WOW!! What A Story!!
I don't want to tell you too much because I don't want to spoil any of the suspense the builds throughout this book but here are the basics:
This is the story of high school senior, Haley McWaid, the pride of her family, good grades, never gets in trouble, a little obsessive compulsive who doesn't come home one night and goes missing.
It is also the story of Dan Mercer, a social worker, who works with troubled teens, who may be a sexual predator, as he is "CAUGHT" by a television show, hosted by Wendy Tynes who is on a mission to expose internet predators. It also delves into the lives of Dan's old college roommates and how they may have complicated Dan's life. The whole thing leaves Wendy worrying about who she can trust.
This story takes more twists and turns than an old country road and you better be belted in. It is a story filled with tension, stress, pressure, that challenges the reader. It is a thrilling, gripping, spine tingling novel that deals with things that could only be seen on television setting up shop in this community.
Harlan Coben takes all these plots and ties them together in what I believe will be the best book I read this year.
You will be "CAUGHT" from the first page and you will not be RELEASED even after the last word.
This is definitely not a book to me missed.
on April 28, 2010
I love Coben. He is one of my favorite writers. That's why it is so hard to dislike any of his books. But, unfortunately, try as I might, I simply can not like "Caught" or recommend it to anyone, including Coben fans.
The plot is one of those "ripped from the headlines" type. TV news show sets up pedophile for on camera arrest after doing the online meet thing. Really good premise and, initially, it takes some very interesting twists. It is the twists that does this book in. There is only so much "but wait, there's something else" that I can take even in mysteries/thrillers. And this book goes way past that limit. By the time you get to the end (and, frankly, I had to force myself to finish--something I would never have believed of a Harlan Coben book), the plot is so convoluted that it is hard to keep the players straight and then, finally, you just don't care.
In Coben's defense, he does a great job of making Wendy (the reporter and star of this book) a real person and, as I am a huge Myron Bolitar series fan, it was great to see Win worked into the plot as a minor character.
But, in the end, all the great characterizations does not save an overworked plot that wears thin long before the pages end.
I'm sorry to say this but skip "Caught" and catch one of Coben's older books for a good read.
on March 24, 2010
Coben has never written a truly disappointing novel, but his last few efforts--beginning with "The Woods"--veered away from the twist-a-minute storytelling that made his earlier novels so compelling. The twists and accelerated pacing were still there, but to a noticeably smaller degree, and long-time readers couldn't help but feel that they had been treated to two seperate Cobens: Pre-"The Woods" Coben and Post-"The Woods" Coben.
"Caught" is a definitely a return to form for this astonishing thriller writer. The twists are back, the characterizations are as well-drawn as in previous works, and Coben's trademark suburbanite slice-of-life ruminations are as poignant and spot-on as ever.
on February 13, 2011
I've read every one of Coben's books other than the Myron Bolitar series. He's in my top ten favorite authors and I scour new book listings for his latest so I can be among the first to read them. I've loved them all. However, I read this one to the end waiting for it to redeem itself, and was so relieved when it was over. There is a BIG difference between "building suspense" and forcing readers to wait and slog agonizingly through an excess of extraneous detail that does not move, and is not necessary to, the plot or development of central characters. If I recall correctly, it took until around chapter 29 before it began to pick up the pace. And I'm not one of those readers who slavers over "action books", so it's not a case of being impatient with a genuine requirement for a measured pace. This one looks like he wrote it in an earlier century...back when they paid by the page. (Remember trudging through Moby Dick?) I do hope this is not a trend for him.
on July 10, 2010
Caught by Coben is a really good book. Its hard to go into the plot here because of all the twists and turns it takes at the very end. Its a story that slowly builds to a satisfying climax.
The premise that this novel is created upon revolves around a missing high-school girl, a pedophile, and a reporter who outed the pedophile. Coben is good at creating a Hitchcock everyman character. A character like Cary Grant in North by Northwest or Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Knew Too Much. And were introduced to his typical everyman hero in the guise of Dan Mercer. Dan takes care of kids as a social worker and in the opening chapters he either was or was not set up as a pedophile caught by a news reporting team led by Wendy Tynes.
So my main beef with Caught is this. He gives us a character to root for with Dan Mercer. He gives us a character to despise with Wendy Tynes. But then Coben changes focus and concentrates on Tynes as the protagonist and Mercer is out of the picture. It took me a couple hundred pages to warm up to Tynes because of how Coben tore her apart right at the beginning. I dont think that as an author, Coben should have torn apart his protagonist like that. Readers, especially genre readers are drawn to likeable hero's. Wendy was NOT likeable to start with at least. And thus the story was at times difficult to slog through.
So, since I am not giving away the plot here, let me just finish by saying, this is a superior Coben effort (still waiting for the masterpiece). Its fun, its suspenseful, its a pretty damn interesting, and you'll be on the edge of your seat in anticipation of finding out what the heck is going on.
on July 18, 2010
This is my third Harlan Coben book. I enjoyed the others well enough to read a third, but Caught was, well frankly, just terrible. Coben starts out with a poorly disguised Nancy Grace character and tries to make her likeable. That didn't work. I actually read the whole book, hoping against hope that the ending would make it worth the effort. It didn't. I wanted to throw it against the wall. This story was contrived, boring, implausible, boring, annoying, boring, slow and, well, boring. Sorry to be so negative, but I just finished this and the ending was so bad it just made me mad, mad that I read the whole thing.
on August 2, 2010
Let me start by saying that I am a HUGE Harlan Coben fan. His books "Tell No One" and "The Woods" are some of the best suspense novels I've ever read, and Coben always has a twist at the end, so it was hard for me to give "Caught" one star, but I had to. This book is not the work I expect from Harlan Coben. The beginning was great - typcial Coben suspense, which I love - - but then it fell flat on its face. The story went in so many directions that I didn't know what he wanted the story to be about. You have Dan Wheeler, the social worker, accused of being a child predator; you have Wendy Tynes, the reporter, who nailed Wheeler as a predator on her TV show, and who has her own personal issues; you have four friends accused of things they supposedly didn't do, and you have a missing teenager. And the conclusion was dreadful! In fact, it was almost amateurish. It was like Coben was against the publisher's deadline, and he had to think of a quick conclusion. As I said in my title for this review - Did Coben write this book? Because this was not the quality work, with suspense throughout, and a twist at the end, that I expect from a Harlan Coben book. Hope he does better next time.
on March 24, 2010
This book seems to have been written by two different people. The first 2/3s is full of clunky writing and cliches, enough that I almost gave up. Some examples:
A hush fell over the room. Ten-A-Fly took off his sunglasses as if they'd angered him. His scowl aimed at intimidation but seemed more in the neighborhood of constipation.
Sussex County sheriff Mickey Walker loomed behind him like a solar eclipse.
or this snippet of dialogue:
Pops groused the entire way home. "I had that shawtry in the palm of my hand."
"Sorry." Then: "Shawtry?"
"I like to keep up on modern terms for chicks."
Apparently, an "erotic dancer" (read "stripper") named "Desire" (maybe not her real name) had given the story to a local newspaper.
Hey, thanks for those parenthetical explanations! You mean strippers use made-up names!? You're kidding me!
There's a short paragraph where the adjective "beloved" is used not once but twice. Have you ever said that word, short of reading a paid-for obituary in the local paper?
She dived under the car, using it as a shield. She had left the door unlocked.
[4 lines later]:
She fished into her pocket and got her car remote. She unlocked the door.
Whoops. Bad continuity there.
They were sprawled on the den furniture as only teenage boys can, as though they'd removed their skeletons, hung them in a nearby closet, and slid to a collapse against whatever upholstery was nearby.
There are so many things wrong with that sentence I don't know where to start.
Things change later in the book. Instead of reading like a fast first draft, the writing tightens up and serves the intriguing plot well. If the whole book had read this way, more stars.
on August 29, 2015
Over the past several months, I have read almost all of Coben's books -- one left to go. I was noticing that, the more I read, the more formulaic they seemed to become. With this book, I've about had it. It's EXACTLY like the last one (and others, as well): boy meets girl; they fall madly in "true, lifetime love, the only one", etc.; one goes inexplicably missing; other searching high and low for that one; many things happen along the way -- there always has to be some kind of violent torture by ultimate sadists; noble characters who (somehow) survive the unsurvivable; bad guys get killed; inexplicable events occur; then finally, shocking pieces of the impossible puzzle are solved -- and the last character you could ever imagine caused all of this confusion; then they (boy and girl) live happily ever after.
I have the next book. Do I want to bother reading it? I don't know. Probably will, and probably will be as disappointed with that book as with this one.
With that, I say a reluctant fond farewell to a formerly great mystery writer.
on September 23, 2013
I have liked most of Harlan Coben's novels, but I was,especially drawn to this one because it addresses the intensity & potentially hysterical reaction we have as a society when we hear the word "pedophile." Once accused, it seems that no proof is necessary & guilt is often assumed. This novel shows the damage of such knee-jerk reactions and how quickly an accused person's life can come unraveled. I like suspense novels that have a political perspective (like much of the Nordic noir genre), so this was satisfying for me.