One of the original co-founders of A SHOT IN THE DARK (now SHOTS), John is still active in the world of crime fiction.
Found is the third Young Adult book by Harlan Coben to feature Mickey Bolitar, nephew of the peerless Myron and a High School junior burdened with more troubles than just acne and growing pains.
Still grieving the death of his father eight months ago he has to cope with his personal sense of guilt for the crippling injuries that have put his best friend Spoon in hospital, whilst struggling to be accepted into the closed circle of the school basketball team and to discover why he is apparently being stalked by the crazed paramedic who may or may not have killed his father. And Veronica Mars thinks she had it bad!
Needless to say not everything works out well and along the way to reaching its various and surprising conclusions the plot delivers young Mickey some much desired answers to long buried family secrets, as well as offering salutary lessons about life, basketball and everything. With trademark Coben humour and sparky dialogue, albeit slightly sanitized for the YA market, he weaves three separate plots into a more than satisfying whole as his young protagonist learns more about the Abeona Shelter, a kind of Underground Railway for troubled children, whilst solving the mystery of his friend Em’s missing online boyfriend and, against his better judgement, trying to clear team captain and uber-bully Troy Taylor of drug abuse charges.
This probably isn’t the best jumping on point for anybody who hasn’t read the first two books – which includes me – though Coben does a good job of recapping for the newbies and its hard not take a liking to Mickey and his friends Rachel, Em and Spoon – though I think they should get a dog just to round out the team. A pit bull called Wynn maybe? Or a Great Dane?
As someone who has been a fan of Harlan Coben for years I admit I wasn’t thrilled to learn that he had decided to start producing YA titles, if only because it necessarily meant a delay in his normal output. There was a feeling too that Mickey might really just be Myron lite and maybe there is some truth in that perception.
Still, it’s Coben and its nothing if not user friendly in its pacing and style and there’s enough here to keep even grumpy old men satisfied until he puts his big boy pants on again. As for Mickey I’ll watch this space with interest. Once he takes his training wheels off he might just be going places.
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