TELL NO ONE (2001) is Harlan Coben's first standalone novel and deviation from the Myron Bolitar series. Dr. David Beck is practically still a newlywed when he loses his wife, Elizabeth, to a brutal murder by a serial killer. Eight years later two men are found dead in the same area where Elizabeth had been abducted. It is determined that the two men had been dead for approximately...eight years. Then the craziness begins. David Beck begins to receive cryptic messages leading him to believe his wife is alive. And at the same time the police begin investigating Beck as his wife's murderer, even though her murder was attributed to the serial killer and closed eight years ago. What is the truth and can Beck uncover it before the police close in on him?
I listened to TELL NO ONE on audio book. Recorded Books published this audio book and it was read by Ed Sala. While I think Sala did a very nice job with the reading, emphasizing appropriately to enhance the thrill effect, the one objection I had was that he sounded too old for the character of David Beck. I had a hard time getting past that as I listened.
The plot of this book is outstanding, and I believe that a large reason for that is the theme of the novel. The overall idea that a person could love and miss someone so much that they would be willing to give their own life to have that person back is not a foreign emotion to most people. So, while 99.9% of the world would never encounter a situation anywhere near David Beck's situation, they can still identify with this character, share an understanding of his grief. That understanding is what heightens the tension of this novel. And of course Coben's twists add a degree of excitement to the plot as well.
Coben is a character genius. Deviating from his tried and true cast from the Bolitar mysteries he creates a new ensemble equally as rich. David Beck is far from your Superman hero. After all the man failed to save his wife from being abducted. But Beck's strengths lie in his intelligence, his devotion and his humanity. One of the most poignant scenes in the book for me was when Beck assaults a police officer and is absolutely mortified and repulsed by his behavior. He acted instinctively and could not believe it was he who was behaving in such a manner. That characteristic is far more attractive to me as a reader than the character who throws violence around without a second thought. Coben leaves that to the masochistic villain Eric Wu.
But another element of Coben's character genius is his diverse cast of character. All the heroes are not lily-white. As he does with Win in the Bolitar mysteries, Coben adds a character who makes the reader check his/her beliefs. A character who for all intents and purposes does bad things. But his character is simple enough to label as bad. Tyrese fills this role in TELL NO ONE. And it would not be a signature Coben novel without humor. Shauna provides a great deal of this humor. The reader knows right off the bat that fun has walked in when Beck's assistant intercoms him to say that, "you're...uh...um...Shauna is here."
TELL NO ONE was an exciting thriller that had me gripping my steering wheel a little tighter than usual, laughing out loud, and declaring "ah ha!" Now I can finally rent the movie!
TELL NO ONE was published by Delacorte Press in hardcover (ISBN 978-0385335553 ) in 2001, by Dell in mass market paperback (ISBN 978-0440236702) in 2002, and by Recorded Books as an unabridged audio recording (ISBN 1-4025-3486-8) in 2002.