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on March 18, 2014
Harlan Coben stands atop the heap as one of the best known mystery and suspense writers in the business. His latest book, Missing You, is a gritty cop drama set against the backdrop of current headlines. Online dating has become all the rage, but it is just too easy to take the hopes and dreams of lonely people and turn them into a scam which ends up in murder. This is a hard-nosed, riveting story with so many twists and turns the reader might need a road map. Coben astounds with his parallel story lines and ties everything up in neat package in the end. Mystery and suspense at it's best!

What I liked:

Harlan Coben is a big name in mainstream mystery and thriller writing. His titles have seen a lot of attention and justifiably so. He writes with a kind of inner radar that hones in on the issues that readers already have on their minds. Current headlines and little things that just make you wonder are the themes of his books. His books feel real and they don't sugar coat the facts or the fiction about the subject.

Let's face it, the dating game has changed. Meeting someone online is no longer an unusual thing. It's common. And with it comes a lot of problems that dater's never had to think about before. "Is that picture really what he/she looks like?" "Does this person really have that job and live in that town?" "Is he or she married?" and unfortunately, "Could this guy/gal be after something more sinister than true love?" The online dating theme was spot on in this novel. Coben treats it like what it is... and everyday occurrence that could be fraught with a whole lot of danger. I thought his portrayal of the landscape of online dating was masterful. He pulls the reader into this world of conspiracy and murder and he doesn't let go. Amazing!

Kat Donovan is a woman after my own heart. She's been knocked around a little bit when it comes to love and she isn't sure she wants to get it right. She's tough, a little intimidating and set in her ways. Is is worth it, to lose her independence to some guy? But she still wishes she had someone to come home to. Those are the people that scammers prey on. The ones who have almost lost hope, but that little glimmer they can latch on to exists. I loved the way Coben wrote this no-nonsense character who was tough on the outside, but had a gentle heart within.

The twists and turns in this book were one right after the other. There were several parallel stories running at one time and reader is sifting back and fought between them wondering how they tie in throughout the book. But everything from an 18 year old murder case involving Kat's father, to a wayward ex-fiancee, to a teenagers worry about his mother's activities, ties in, in a big way. Coben has a way with working it all out and letting the puzzle pieces fall into place when the he nears the conclusion. I never feel disappointed and most of the time even if I have figured out what's going on, it's all about the journey. This was a great one, by a real master in the genre.

What I didn't like:

Big conspiracies and murder plots can be so convoluted and drawn out so far that they become impossible scenarios. I think this one may have gotten a little close to the line, but it didn't quite go over. It was plausible, if just so. But that didn't change the fact that it was an exciting and engrossing novel.

Bottom Line:

If you've never read a Harlan Coben I suggest you fix that as soon as possible. If you like the kind of book that makes your heart beat speed up and your palms sweat, this is it. Great ready, because it's a real thrill ride.
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NYPD cop Kat Donovan has a lot going on. And, so does this latest stand alone suspense thriller. Multiple plot lines converge into an interrelated set of mysteries with some very coincidental occurrences that require a large measure of suspension of disbelief.

Single and middle-aged, Kat was once in love with her soul mate Jeff Raynes. They were happily engaged when he abruptly broke off their relationship and vanished. She hasn't been able to find out a shred of information about him for the last 18 years. Her well-meaning friend Stacy, who owns a private investigation firm (Stacy is gorgeous of course whereas Kat is "cute and perky") sets up a profile for Kat on a dating website where, lo and behold, she finds Jeff! Now, what does she do? Long story.

In another plot thread, Kat is anguishing over the death of her cop father 18 years ago -- the self-confessed murderer is in prison. But Kat is not sure that Monte Leburne actually killed her father. Then, who did? Her dad was investigating a known mobster when he died but was prone to long absences from the family home for reasons he never explained to his wife and children. Kat's mother doesn't want to talk about any of that.

In yet another narrative line, evil Titus is locking men and women in underground boxes on a remote Amish farm in Pennsylvania. What does he want and how did he get them there?

And one more - Brandon Phelps, a teenage boy from a wealthy Connecticut family, asks Kat to investigate what seems to be his mother's suspicious activity as she went off on a tropical vacation to meet a man she met online.

No spoilers here -- but it all sort of comes together in exactly the way a reader will imagine and predict by the time all the players are introduced. There was actually one surprise, but the rest of this story was a cliche for anyone who reads this genre.

Fast-paced and full of the usual completely stereotypical characters, enjoy this for what it is - escapist entertainment.

I've read every Coben book except for those in the Bolitar series. He's hit and miss for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Dutton for the e-book ARC to review.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 13, 2014
In "Missing You" Harlan Coben returns to a similar theme to his ultra successful "Six Years" - enduring love despite being jilted. This time it is 18 years since NYPD Detective Kat Donavan was left inexplicably by her fiancé Jeff who she thought would be her soul-mate for life. Jeff also disappeared completey out of her life and she doesn't know where he is. This happened about the same time as her beloved father, also an NYPD cop, was murdered in the line of duty.

Kat has not got over either event and has never married. One day her best friend, Stacey, gives her a most unusual present - a subscription to an on-line dating service with the message "You need someone. You want someone". With some hesitation Kat decides to have a quick browse through the site for potential dates and her world explodes when she sees a picture of Jeff staring back at her. His bio says that he is widowed with a daughter. Kat plucks up courage to send him an anonymous message that he will understand - a link to a video of their favourite song. She finds it disturbing and weird that Jeff doesn't recognise the song.

At around the same time Kat has a final near deathbed interview with her father's convicted killer, now dying of cancer while still on death row, and believes his confession that while he is guilty of other murders he was set up to take the rap for her father's murder.

Coben then takes us on a switchback of ups and downs and twists and turns as Kat follows up her father's murder, and tries to track down Jeff. She is also dragged into a case of multiple disappearances of people associated with on-line dating.. She becomes enveloped by a huge dark and dangerous envelope as she chases down these disappearances and tries to find the truth about what happened to the two big loves of her life who are "gone but not forgotten".

As usual Coben continues to display his skills at unfolding several apparently unconnected mysteries without providing all the clues until near the very end. This time Coben has used his author's licence to create some pretty unbelievable conspiracies and introduces some dangerous and violent sociopaths who prey on and torture lonely wealthy people. He ties these plots together with a couple of shattering climaxes.

IMHO "Missing You" is not as good as "Six Years" mainly because it may have crossed my line in the sand for for implausibility for these kind of suspense thrillers. Nevertheless it is a page-turning top class thriller that will undoubtedly be devoured and enjoyed by most of Coben's many fans. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars because I know that many fans don't have as firm a line in the sand as I do.

My thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for an honest review.
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on April 8, 2014
This book actually has a decent plot and does step up in the second half but overall, especially with Six Years and now with this one, Coben needs to decide if he really wants to write Harlequin romances and if so, stop just dabbling in it. The emotional content is way too high and ending twist is at least one too many. My suspension of belief was breached irreparably.
Coben has written some very fine stand-alones albeit the audio book version of one of them was ruined because he narrated it himself but given the really fine work he is capable of, these last two have been a disappointment.
Maybe it is a disease --- Baldacci went all Sylvia Brown in the Lighthouse one. A good editor should have given him the word --- too kitschy, too touchy-feely. Way too many over the emotional top metaphors.
One of Newt Gingrich's old confidants said Newt was absolutely brilliant but that he ran off the rails because he got rid of the one guy on his staff who had the hutzpah to tell him when he was full of it. Coben needs a new editor to tell him when he runs off the rails.
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on March 27, 2014
I really love all of Harlan Coben's books - but not this one. I could not get engaged with the story. Too slow of a start.
It was tried and true type of a plot - been there done that. Disappointed with this one....but I will still keep reading his books.
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on April 9, 2014
This is my first one star review ever on Amazon. Apparently Harlan has 330 good friends that stand behind him enough to give him a 5 star even though it is totally overrated. One of the most unbelievable of all of Coben's book with poor character development. He actually tries to be politically correct in handling homosexual/transgender themes but does it in such a trite way it backfires on him. Good novels can instill solid truths and philosophy to make you think thought some big issues. This book seems to be going out of its way to convince you that people with firm beliefs and convictions are old fashioned and judgmental. Missing You should be retitled, Missing Realty - Harlan, please learn your lesson and bring back Myron and Win.
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on June 22, 2014
This has to be one of the worst books I have read in a long time. The supposed focus - Titus and his despicable scheme - only serves as a back story to a ridiculous long lost love narrative more suited to the pages of Mills & Boon!

The writing is downright awful in parts, the slang is so bad as to be almost funny and the grammatical errors really did make me cringe.
The "plot" is weak and the ending is just so dreadfully bad that I cannot find a way to describe it properly.
Seriously disappointed.
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on April 6, 2014
Harlan Coben is, by far, my favorite modern day author. I look forward to his latest release like a child waiting for Christmas. So, you know disappointed I must have been if I'm rating his book with only one star. 'Missing You' was dreadful. Skip this one, and hope for better in the future.
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on April 25, 2014
I’ve enjoyed a number of Harlan Coben’s novels, but this one is a total failure.

I almost didn’t get past the gag-worthy opening scene in which the main character sits in a bar “on her father’s old stool,” wanting “to feel her father’s presence,” even as her efforts are interrupted by a cartoon lecher wielding the cheesiest pickup lines imaginable.

And the book didn’t improve much from there. The characters are cardboard, their actions and reactions implausible, and their dialogue just plain awful. The writing is often painfully bad, as witness a reference to “getting a woman in the sackola.” (Does anyone EVER actually talk like that?!) In several places, common words were misspelled because Coben apparently used a phrase without understanding its meaning. (For example: referring to an ordeal as being “put through the ringer,” to anticipation as “waiting with baited breath,” and to a potential purchaser as a “perspective buyer.”)

The worst part of the book, however, is the plot, which centers around the pitfalls of online dating. I don’t want to include a spoiler, so I will just say that readers are expected to believe that numerous intelligent adults place themselves in serious danger by their own incomprehensibly boneheaded actions. It’s hard to care what happens to people that dumb.
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on April 1, 2014
Quite awhile since I read a Harlan Coben mystery but this one had such good press! Good press but no editing? Men who talk to women as though they were in a time warp? Slang from the same time warp? "Sackola"? Did anyone ever say the word "sackola"? A character with "baited breath"? Really! "Baited" with a worm? a herring? A woman who supposedly lives in NYC (on the UWS no less) and thinks SCOOP is an ice cream store? Finally found out the one great drawback to reading on a kindle.....one is reluctant to throw it across the room!
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