Harlan Coben, 1962-

Large print - 2016

When one of two boys kidnapped from their wealthy families resurfaces a decade later, the young survivor is observed by Myron Bolitar and his friend Win, who endeavor to discover the fate of the other missing boy.

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Suspense fiction
[New York] : Random House Large Print [2016]
Main Author
Harlan Coben, 1962- (author)
First large print edition
Physical Description
452 pages (large print) ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

KARIN FOSSUM may be the most unsentimental crime novelist since Ruth Rendell's alter ego, Barbara Vine. On the very first page of HELL FIRE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24), a young mother and her 4-year-old son lie dead of multiple stab wounds in the ramshackle little trailer in the Norwegian woods where they had spent the night. Not far into the story, we're introduced to a character who, we'll very soon deduce, is almost certainly the killer. Surprisingly, anticipating the ending doesn't destroy the suspense; in fact, imagining the horror that awaits actually increases our sense of dread. Lacking the reader's omniscience, Inspector Konrad Sejer must painstakingly piece together the lives of the victims by questioning anyone who might have information about this ghastly crime. Sejer is a thoughtful interviewer, "but he was a serious man and sometimes prone to deep melancholy," so it's inevitable that the more this sensitive detective learns, the more depressed he gets. (At least he's not morbid, like the police pathologist who keeps a pinup photo of the deceased Marilyn Monroe, her face "puffy and formless," hanging in the morgue.) The dead woman, Bonnie Hayden, had no intention of becoming a single mother, but when her husband left her for a younger woman she was forced to put their son, Simon, in day care and become a home health aide. Her elderly clients could be difficult, demanding and sometimes quite mean, like cranky old Erna, who worked her like a dray horse. But they're all in mourning at the unusually well-attended funeral, which comforts Inspector Sejer as much as it saddens him. Another parental bond figures in a parallel plot about a mother's boundless love and a son's obsessive need to find his errant father - or at least his grave. Fossum writes with as much compassion about Thomasine and Eddie Malthe as she does about Bonnie and Simon. But in Kari Dickson's translation there's always something dark hovering on the edge of the page, something about getting what you wish for and the crushing irony when that gift proves your undoing. HARLAN COBEN MUST have been reading Dickens while he was writing HOME (Dutton, $28), in which a flamboyant villain known as Fat Gandhi houses the "workers" in his child prostitution ring in the basement of an entertainment arcade called AdventureLand. Coben's goodguy hero, Myron Bolitar, runs afoul of this nasty piece of work when he answers the call of his best bud, Win Lockwood, who has spotted a missing American boy in London among the young hustlers working the stroll under the King's Cross overpass. Myron may be the one with the hero complex and Win the one with the killer instincts ("I am good with a straight razor"), but when Patrick Moore disappeared 10 years earlier, the kidnappers also took Win's 6-year-old cousin - and family is family. Fans of this popular series, which has been on hiatus for five years (since the publication of "Live Wire"), know the drill: You grab the plot thread and hang on for dear life while Coben yanks it into a noose. Promises are also made of "death and destruction and mayhem" and duly delivered in terrific action scenes, including a wild escape through the tunnel beneath Fat Gandhi's empire. Fun is fun, but the lasting appeal of this series lies in Coben's sympathy for ordinary people who do desperate things when they're swept up in circumstances they can't control. LESS THAN A MONTH before World War I comes to an end, Bess Crawford is shot by a German sniper who didn't notice that she was tending to a wounded soldier. In THE SHATTERED TREE (Morrow/HarperCollins, $25.99), Charles Todd's heroic battlefield nurse is shipped off to a hospital in Rouen, but once she's on the mend her thoughts keep turning to one of her patients, a soldier who wore a French uniform but spoke flawless German when he cried out in pain. Although she's meant to be convalescing, Bess finds ways to carry on her search for this mysterious man, whose snapshot so distresses a nun that she calls him "a monster." As always in this immensely satisfying series, Todd heightens the mystery by setting it within a war-shattered world of battered villages, barren farms and broken people. IF EVER A novel should be read with a friend, Sharon Bolton's DAISY IN CHAINS (Minotaur, $25.99) would be it. (You really don't want to face that mind-blowing ending alone.) Serial killers are meant to be creepy, but Hamish Wolfe, the handsome surgeon convicted of murdering four grossly overweight women, is so charismatic he has legions of female fans. Maggie Rose, a well-known attorney and author, isn't one of them. But Hamish's mother is so sure of his innocence she convinces Maggie to begin researching a book that's meant to exonerate him. Even in rough draft form, it's better written than the dodgy articles and blog posts woven into this twisted plot. Fat-shaming is a real issue. "We associate good looks with goodness," Maggie says. "We just do." Our infatuation with vicious criminals also has consequences. Bolton views her psychologically complex characters with such unsettling insight, it's hard to evade certain cold truths - and harder yet not to wince.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [September 29, 2016]
Review by Booklist Review

It's been awhile since we've seen Myron Bolitar in his own story (Live Wire, 2011), though he's continued to appear in Coben's YA series featuring Bolitar's nephew. Technically, this isn't really Myron's story; he's here helping out his mysterious and rakish best friend, Win, whose young nephew, Rhys, was kidnapped 10 years ago, along with a neighbor boy. Win has been determined to bring the boys home ever since. When he gets a strange message telling him that the boys have been spotted in London, Win enlists Myron to get to the bottom of things. But nothing is as it seems; things get quite grisly; and there are plenty of red herrings along the way to the neat (too neat?) conclusion. Series fans will be happy to see Myron, Win, Esperanza, and other recurring characters, but those new to the Bolitar books may find their interplay distracting from the action. Still, given the size of Coben's audience, this one is sure to be popular. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With five years since the last Bolitar novel, expect holds.--Vnuk, Rebecca Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Edgar-winner Coben's action-packed 11th thriller featuring sports agent Myron Bolitar (after 2011's Live Wire) blends family drama with a twisty plot. Six-year-old Patrick Moore and his classmate Rhys Baldwin are abducted from Rhys's New Jersey home in the middle of the day by two men who leave the Baldwins' Finnish au pair tied up in the basement. After a ransom is dropped off but not retrieved, the parents of Patrick and Rhys spend a decade without any leads as to their children's whereabouts, until Win Lockwood, Rhys's first cousin once removed, gets a tip that takes him to London, where he sees someone resembling Patrick being roughed up by three toughs. Win, whose dapper attire conceals the skills of a trained assassin, dispatches the assailants with ease, but he loses track of the teenager. Myron, Win's best friend, agrees to help him in his search, which ultimately ends with a reveal that few, if any, will anticipate. This page-turner is sure to please Coben's many fans. 5-city author tour. Agent: Lisa Erbach Vance, Aaron Priest Literary Agency. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review by Library Journal Review

Coben adds to his highly successful series with a ten-year-old cold case kidnapping that involves a familiar cast of characters-Win Lockwood, nephew Mickey, Big Cindy, and Esperanza-and this one has a personal connection. One of the missing boys, kidnapped at age six, was Win's nephew. The anonymous email that gets this story moving takes Myron and friends into a world of teenage prostitution and two families whose world once again is ripped open by the possibility of either reunion or closure. Steven Weber brings the audiobook alive by capturing the nuances of the author's humor, irony, and suspense. VERDICT A novel with the right number of twists, highly recommended for mystery and thriller audiences both familiar with and new to Coben. ["This engaging mystery is full of quirky characters...and features several surprises. A treat for fans of the Myron Bolitar books and readers looking for a quick, exciting thriller": LJ Xpress Reviews 9/2/2016 review of the Dutton hc.]-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Ten years after a pair of 6-year-olds vanish from a suburban New Jersey home, one of them is spotted in London. But what about the other?Following an unlikely tip, Windsor Horne Lockwood III spots a boy hes sure is his missing cousin Rhys Baldwins friend Patrick Moore working a rough-trade corner of Londons Kings Cross Station. Their potential reunion is disrupted by a trio of menacing toughs, and by the time Win looks up, the boy has taken off. But Win, whose stacks of old money have still left him powerless to track down Patrick and Rhys for a decade, isnt about to give up now. He phones an old buddy back in the U.S., sports agentturned-detective Myron Bolitar (Live Wire, 2011), yanks him away from his fiancee, Terese Collins, once more, and jets him to London. Their inquiries lead the pair to a gamer called Fat Gandhi, who demands 100,000 pounds for each of the boysa discount price, considering that the million-dollar ransom Rhys father, hedge fund manager Chick Baldwin, dropped off 10 years ago led nowhere. Following an unexpectedly crooked road, Myron and Win eventually flush out Patrick again, and his now-divorced parents instantly spirit him back home. Their rejoicing is muted, though, by the continued absence of Rhys, which Chick and his wife, Brooke, feel all the more keenly because the Moores erect a protective wall of silence around Patrick. Even when Myrons nephew Mickey and his goth girlfriend, Ema Wyatt, figure out a way to get him to open up, he has nothing to add to the Finnish au pairs tale of the kidnapping. Is it possible the rescued boy isnt even Patrick?Coben, who normally has few rivals at keeping the pot boiling (Fool Me Once, 2016, etc.), this time settles for a simmer until unleashing his trademark twists late in the proceedings. This one is for fans with even more patience than the parents of those kidnapped boys. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** Copyright © 2016 Harlan Coben Chapter 1 The boy who has been missing for ten years steps into the light. I am not one for hysterics or even feeling much of what might be labeled astonishment. I have seen much in my forty-plus years. I have nearly been killed--and I have killed. I have seen depravity that most would find difficult, if not downright inconceivable, to comprehend--and some would argue that I have administered the same. I have learned over the years to control my emotions and, more important, my reactions during stressful, volatile situations. I may strike quickly and violently, but I do nothing without a certain level of deliberation and purpose. These qualities, if you will, have saved me and those who matter to me time and time again. Yet I confess that when I first see the boy--well, he is a teenager now, isn't he?--I can feel my pulse race. A thrumming sound echoes in my ears. Without conscious thought, my hands form two fists. Ten years--and now fifty yards, no more, separate me from the missing boy. Patrick Moore--that is the boy's name--leans against the graffiti-littered concrete support of the underpass. His shoulders are hunched. His eyes dart about before settling on the cracked pavement in front of him. His hair is closely cropped, what we used to call a crew cut. Two other teenage boys also mill about the underpass. One smokes a cigarette with so much gusto I fear the cigarette has offended him. The other wears a studded dog collar and mesh shirt, proclaiming his current profession in the most obvious of uniforms. Above, the cars roar past, oblivious to what is below them. We are in King's Cross, most of which has been "rejuvenated" over the past two decades with museums and libraries and the Eurostar and even a plaque for Platform 9¾, where Harry Potter boarded the train for Hogwarts. Much of the so-called undesirable element have fled these dangerous in-person transactions for the relative safety of online commerce--much less need for the risky drive-by sex trade, yet another positive by-product of the Internet--but if you go to the other side of the literal and figurative tracks, away from those shiny new towers, there are still places where the sleaze element survives in a concentrated form. That is where I found the missing boy. Part of me--the rash part I keep at bay--wants to sprint across the street and grab the boy. He would now be, if this is indeed Patrick and not a look-alike or mistake on my part, sixteen years old. From this distance, that looks about right to me. Ten years ago--you can do the math and calculate how young he'd been--in the über-affluent community of Alpine, Patrick had been on what they insist on calling a "playdate" with my cousin's son Rhys. That, of course, is my dilemma. If I grab Patrick now, just run across the street and snatch him, what would become of Rhys? I have one of the missing boys in sight, but I had come to rescue both. So that means taking care. No sudden moves. I must be patient. Whatever had happened ten years ago, whatever cruel twist of mankind (I don't believe so much in fate being cruel when the culprit is usually our fellow human beings) had taken this boy from the opulence of his stone mansion to this filthy toilet of an underpass, I worry now that if I make the wrong move, one or both boys might disappear again, this time forever. I will have to wait for Rhys. I will wait for Rhys and then I will grab both boys and bring them home. Two questions have probably crossed your mind. The first: How can I be so confident that once the boys are in sight, I will be able to grab them both? Suppose, you may wonder, the boys have been brainwashed and resist. Suppose their kidnappers or whoever holds the keys to their freedom are many and violent and determined. To that I reply: Don't worry about it. The second question, which is far more pressing in my mind: What if Rhys does not show up? I am not much of a "crossing that bridge when we get there" sort of fellow, so I hatch a backup plan, which involves staking out this area and then following Patrick at a discreet distance. I am planning exactly how that might work when something goes wrong. The trade is picking up. Life is about categorization. This street urinal is no different. One underpass catered to heterosexual men seeking female companionship. This underpass is the busiest. Old-fashioned values, I suppose. You can talk all you want about genders and preferences and kinks, but the majority of the sexually frustrated are still heterosexual men not getting enough. Old-school. Girls with dead eyes take their spots against the concrete barriers, cars drive by, girls drive off, other girls take their places. It is almost like watching a soda-machine dispenser at a petrol station. In the second underpass, there is a small contingency of transgender or cross-dressing women of various alterations and stages, and then, at the tail end, where Patrick is now standing, is the young gay trade. I watch as a man in a melon-hued shirt struts toward Patrick. What, I had wondered when Patrick first appeared, would I do if a client chose to engage Patrick's services? At first blush, it would seem that it would be best that I intercede immediately. That would appear to be the most humane act on my part, but again, I could not lose sight of my goal: bringing both boys home. The truth was, Patrick and Rhys had been gone for a decade. They had been through God knows what, and while I didn't relish the idea of allowing either to suffer through even one more abuse, I had already added up the pros and cons and made my decision. There is no use in lingering on that point anymore. But Melon Shirt is not a client. I know that immediately. Clients do not strut with such confidence. They don't keep their heads up high. They do not smirk. They do not wear bright melon shirts. Clients who are desperate enough to come here to satisfy their urges feel shame or fear discovery or, most likely, both. Melon Shirt, on the other hand, has the walk and bearing and crackle of someone who is comfortable and dangerous. You can, if you are attuned to it, sense such things. You can feel it in your lizard brain, a primitive, inner, warning trill that you cannot quite explain. Modern man, more afraid of embarrassment sometimes than safety, often ignores it at his own peril. Melon Shirt glances behind him. Two other men are on the scene now, working Melon's flanks. They are both very large, decked out in full camouflage fatigues, and wear what we used to call wife beaters over shiny pectorals. The other boys working the underpass--the smoker and the one with the stud collar--run off at the sight of Melon Shirt, leaving Patrick alone with the three newcomers. Oh, this is not good. Patrick still has his eyes down, his quasi-shaved head gleaming. He is not aware of the approaching men until Melon Shirt is nearly on top of him. I move closer. In all likelihood, Patrick has been on the streets for some time. I think about that for a moment, about what his life must have been like, snatched from the comforting bubble of American suburbia and dumped into . . . well, who knew what? But in all that time, Patrick might have developed certain skills. He might be able to talk his way out of this situation. The situation might not be as dire as it appears. I need to wait and see. Melon Shirt gets right up in Patrick's face. He says something to him. I can't hear what. Then, without additional preamble, he rears back his fist and slams it like a sledgehammer into Patrick's solar plexus. Patrick collapses to the ground, gasping for air. The two camouflaged bodybuilders start to close in. I move fast now.  "Gentlemen," I call out. Melon Shirt and both Camouflages spin at the sound of my voice. At first, their expressions are those of Neanderthal men hearing a strange noise for the first time. Then they take me in, narrowing their eyes. I can see the smiles come to their lips. I am not a physically imposing figure. I am above-average height and on the slight side, you'd say, with blond-heading-toward-gray hair, a skin tone that runs from porcelain in the warmth to ruddy in the cold, and features that some might consider delicate in, I hope, a handsome way. Today I'm wearing a light-blue Savile Row hand-tailored suit, Lilly Pulitzer tie, Hermès pocket square in the breast pocket, and Bedfordshire bespoke shoes custom made from G.J. Cleverley's lead craftsman on Old Bond Street. I am quite the dandy, aren't I? As I saunter toward the three thugs, wishing I had an umbrella to twirl for maximum effect, I can feel their confidence growing. I like that. Normally I carry a handgun, often two, but in England, the laws are very strict about such things. I'm not worried. The beauty of the strict British laws means that it is highly unlikely that my three adversaries are carrying either. My eyes do a quick three-body scan for locations where one might conceal a gun. My thugs favor extraordinarily tight attire, more suitable for preening than weapon concealment. They might be carrying knives--they probably are--but there are no guns. Knives do not worry me much. Patrick--if it is indeed Patrick--is still on the ground gasping for air as I make my arrival. I stop, spread my arms, and offer them my most winning smile. The three thugs stare at me as though I am a museum piece that they can't comprehend. Melon Shirt takes one step toward me. "Who the fuck are you?" I am still smiling. "You should leave now." Melon Shirt looks at Camouflage One on my right. Then he looks at Camouflage Two to my left. I look in both directions too and then back at Melon Shirt. When I wink at him, his eyebrows jump high. "We should cut him up," Camouflage One says. "Cut him into little pieces." I feign being startled and turn toward him. "Oh my, I didn't see you there." "What?" "In those camouflage pants. You really blend in. By the way, they are very fetching on you." "Are you some kind of wiseguy?" "I'm many kinds of wiseguy." All the smiles, including mine, grow. They start toward me. I can try to talk my way out of this, perhaps offer them money to leave us be, but I don't think that will work for three reasons. One, these thugs will want all my money and my watch and whatever else they can find upon my person. Money offers will not help. Two, they all have the scent of blood-- easy, weak blood--and they like that scent. And three, most important, I like the scent of blood too. It has been too long. I try not to smile as they start to make their approach. Melon Shirt takes out a large bowie knife. That pleases me. I don't have many moral qualms about hurting those whom I recognize as evil. But it is nice to know that for those who require such self- rationalizations to find me "likable," I could claim that the thugs were the first to draw a weapon and thus I was acting strictly in self-defense. Still, I give them one last out. I look Melon Shirt straight in the eye and say, "You should leave now." Both overmuscled Camouflages laugh at that, but Melon Shirt's smile starts to fade. He knows. I can see. He looked in my eyes and he knows. The rest happens in seconds. Camouflage One comes right up to me, getting in my personal space. He is a large man. I am face-to-face with his waxed and toned pectorals. He smiles down at me as though I am a tasty treat he might devour in one bite. There is no reason to delay the inevitable. I slash his throat with the razor I'd kept hidden in my hand. Blood sprays at me in a near perfect arc. Damn. This will require another visit to Savile Row. "Terence!" It's Camouflage Two. There was a resemblance and, now sliding toward him, I wonder whether they were brothers. The thug's grief stuns him enough to make disposing of him very easy, though I don't think it would have helped much had he been better prepared. I am good with a straight razor. Camouflage Two perishes in the same manner as dear Terence, his possible brother. That leaves Melon Shirt, their beloved leader, who has probably attained that rank by being somewhat more brutish and cunning than his fallen comrades. Wisely, Melon Shirt had already started to make his move while I was dispensing with Camouflage Two. Using my peripheral vision, I can see the glint of his bowie blade heading toward me from above. That is a mistake on his part. You don't strike a foe from above like that. It's too easy to defend. Your adversary can buy time by ducking or a raising a forearm for the purpose of deflection. If you shoot someone with a gun, you are trained to aim for the middle mass so that if your aim is slightly askew, you can still hit something. You prepare for the likelihood of error. With a knife, the same is true. Make the distance of your stab as short as possible. Aim for the middle so that if your adversary moves, you can still wound him. Melon Shirt didn't do that. I duck and use my right forearm to, as noted above, deflect the blow. Then, with my knees bent, I spin and use the razor across his abdomen. I don't wait to see his reaction. I move up and finish him in the same manner as I had the other two. As I said, it is over in seconds. The cracked pavement is a crimson mess and getting messier. I give myself a second, no more, to relish the high. You would too, if you didn't pretend otherwise. I turn toward Patrick. But he is gone. I look left, then right. There he is, nearly out of sight. I hurry after him, but I can see very quickly it will be useless. He is heading toward King's Cross station, one of London's busiest. He will be in the station--be in the public eye--before I can reach him. I am covered in blood. I might be good at what I do, but despite the fact that King's Cross station is indeed where Harry Potter headed off for Hogwarts, I do not possess an invisibility cloak. I stop, look back, consider the situation, come to a conclusion. I have messed up. It's time to make myself scarce. I am not worried about any CCTV recording what I have done. There is a reason the undesirable element choose spots like this. It stands apart from all prying eyes, even the digital and electronic ones. Still. I've blown it. After all these years, after all the fruitless searches, one lead has finally come my way, and if I lose that lead . . . I need help. I hurry away and press the 1 on my speed dial. I haven't pressed the 1 for nearly a year. He answers on the third ring. "Hello?" Hearing his voice again, even though I had steeled for it, sends me reeling for a moment. The number was blocked, so he has no idea who has called him. I say, "Don't you mean 'articulate'?" There is a gasp. "Win? My God, where have you been--?" "I saw him," I say. "Who?" "Think." The briefest of pauses. "Wait, both of them?" "Just Patrick." "Wow." I frown. Wow? "Myron?" "Yes?" "Catch the next plane to London. I need your help." Excerpted from Home by Harlan Coben All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.