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91 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Won't Have Any Time to Play Dead or Play Anything Else Once You've Started Reading, You Won't Want to Do Anything Else!
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...
Published on March 11, 2008 by James N Simpson

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50 of 63 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A convoluted, poorly written mess
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,...
Published on August 30, 2010 by Julia Flyte


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91 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Won't Have Any Time to Play Dead or Play Anything Else Once You've Started Reading, You Won't Want to Do Anything Else!, March 11, 2008
By 
James N Simpson (Gold Coast, QLD Australia) - See all my reviews
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. The two couldn't be more in love but when Laura returns from wrapping a distribution deal for Svengali's products with an Australian company she discovers that her husband has gone swimming. As the hours pass by he does not return. With the help of David's best friend T.C who happens to also be a Boston police officer David's battered body is discovered. The fairy tale is over! Fans around the world morn the loss of their superhero but things do not add up for Laura. David was a great swimmer and in love with her which dismisses the whole suicide angle the locals are hinting at. When his will is read his bank account mysteriously is not listed, when Laura makes enquiries she learns that he (or someone pretending to be David) recently before his disappearance transferred a large amount of wealth to a Swiss bank account. Everything doesn't add up and when David's gambling addicted deadbeat brother Stan decides to cash in on the death of his brother and Laura starts to get the message that her life and those around her are in danger if she doesn't drop the whole thing, Play Dead get a whole of a lot more interesting. Granted some of the mystery you will work out before it is revealed but since when aren't you supposed to do this with mystery stories, that's the point of them!

Harlan Coben set the bar for himself extremely high with his first novel Play Dead written way back in 1990. Those of us who have read his later stuff can testify that he has at least touched if not jumped over that bar with each of his later books. His Myron Bolitar series is excellent as are his stand alone thriller/mysteries. Check them all out if you haven't already done so!
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50 of 63 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A convoluted, poorly written mess, August 30, 2010
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Like the Author - Poorly Written, November 7, 2011
This review is from: Play Dead (Mass Market 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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30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars There is a reason why this book is out of print., August 16, 2007
By 
Bornintime (The East Coast) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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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25 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good for his first novel!, April 22, 2006
I've recently discovered Harlan Coben and have been just tearing through his books. He is really fantastic. I recently came across "Play Dead", his first novel, at the library. OK, it's not his best, but it was still quite a page-turner. It is great for a first novel, and it is also very nice to see how far Mr. Coben has come in his writing career. There are lots of suprises and they are all very fair.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Skip this one, November 26, 2011
This review is from: Play Dead (Mass Market Paperback)
What happened to Harlan after writing this one is for the better. This one stunk! Whew! Terrible read. Just read the other one and two star reviews and you'll get it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, June 13, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Play Dead (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read quite a few Harlan Coben books and this by far is my favorite. At the time of Coben's writing Play Dead (twenty years ago or so), I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as much as I do now. It is rich in detail and the technology needed to pull off this type of storyline is current and refreshing. I can't say much more about the story without giving too much away, but the difference between this book and his later works (although great)is startling. I thought Play Dead is one of the best books I've read in a very long time!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No way to treat your fans, November 12, 2010
By 
Kathleen (CHASKA, MN, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Play Dead (Mass Market Paperback)
Ok, we have the world's most beautiful supermodel (who also happens to have large boobs) married to a handsome Celtics superstar (who also happens to be a Rhodes Scholar)..........

I'm never going to finish this book. I bought it because I'm a Harlan Coben fan - I buy all his books. He's one of those authors I trust to give me a good read. Sadly, he seems to be cashing in on his success by selling this drivel to his loyal fans, like me, who buy anything he's written. Mr. Coben puts a disclaimer at the beginning of the book - what I don't understand is why a good writer would publish something that is so embarrassing it requires a disclaimer. Never again will I automatically purchase anything written by this author as it now seems evident that he is willing to take advantage of his audience in order to make a buck.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars There should have been a warning label on this one, July 13, 2012
By 
A. Wolfendon (Boston, MA USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Play Dead (Kindle Edition)
I am a big Coben fan and think he's about the most enjoyable thriller writer out there. I recently spotted Play Dead on the list of Kindle titles available. It slyly lists the publication date as 2010, so I thought, "Wow, how did I miss this one?" It doesn't mention that this is the date the Kindle version was published, but that the book itself is over 20 years old. Nor does it show the apology Coben wrote at the beginning of the newly published version. In that apology he basically tells you to make a better choice and that the book is a piece of crap. Which it is.

No, instead, you just pay your ten bucks (which is more than the book originally sold for in 1989) and start reading the book, thinking you've bought a recent Coben title. It doesn't take more than a page to realize how poorly and amateurishly written this book is. I'm amazed, frankly, that after Coben wrote a book this bad he decided to stay in the novel writing game. I'm glad he did. He's a terrific writer now and I love his books. But this one should have been left on some publisher's rejection pile. And Amazon/Kindle certainly should NOT be selling it to unsuspecting customers as if it is a legit Coben title. Please, Kindle folks, SHOW Coben's own disclaimer to any readers who might be tempted to buy this book and let them decide. Had I seen Coben's warning, I would not have bought this book. It reads like the work of a graduate student in a novel-writing course who's not even one of the top students in the class.

One could write a book on why this book is lousy, but that would be tiresome. Just be warned. I wish I had my ten bucks back to spend on one of Coben's newer works.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Big disappointment, November 16, 2011
This review is from: Play Dead (Mass Market Paperback)
Okay, I'd give it zero stars if that was an option. Love Harlan Coben's other books that I have read. This one should have stayed out of print. Characters don't feel real, plot twists make no sense (such as "Mark" trying out for the Celtics instead of some other team). Not worth your time unless you are an academic studying Coben's development as a writer.
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Play Dead
Play Dead by Harlan Coben (Mass Market Paperback - September 28, 2010)
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