A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent. No trace of the boys ever surfaced. For ten years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teenager. Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken? And most critically: What can he tell Myron and Win about the fate of his missing friend?
This was our book club pick for November and while we don’t usually choose a book from a series as our selection, we decided to give this a try since we all like Harlan Coben and always choose his spring new release as our April or May pick.
The story starts with a bang as Win has been summoned to London after receiving an anonymous email stating that one of the 2 kidnapped boys, Patrick, can be found at a certain location on a street in London. Win is very interested in this info because his cousin Rhys was the second boy kidnapped with Patrick ten years ago. Win is convinced if they find Patrick, they find Rhys. We learn pretty quickly that Win is a man of considerable means…financially and physically…and when he gets to the supposed location of Patrick things don’t really go as planned as he has to put his skills to work and the result leads to a messy predicament and him needing some help.
Now, I do feel like Harlan Coben provided sufficient detail about Win so for someone like me, who’s never read a book in this series, I felt that I had a clear picture of Win and his abilities. That being said, when things go wrong and he calls Myron for help and the two of them begin some serious back and forth banter, I felt like I was an outsider looking in because clearly there’s serious history between these two best friends. And I didn’t know any of it. Myron soon heads to London to help Win and they both end up in a heap more trouble than they expected.
In true Harlan Coben fashion, the pace is quick and the plot moves forward alternating between Myron’s narration and Win’s, although I think more so of Myron’s. At one point, when they’re back in the US, Myron is all of a sudden going to a high school basketball game after almost being killed in London which I thought was a somewhat odd turn of events. Turns out he was there to watch his nephew Mickey play and then enlist his help in trying to get info about the case. I’m not sure I completely bought into the necessity of his 16 year old nephew’s help. It kind of seemed a little too convenient after the story plays out.
As the hunt for Rhys continues and the questions surrounding the return of Patrick swirl, I have to say I really had no idea how it was all going to turn out. Coben does a great job of providing possible theories by having the characters following many different leads, some leading to more possibilities and some dead ends, but all creating more questions for the reader. Which is ultimately what I read a mystery for…to try to figure it all out and even convince myself I have, but then the final pieces fall into place and I realize I had it all wrong. I can tell you, the ending of this was a big surprise. We spent most of our book club discussion talking about the ending, some of us thought it was great, others questioned the plausibility of it. I was in the second group.
Overall, it was a good read and made for a fun book club discussion. I do think I would’ve enjoyed it more if I had been following the series and had already gotten to know the characters.