Monday, August 18, 2008

Hold Tight - Harlan Coben

In Harlan Coben's latest thriller, Hold Tight, Mike and Tia Baye experience a chilling couple of days because of a decision to put spyware on their son's computer.

When Mike and Tia learn through an e-mail that Adam is going to attend a party with drinking and drugs, they set out to intercept him and prevent him from going without letting on to the fact that they know, and even more importantly HOW they know. But something goes awry when there is no party. But where is Adam? That's when Mike starts following him via the GPS in Adam's cell phone. This plan leads Mike to a shady neighborhood where HE is attacked, and he still hasn't found Adam.

As if Mike Baye doesn't have enough to worry about, his medical partner, Ilene Goldfarb is treating Lucas Loriman, the son of his next door neighbors Susan and Dante Loriman. Through blood testing to find a kidney donor, they learn that Dante is not Lucas's father. The young boy doesn't have much hope unless they can locate his actual father or a paternal relative.

AND the plot continues to layer with the abductions and murders of two women connected to this same neighborhood. Those murders tie into a whole separate element of the novel - or so it seems to be separate.

Coben juggles a lot of characters and plot lines in this novel. He does bring them together at the end of the book, but you may want to have a small chart to keep track of everyone in the book. I found myself asking, "now which character is this again?" quite often throughout the book.

If you're a parent, this book might just scare the bejeebers out of you. The obvious question threaded throughout the entire book is "should you spy on your children?" And Coben doesn't give you his opinion one way or the other. That's the point of the multi-dimensional plot. He gives you a look at the evils of both options.

Coben has this knack for slowly giving you clues that you don't know you're getting. So you feel like you're in the dark with no idea where you're headed - and with the twists and turns in this novel, that just intensifies the feeling of being completely lost. But then he starts to bring all the pieces together and they make sense. I found myself saying, "of course!" more times than once as the book was drawing to a close. I will admit that there was one element I found too convenient in the end, but you can have that with fiction, I guess.

I think I've said this before about Coben, but every time I pick up one of his books I think it should be locked in a time capsule. He defines the statement "art imitates life." This book deals with present-day technology and the ethics surrounding that technology, but it also imitates the language and values of the present. While I do hope the events of this book aren't happening (or haven't happened) anywhere in the world, it isn't hard to imagine them happening because of the realism in all other elements of the book.

One of the other heavy topics that comes up in this book is teenage suicide. One of the characters commits suicide before the story begins. Coben gives the reader a glimpse of the effects this event has on both parents as well as the character's best friend. I've not had a child commit suicide, but I could definitely connect with Betsy Hill after this insight:

The house was dead.

That was how Betsy Hill would describe it. Dead. It wasn't merely quiet or still. The house was hollow, gone, deceased - its heart had stopped beating, the blood had stopped flowing, the innards had begun to decay.

Dead. Dead as a doornail, whatever the hell that meant.

Dead as her son, Spencer.

Don't look for a lot of character development in this novel. The focus is more on the ethical question of spying and on the plot development. Of course at 415 pages, if Coben had put in more character development, I might have been reading for another week. But I think the lack of character development was intentional. This approach made the scenario open to anyone. This isn't something that could happen to only a select, specific group of people, but rather it could happen to the family down the street...or even the family right there in your own home. And that is the scariest part of all.


Debbie August 18, 2008 at 4:58 PM  

I've never read Harlan Coben.... I guess I need to. Where should I begin? These are recurring characters I take it?

Jen August 18, 2008 at 11:24 PM  


Hold Tight is a stand alone novel - Harlan's most recent. You can read it without having to read any others. There are a couple people mentioned in this novel that have appeared in other Coben novels, but nothing important enough for you to feel like you're missing something. Harlan's first seven novels were the Myron Bolitar series. You can really read those in any order, too, but I'm obsessive about it; I have to read in order. The first of those is Deal Breaker. The Myron Bolitar series is absolutely one of my favorites. A definite must read for any crime fiction junkie - like me! :)

lesley l January 6, 2017 at 5:03 PM  

First and only book I read and will ever read by Harlan. In fact, I probably read it around the time you initially posted this, but my memory was jogged just now and I started to look for what prompted me to loathe his writing so much. Yes, it does keep you turning pages, but it's so overwhelmingly empty. I derived no satisfaction from this even when I got a few chapters in. I could just sense he was getting me to read to the end with no ultimate satisfactory payoff. I thought, "This must be how we teach people to write a (expletive)load of bad mass market thrillers." It was horribly formulaic and put me off anything by him. I don't go near it, but I appreciate that you posted on it.

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