Sunday, April 16, 2017

Review of "Caught" by Harlan Coben


Wendy Tynes is a television journalist for the program 'Caught in the Act', a show that lures in and exposes child predators. Dan Mercer, a divorced Princeton graduate who coaches troubled kids, is ensnared by Wendy's machinations and accused of targeting a young girl. However, the evidence is compromised and a judge lets Mercer off.

This infuriates Ed Grayson - whose son was abused - and he shoots and kills Mercer right in front of Wendy. However Grayson is a former U.S. Marshall - and a very clever guy - who gets rid of the body, obfuscates the evidence, and hires top-notch criminal defense attorney Hester Crimstein. Thus, it looks like Grayson can't even be brought to trial. And even if he could be, the jury would more likely congratulate him than convict him.

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old high school girl named Haley McWaid has been missing for three months.....and new evidence points to Mercer (now dead) as the possible abductor.

There's a problem though. Wendy's been re-examining the evidence that Mercer was a pedophile and - in retrospect - it looks inconclusive. Hence, Wendy fears she may have 'outed' an innocent man.....and indirectly got him killed. Moreover, Wendy's not positive Mercer was involved in Haley's disappearance either.

Wendy's guilty conscience leads her to delve into Mercer's life, going all the way back to his years at Princeton. And lo and behold, Wendy discovers that something bad happened at the Ivy League University a couple of decades back.....something that might be connected to what's occurring now.

As Wendy's trying to uncover the truth she interviews Mercer's family and friends, some of whom have lost lucrative jobs because of the economy. One of Mercer's unemployed buddies - who's fashioned himself into a rapper called Tenafly - provides some comic relief from the darker parts of the story.

Wendy's investigation, helped by playboy/tycoon Windsor Horne Lockwood III (Win)- eventually leads her to the truth.....which is quite twisty and surprising.

Two themes in the book are revenge and forgiveness. Terrible wrongs have been done to some characters, and the issue of whether to forgive or not arises several times. To me the forgiveness motif didn't meld smoothly into the story and felt awkward.

All in all I liked the book pretty well, and it was fun to see Hester Crimstein and Win - who are recurring characters in Coben's books. I think most mystery fans would enjoy 'Caught' and recommend the book to them.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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