Ali Karim is a Board Member of Bouchercon [The World Crime & Mystery Convention] and co-chaired programming for Bouchercon Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015. He is Assistant Editor of Shots eZine, British correspondent for The Rap Sheet and writes and reviews for many US magazines & Ezines.
Sometimes we forget what a tremendous thriller writer Harlan Coben is; as we take it as read, that his annual releases will hit the NY Times and London Times Top Ten. So it was a delight to sample his latest offering, and one featuring his investigator Myron Bolitar, and Windsor Horne Lockwood, III [aka "Win"] – for this is one of the most riveting and thought provoking thrillers of 2016.
As ever, Coben comes up with a premise that is as intriguing as it is provocative to launch this tale. Two young boys from wealthy families vanish, in what appears as an abduction-ransom that went horribly wrong. With quiet desperation, the families have waited to learn what happened to their two boys; that is, until Myron Bolitar is contacted by Win, who believes to have tracked one of the boys, Patrick Moore in London. The other of the missing boys, Rhys Baldwin is connected to Win, as he is a child of one of Win’s cousins, Brooke. However the discovery of Patrick does not shed light on the mystery of their disappearance, or the whereabouts of Rhys, instead it raises more questions as to what actually happened a decade back.
Apart from the tale of the missing boys which lies in the centre of this novel, Coben’s skill in carving secondary characters is in full view in Home. We have the old favourites of Esperanza and Big Cindi, as well as a nod to the young Mickey Bolitar – but some interesting new characters, with equally off-the-wall nicknames, such as Fat Ghandi, Spoon and Zorra of The Mossad.
Though one of the more darker adventures in the Myron Bolitar thriller series; the sense of humour [with an eye on the absurd] make Home, an energetic and exciting read, and one that belays the complexity of the plot by its easy going narrative. There are twists and turns as well as insights into ‘family’ as well as wealth and the fear couples try to keep in check, when they become parents.
Though the 11th in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone, as Coben’s character’s backstory is not relevant to Home; though readers who have read the preceding novels will enjoy the character development.
The ending is one that will take even the die-hard Myron Bolitar reader by total surprise. The skill of Harlan Coben is illustrated by the ease that this novel uncoils, with humour and empathy striating the twisty narrative. Anyone who writes professionally will understand how hard it is to craft a thriller to look so simple, so effortless, when the reality is that it is hard; very hard to be this good as a thriller writer.
And, a tip Harlan Coben’s Home doesn’t require a bookmark as it is hard to put the book down once the spine is broken, as your hands will appear glued to the binding.