Don’t Let Go – Harlan Coben
--reviewed by Divya Dubey
[Published in India Today mag, Jan 11, 2018: https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/leisure/story/20180122-harlan-cobens-novel-dont-let-go-1144141-2018-01-11]
Harlan Coben is an American crime fiction and thriller writer whose last ten novels seized the first spot on the New York Times bestseller lists. He was also the ‘first ever author to win all three major crime writing awards in the US’. Translated into 43 languages his books keep appearing on all major bestseller lists around the world. His latest release, Don’t Let Go, is already a Global Number One Bestseller.
Needless to say Coben is a master at crime fiction and knows exactly what he is doing. Don’t Let Go is a stand-alone novel and a great page-turner. The story revolves around Napoleon Dumas or Nap, a cop, who is determined to resolve the mystery of his twin brother’s death fifteen years ago. Leo and his girlfriend Diana were found at the railway tracks one night, struck dead by a train engine. Most people believe that the teenagers were drunk or stoned, trying some bravado at the tracks. Some others believe it was a suicide pact between the lovers. Nap is unconvinced by either explanation.
When two police officers appear at Nap’s door with the news that the fingerprints of his ex-girlfriend from fifteen years ago, Maura Wells, have been found at the site of a murder of another colleague, Rex Canton, Nap is forced into action again. Maura Wells disappeared on the night his twin and the twin’s girlfriend were killed. Helping Nap is his dear friend from school, Ellie, and his mentor, Diana’s father, Augie – another cop.
Somewhat like the characters in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, most of Nap’s school friends grow up in the same neighbourhood and stay on to make their lives. Few leave for greener pastures far off. In fact it is Ellie who suggests that Leo and Diana’s killing could be connected to a secret club – the Conspiracy Club – the teenagers used to be a part of along with four other friends including Maura.
Nap is an exceptionally interesting protagonist and very self-aware. `A la Sherlock, he is only a halfhearted sociopath and does take pains to appear friendly enough to his immediate neighbours. A part-time vigilante who doesn’t mind beating up bad guys and breaking their legs on the sly, he is also ready to pay the price if he is caught. The reader thus knows that he will go any length to get what he wants. Strangely, he is also a character most readers will probably identify and empathize with quite easily.
The prologue sets the pace of the entire book. Unexpected twists keep the reader hooked. Suspense rules every page. Coben makes sure that the reader will finish the book in one sitting.
Divya Dubey is the publisher of Earthen Lamp Journal, the Editor/Instructor at Authorz Coracle, and the author of Turtle Dove: A Collection of Bizarre Tales.