three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
47-July-Aug-2010
By: 
Harlan Coben
user_rating: 
0

A-Caught.epsOver the past 15 years, award-winning crime-and-thriller writer Harlan Coben has become an international sensation. For a decade, starting in the mid-1990s, Coben was best known as the creator of Myron Bolitar, a sports agent who always managed to find trouble. The stand-alone Caught, a ripped-from-the-headlines examination of obsession and revenge, is Coben's seventeenth novel. Also Reviewed: The Woods ( 3.5 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2007).

The Story: "Evil comes in all guises," widowed mother Wendy Tynes muses. "You can feel it. You just can." Working on that premise, Tynes, television host of Caught in the Act, which exposes sexual predators, sets up an Internet sting to catch pedophiles. She lands a big fish, Dan Mercer. But Tynes is fired when Mercer, a respected community center director, walks free, claiming that he was entrapped while responding to a plea from an abused child. When a popular high school student disappears from her New Jersey neighborhood, Mercer is the prime suspect--and Tynes is back on the case. But she has hardly scratched the surface.
Dutton. 388 pages. $27.95. ISBN13: 9780525951582

Providence Journal 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Harlan Coben's latest impossible-to-put-down bestseller is off and running on a dead sprint through a myriad of social issues. ... Such moral dilemmas make Caught feel like Coben's Mystic River, in many ways as heart-wrenching and cautionary as that Dennis Lehane classic." Jon Land

Globe and Mail (Canada) 4 of 5 Stars
"I love Harlan Coben's series of sports mysteries featuring Myron Bolitar, but it's his non-Bolitar books that really demonstrate his superior writing talents. ... There's a message and a terrific story to back it up, and some warnings about the tendency to believe everything we read in the wild new world online." Margaret Cannon

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Caught works as a personal story about families, a cautionary tale about parents manipulating their children and how a media-savvy world can mean a loss of privacy and quick judgments. But Caught also is a taut thriller that doesn't let go until the last page." Oline H. Cogdill

New York Times 3 of 5 Stars
"His once-enveloping stories now move at a breakneck clip not unlike James Patterson's, though at least Mr. Coben still writes chapters longer than three pages. Since anything and everything can happen in the berserk world of Caught, none of the suspense carries much weight, and no character has time to become particularly sympathetic." Janet Maslin

Oregonian 3 of 5 Stars
"We're not talking soaring prose here, but Coben is an engaging companion, and Caught is thoughtful enough to keep us from hassling the attendants or trying to strangle our seatmates on that coast-to-coast flight." Katherine Dunn

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"For all its strands of mystery, the book offers little suspense and few characters who escape being caricatures. ... Caught will be welcomed by those who--on long flights or at home after a hard day's work--prefer thrillers to sudoku or sitcoms." Dennis Drabelle

Critical Summary

Along with his Myron Bolitar series, Coben's stand-alone novels have cemented his reputation as a solid writer and a relentless plotter of high-octane entertainment. "I'm pretty sure it all worked out in the end, with no loose ends, but I wouldn't want to take a test," the Washington Post says of the "rococo plot" in Caught. The author's "family" novels address some important social issues and will resonate with anyone who has children, and the Internet angle is timely. With his latest effort--though, admittedly, a generally slower-paced effort with weaker characterization than in other novels--Coben delivers solid entertainment. Again.