Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Review of "Missing You" by Harlan Coben




When NYPD Detective Kat Donovan learns that Monte Leburne - the hitman convicted of killing her cop father 18 years ago - is dying, she visits him in prison. It's her last chance to get indisputable evidence about who ordered the hit. While in a drug-induced twilight state Leburne denies killing the policeman. He says he admitted to the crime because he was already on the hook for two other murders, so when he was asked to take the rap, he agreed. This startling information sets Kat off on a quest to discover the truth about her beloved dad's death.

Kat has other issues as well. The love of her life, Jeff Raynes, called off their enagagement soon after her father's death and Kat never got over it. In an attempt to kickstart Kat's love life her best friend Stacy signs Kat up for a dating website. When Kat peruses the site she sees the picture/profile of a man she thinks is Jeff, now apparently a widower with a child. But when Kat contacts Jeff she gets a discouraging response, hurting her all over again.

While Kat continues to look into her dad's murder, which antagonizes her superiors and the cops who originally investigated the crime - nineteen-year-old Brandon Phelps asks for her help. He claims his mother is missing after leaving for a romantic getaway with a man from a dating website. The cops are skeptical about Jeff's claims, however, because he's gotten text messages from his mom.

The reader (though not the cops) soon learns that Brandon's mother is indeed missing. She's being held by a group of murderous criminals who abduct wealthy people to force money out of them. Unfortunately for the bad guys one mob member made a serious error, which eventually puts Kat on the criminals' trail.

The book alternates between accounts of Kat's investigations and descriptions of the gang's activities, which are seriously stomach churning. Though mystery/thrillers often have story lines that are a little outlandish I think parts of this book strain credulity too much.

Interesting characters in the story include Kat's bosses - who try to discourage her inquiries into her dad's death; Kat's yoga teacher - who was a brilliant student before his nervous breakdown; Kat's friend Stacy - who's gorgeous and adept at warding off unwanted advances; Kat's mom - an alcoholic with two loyal, but quirky, friends; Titus - the cold-blooded leader of the abduction gang; Bo - a Labrador who likes to chase balls; and others.

Kat is a talented, capable detective who eventually resolves both cases. The book is a suspenseful page turner that has major twists, leads to a dramatic climax, and comes to a satisfactory conclusion.

One thing that irked me about the story is the adolescent behavior of too many male characters that come on to Kat and Stacy with childish, offensive pickup lines. I could hardly believe Harlen Coben penned these parts because they sound like they were written by a fifteen-year-old boy who thinks he's clever. And there's quite a bit of this stuff! (Some of Coben's best characters in other books, like Myron Bolitar and Win Lockwood, would never talk like this.)

Overall, I'd rate this as a pretty good book that would appeal to a lot of mystery fans. 
                      

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