MARCH READING 2022: NEW BOOKS BY HARLAN COBEN AND ROBERT GOLD
Harlan Coben can always be relied upon to provide good entertainment, whether it is a novel or one of his Netflix adaptations.
His latest novel, The Match (Century, 16 March 2022), is a follow-up to his highly successful The Boy From The Woods (2020), and features many of the same characters from that book. At the centre of the novel is Wilde, the titular boy from the woods, who was discovered living a feral existence in the Ramapo mountains of New Jersey. Wilde grew up not knowing anything about his parents, or his background, but a match on a DNA database puts him on the trail of a close relative. Wilde’s hopes of finding out more about his family are initially dashed, however, when the contact disappears. Undaunted, Wilde continues his research, but soon becomes caught up in a series of killings that somehow seem to be linked to his search for his family.
Coben has always been able to quickly catch a reader up in his story, and The Match is no exception. From the opening pages he draws you in and keeps you engrossed as the story weaves its way through a series of surprises and unexpected detours. The pacing is brisk, and it is good to catch up with the characters from the previous Wilde book, as well as Chris Taylor, aka the Stranger, from Coben’s 2015 book The Stranger.
The plot goes in some interesting directions, and Coben enjoys himself in caricaturing the reality television business, although he makes some good points about how young people view reality dating shows. He also takes gentle swipes at other aspects of society and places his characters in a relatable current context.
As usual, the twists and turns are terrific and the surprises keep on coming all the way to the last page. The ending is hard to predict and the final fifty pages or so fly by. A stellar piece of entertainment.
My reservations are minor. Often in his books Coben generates a good sense of suspense by putting his everyday characters in dangerous situations that seem beyond their capabilities, but Wilde is such a self assured and capable man that we never really worry about his ability to get out of trouble. On the other hand, the reader does come to care about his emotional state and Coben does a neat job of wrapping up those aspects of Wilde’s personal life. I also think that to get the maximum enjoyable from The Match you really do need to have read The Boy From The Woods first.
A strong four stars out of five.
Thanks to the Canberra Weekly and the publisher for an advanced copy of the book.
Compared to Harlan Coben, British writer Robert Gold is a newcomer to the thriller writing business, but he certainly knows how to tell a very engaging and addictively readable story.
Twelve Secrets (Sphere, 8 March 2022) is Gold’s first solo novel, although he has previously co-authored three titles in James Patterson’s Bookshots series.
Twenty years ago Ben Harper’s older brother, and his friend, were killed in horrific circumstances by two teenage girls that they knew. The murders have long cast a shadow over Ben’s life, but thanks to his friends, and the support of his close-knit hometown community near London, he has moved on and is now a successful crime journalist. However, a fresh murder case with links to his brother’s death, upturns all that he thought that he knew about that day twenty years ago, and sets him on a quest to uncover long held secrets.
This is a very enjoyable read. Gold has learnt well from his experience with James Patterson, and Twelve Secrets unfolds in a smooth manner that keeps you eagerly turning the pages to find out what happens next. There is not a lot of action, but the unravelling of the interesting plot and the frequent twists keeps the suspense and the interest high.
Gold skilfully shifts the viewpoint between Ben’s first person narration and the perspective of other characters to maximise the mystery, and the structuring of the story around twelve secrets works quite well. Ben and the other characters are interesting and credible, and there are enough surprises to keep you engaged.
I really liked the easy flow of the writing and the story, and the book has strong tele-movie feel to it. There are some stretches of credibility, but not enough to detract from the enjoyment of the book. I also was not a fan of the foreshadowing device that Gold uses at the beginning of each section, but this is a small personal quibble.
A very good solo debut, four stars out of five!
Thanks to the publisher and the Canberra Weekly for a copy of the book for review.