September 26, 2017 | Dutton
Thriller | Suspense | Crime
Nap (short for Napoleon) Dumas had a bright future. A star high school athlete, a good student, a beautiful girlfriend. Good colleges were looking at him, his life was waiting to start, and it was going to be a good life. He knew it.
And then it all fell apart. His twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend were found dead on nearby railroad tracks, and Nap’s beautiful girlfriend Maura broke up with him without giving a reason and vanished. All on the same night.
This dual tragedy veered Nap’s life in a different direction. Instead of college, he stayed home and went to the police academy, becoming a successful police officer in his New Jersey home town.
The next fifteen years Nap spends working, but quietly searches for the reason behind Leo’s death and Maura’s disappearance. Living a lonely life in his childhood home, he desperately searches for the reason behind these tragedies that changed his life.
When Maura’s fingerprints show up in connection to the murder of another classmate in Pennsylvania, it starts to look like he might get to the truth. But, as Nap’s investigation leads to more questions and uncertainty, he uncovers truths about his brother, his girlfriend, even the abandoned military base near his hometown, leading him down a much darker path than Nap ever could have could have imagined.
Before I start my review, can I tell you about something kind of amazing?! I’m AHEAD on my Goodreads Reading Challenge! I’m FOUR books ahead. I’m never ahead!
I owe this to audiobooks and revisiting my Stephen King favorites . . . because I couldn’t stop listening, I made it through more books than usual (especially during a time when my TBR pile was taking a hit).
But enough about my reading goals (I’m trying for 115 this year, btw). Let me tell you about Harlan Coben’s newest book, Don’t Let Go.
I was a little worried about halfway through Don’t Let Go. It seemed so fractured so many pieces everywhere – I was really kind of lost and slightly irritated. Like having a conversation with someone who has had too much coffee and needs to figure out God, politics, and aliens all at that moment.
I liked Nap a lot though (he’s a very flawed, very lost man doing his best to stay good), so I stuck with it.
Let’s just say the over-caffeinated feeling was resolved and everything started to come together long before the book was finished, and it was well worth sticking through to the end. I don’t mean the mystery was solved early (that’s a lot of twists) or that the suspense died down — just that the seeming bridges to nowhere started to connect with unseen land.
It all worked beautifully.
I’ve been a big fan of Coben’s for quite awhile. Although New Jersey has never been my home, my husband grew up there, in a town very like the ones in Coben’s books. Quiet, affluent without being ostentatious, a nice place to raise kids. I feel like I know his settings intimately.
Coben does the smart jock all grown up thing well, too. Like Nap Dumas. He’s a good guy, trying to do the right thing (although he’s caught in the past for reasons that have nothing to do with his past athletic victories). He’s a smart cop with good instincts, sometimes doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.
Quick aside: From my experience, his smart jocks are more common then the dumb jocks of jokes. Most of the best ‘jocks’ are not and never were dumb — they’re are smart, quick thinking, and have good instincts. Most that I know and have known grow up to have good jobs and do well for their communities.
Coben has a bit of a formula (smart jock often in some sort of investigative job, something painful from his past comes back to haunt him, he must confront it to solve the mystery and save those he loves), but he varies it well enough that his books are not formulaic.
I guess you could say Coben’s books are like a roller coaster — you know it’s going to be climbs and falls, maybe a few twists and turns, possibly you’ll roll upside down for a few seconds — but you pretty much know what you’re getting from a roller coaster. This doesn’t mean you don’t take the ride. It’s thrilling and exciting and tons of fun despite the familiarity.
This roller coaster-familiar makes him fun to read . Fast paced and interesting, with questions not easily answered. Don’t Let Go won’t challenge you as a reader, and that’s okay. It will take you on a really great ride.