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Play Dead Paperback – September 28, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Terrible secrets lead basketball star David Baskin to fake his death while honeymooning in the tropics in this manipulative but otherwise engaging first novel. His bereaved bride, supermodel Laura Ayars, not sure that David's drowning was accidental, starts sleuthing--which proves dangerous when somebody begins killing people who may have the answers she wants. Meanwhile, David, fitted out with a new identity and appearance, tries out for his original team, the Boston Celtics, and "replaces" himself at his former position. Why he has faked his death is explained in the story's penultimate surprise. But why he risks playing in front of fans who know his style is never addressed. Crucial coincidences abound, such as the love affair of David's brother and Laura's sister--adults who, as kids 30 years before, just happen to have witnessed their parents' worst sins. Coben manufactures tension primarily by keeping key details out of his narrative, a method that eventually wears thin. The resolution comes as a relief, with less of a bang than its buildup promises.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

When Laura Ayers and David Baskin secretly marry, it is a match made in heaven. She is a former model turned entrepreneur, while he is the Boston Celtics basketball sensation. But tragedy strikes on their Australian honeymoon when David never returns from a swim in treacherous waters. As Laura struggles with her grief, events unfold to make her question David's mysterious disappearance. She begins to uncover a conspiracy of past and present that slowly destroys all those involved. Coben weaves a delicate web of intrigue that throws alternating suspicion on each person Laura trusts. A fast-moving thriller with a rapidly twisting plot that keeps readers in suspense until the final page. --Katherine Fitch, Jefferson Sci-Tech, Alexandria, VA
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451231740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451231741
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (248 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harlan Coben is the bestselling author of sixteen previous novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers "Long Lost" and "Hold Tight." Winner of the Edgar Award, the Shamus Award, and the Anthony Award, Coben lives in New Jersey with his family.






Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I didn't even know this book existed until recently as it along with his second novel Miracle Cure aren't mentioned in most of his later work, guess they had a different publisher or something. I have to say though I'm glad I discovered Coben's first novel Play Dead as it is just as enjoyable as his later work. Granted Play Dead's a bit far fetched in some parts and yes as you read at times you will say why didn't the character just do this instead of what they actually do but their actions do lead to a fast paced can't put down storyline. Also being that this is his first novel Coben obviously didn't have as high a quality editor as there's the odd typo such as Qantas with an added u after the q that appears on and off when that word is used. This in no way though detracts from the high quality storyline. You can also see glimpses of future storylines and their characters from those used in this book where Coben shows his knowledge of certain areas such as professional sports, especially his Myron Bolitar character who Coben will publish to the world five years later in that character's first adventure Deal Breaker.

So what was Coben's first novel about? Laura a beautiful retired (at the age of 23) supermodel now turned successful businesswoman has married the top sportsman in his chosen sport, Boston Celtics basketball plater David Baskin. To escape the pressures of her family they eloped to the northern Cairns beachside suburb (portrayed as a small town in this novel) Palm Cove.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Fletch on November 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am a fan of Harlan Coben and was excited the other day when I saw Play Dead for sale. I assumed that it was one of his newer novels that I had somehow missed. I excitedly purchased the book and could not wait to dive in.

I knew something was amiss when there was a note by the author on the first page saying: "Okay, if this is the first book of mine you're going to try, stop now. Return it."
I wish I had taken the advice and simply never have purchased it. I read the first 140 pages and stopped. Terrible writing, shallow characters and everyone has a (not too interesting) secret. The most beautiful super model in the world marries the NBA all-star who always wins every game on a last second shot. Really?

I felt like I was reading a book by a 16-year old version of the Harlan Coben. Not fit to print or read. Do not waste your time on this one.
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51 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is Harlan Coben's first book, which has been out of print for several years but was recently re-released. The author has written an introduction in which he essentially admits that it isn't up to the standard of his other books - and he's quite right. Play Dead is a convoluted, poorly written mess. The early chapters of this book were so bad that I almost gave up, but it does improve (slightly) and I was sufficiently curious about how the plot would resolve itself to stick it out until the end.

The story kicks off with Laura and David celebrating their honeymoon in Australia. She is a former supermodel who is now a highly successful businesswoman and he is an NBA superstar. David goes for a swim and doesn't return. A few days later a body is found and identified as David by his best friend. Laura is devastated, but as time passes she starts to suspect that his death wasn't a simple accident. From the outset it's clear that several friends and family members are keeping secrets and that at least some of them know more about David's disappearance than they are letting on.

It's pretty obvious to the reader from the word go that David's death is a cover up, but the why isn't revealed until quite late in the piece. Perhaps a better writer - an older Harlan Coben - could have held it all together, but the end result is far too drawn out, riddled with implausibilities and loose ends and just way too silly. I would advise you to avoid this one and to quote from Harlan's introduction: "Return it. Grab another (of his books). It's okay."
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35 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Bornintime VINE VOICE on August 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Wow. This book is really bad. I just had finished 2 recent books by Harlan Coben and figured I would read more of his work, starting with his first book Play Dead. I have no problem with a reasonable suspension of belief when it comes to enjoying a book but this is the most preposterous plot I have ever read. The main event that drives this whole story is so over the top ridiculous that it ruins the entire book. The rest of the plot is also based on an incredible number of coincidences. I almost gave this book 2 stars because there is a glimmer of the style that Coben has in his later work, but the ending was just so preposterous (and yet predictable!) I could not do it. I've noticed that, since Coben is now so popular, people are paying $30 for used copies of this book. I suggest you do what I did and borrow it from your library. Your joy at finding this rarity will only be exceeded by your joy in giving it back.
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