeps moving and shifting, from one plot strand and alternative view point to another in each short chapter often featuring its own perfectly crafted mini cliff hanger—has a mesmerising effect.

The main thing I think when reading Coben is ‘just one more chapter, just one more…’ as he is a master of the page-turning, unputdownable blockbuster. What he does is impressive if you don’t expect it to be anything more than it is. I read Caught last week. I enjoyed it. I can’t quite remember a lot of it now. No matter, it was fun.There’ll be a new one next year.
If you’re new to Coben, I would recommend Tell No One which is a masterclass of a  thriller and the French movie adaptation is quite fantastic.

 

 

I went to a screening of it at the Queens Film Theatre in Belfast quite a few years ago and Coben was signing books afterwards. He was incredibly friendly and professional, asking names, getting opinions and taking time to talk to everyone . Maybe that’s why he’s so successful.

 
20 books castle

For anyone wanting to read along, my next book from 20 Books of Summer is We Have Always Lived at the Castle by Shirley Jackson.

 
Read On: iBooks
Number Read: 32
Number Remaining: 714

 

20 Books of Summer The 746

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Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

29 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for reviewing Coben. I knew nothing about him, but someone reviewed one of my books and likened my style to his. Until reading this I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing.

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  2. You’ve got me interested in seeing that movie now! Sounds good. 🙂

    I hope you enjoy We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I read it a couple of years ago and was a bit underwhelmed, but I think that’s because I went into it with high expectations of horror. It’s more creepy than anything else, if I’m remembering it right.

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    • I’m about a third of the way through and no, there is not much horror, but it is certainly creepy. I’m enjoying it a lot. Tell No One is a fantastic movie. If it come on telly I am always bound to watch to the end. I think it’s going to be remade in the U.S. but it will be hard to top.

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  3. Now you have me curious about this Coben guy who I’ve never heard of. Tell No One is going on my list! (How can I not know of someone who is so successful?)
    I’m looking forward to hearing about We Have Always Lived in a Castle- I haven’t read that one either.

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    • He writes such a specific type of thriller Naomi, I think it would be easy enough to pass him by if that’s not your thing. Every so often I think ‘I’d just love a couple of days with a Harlan Coben book’ and given that he writes one a year, there is usually one floating about to read! I have two more in the 746 I think, but it could be a year before I read another one.

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  4. Tell No One is the only one of his books I have read (on your recommendation, as I recall). I liked it a lot, but he sort of fell off my radar after that. I have `Caught`and will get to it right after `The Sense of an Ending“.

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  5. This is actually the only Harlan Coben book I’ve ever read. I don’t remember much about it or how I came to it, but now you’re reminding me of Tell No One. I’ve never seen it! It’s been on my to be watched list for ages. I better get cracking.

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  6. I wasn’t really aware of this guy, but then I’m not into thrillers so I guess I wouldn’t be. Tell No One though is a fantastic movie, so I’m duly impressed by him being the author of the original book.

    Anyway, nice review, you capture the nature of the novel really well and I have a definite feel for the appeal. How long is it? I enjoy this sort of book at 200 or so pages, at 400 or so I lose the will to live.

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  7. Again I completely agree with you about Coben. I always thoroughly enjoy his standalones – good old-fashioned adventure stories at heart really. But like you I tend to forget the details of the books pretty quickly. Doesn’t spoil my enjoyment of the next one though – in fact, perhaps it enhances it.

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