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Book rating: 04 Hardback

By (author) Harlan Coben

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Product description

Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Now she's got two kids, a perfect husband, a house with a picket fence, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but at the age of forty he finds himself in a dead-end job posing as a paparazzo pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids. Broome is a detective who can't let go of a cold case - a local husband and father who disappeared seventeen years ago - and spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man's family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them. Three people living lives they never wanted, hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect, will find that the past never truly fades away. Even as the terrible consequences of long-ago events crash together in the present and threaten to ruin lives, they will come to the startling realisation that they may not want to forget the past at all. And as each confronts the dark side of the American Dream - the boredom of suburban life, the thrill of temptation, the desperation that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades - they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper thin as a heartbeat...

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Author information

Harlan Coben is an international number one bestselling thriller author. He is the winner of the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony Awards - the first to receive all three. His books are published in forty languages, with over forty-seven million copies in print worldwide. Both his standalone thrillers and series featuring the indomitable Myron Bolitar have been number one bestsellers in over a dozen countries, gracing the lists of the Sunday Times and New York Times. His novel Tell No One was turned into the smash hit French film of the same name, and received the highly coveted Lumiere (French Golden Globe) for best picture as well as four Cesars (French Oscar). Harlan lives in New Jersey with his family. www.harlancoben.com

Customer reviews

By CuteBadger 21 May 2012 3

Something terrible happened 17 years ago which still affects the lives of those who were involved. Megan has changed her life completely since then, but finds herself tempted back to the old neighbourhood. Ray seems to have hit rock bottom and has nowhere else to go. Broome is a cop who can't let go of the past (in more ways than one) and is determined to find out what happened all those years ago and how it links to a new crime. And though they all think they know what went on, sometimes the past isn't the way we remember it.

This is one of those books that you race through to find out what happens and only when you finish do you take a breath and think about how it all fits together. The whole point is the concealment of 'whodunit' as long as possible and on this level it worked quite well, as the truth didn't start to dawn on me until around three-quarters of the way through. However, after I'd finished the book it felt like it wasn't as substantial as I'd thought. I was a bit irritated by an elaborate plot strand relating to a family member of one of the protagonists which was a total red herring.

The author seems to be trying to be of the hard-boiled school of crime writing, and I'm not sure that he entirely pulls it off. The reader can see what he's trying to do by including a sentence like, "The stale stench of hairspray and regret wafted toward him", but it doesn't really work in the context of the rest of the novel.

It's a particularly American novel, dealing as it does with the white picket-fence view of marriage and the importance of career and financial success. However it also shows the seedier side of life, focusing on the more down-market attractions of Atlantic City and the types of people who ply their trade there. This is quite an exotic location for UK readers, and not one that I've come across in many books before. As this is the case I may not have picked up some of the significance of the setting that would be apparent to US readers.

I thought that the characters were well-drawn enough for the novel, but I can't say that I really sympathised with any of them or that I was sorry to see them go at the end of the book. Ken and Barbie were probably the most memorable and I would have liked to hear more about their background and what made them what they are.

I'm aware that I'm not gushing about "Stay Close" and that I'm probably more damning it with faint praise than anything else. It's a strange book in that I enjoyed it while I was reading it, hurried to finish it so I could find out how it came out, but afterwards didn't have any strong memories of it or strong feelings about it. It feels quite disposable and not something I'd want to go back to in future.

In short, it's a workmanlike page-turner that will distract you while reading it, but which won't set the world on fire. I haven't been left with any inclination to go out of my way to read more of Mr Coben's books, but if they cross my path in future I might give them a go.

By Marleen Kennedy 12 May 2012 5

On the surface Megan is the typical suburban wife and mother. Living in a beautiful house with her loving husband and two children, her life behind the picket fence appears picture perfect. But Megan has a secret. Seventeen years ago she fled Atlantic City and her old life. A life in which she was called Cassie and worked as a dancer in a seedy place called La Cr�¨me. And although she knows she should be grateful that she had a chance to leave her old life behind and start a fresh one, part of her still misses the excitement of the those days.
Ray Levine is a photographer. He used to be very successful in that career but for the past seventeen years he's been haunted by visions of blood, too much blood, and incapable to keep himself together enough to do more than sleazy and cheap assignments.
Broome is a police detective who has never been able to let go of a seventeen year old, unsolved case. Back than, on the eighteenth of March a man disappeared never to be seen or heard from again. And although the general consensus is that the man had run of with his stripper girlfriend, Broome never was and still isn't convinced of that.
When, on the eighteenth of March, seventeen years later, another man disappears, Megan, Ray and Broome are all drawn back to the events that altered their lives in such substantial ways.
Three people are given the opportunity to revisit the past and maybe right old wrongs. But they are not the only ones taking an interest in the new disappearance. And those others who are trying to find answers have no scruples or qualms about their methods.
When it appears that this may be more than just a case of two missing men, when the death-toll rises and the solution appears no clearer than it was in the past, lives, sanity and happiness may fall victim to a very clever and manipulative mind.

Harlan Coben has long been one of my favourite authors. I may not have read every single one of his books, but I haven't missed many of them because he writes damn good thrillers.
Coben has to be one of the masters of this genre. He takes seemingly normal, every day people and puts them in situations out of their control, puts them through their paces and facing near impossible dilemmas. And just when it seems impossible that they might resolve their situation he will throw them a life-line or they will exceed their own and the reader's expectations and the story continues.

To call this book a page-turner would be an understatement. I dare anyone to start this book and linger on it. These pages are filled with twists and turns, heart-stopping scenes and cliff-hangers. Just when the reader thinks they know where the story is going and pride themselves on having it all figured out, Coben throws them on another loop and nothing is the way it seemed just a few pages before.
These days, I often pride myself on being able to figure out what exactly is going on before the moment in the story when the writer wants me to know the answers. That was not the case in this book. The resolution of this story took me by surprise as much as it did the characters in the book, which for me only added to the reading enjoyment.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good thriller, but I guess those people have probably been reading Coben's books for years. Therefore, I would also tell people who don't usually read thrillers but would like to try one, to pick up Stay Close. I would be surprised if they didn't turn around and stay with the genre. Because this is one terrific read.

Review quote

Harlan Coben specialises in rousing the snake that lurks in the perfectly cut grass of American suburbia. STAY CLOSE brings the secrets and lives of three people into collision. Coben makes you care about them but never neglects a plot that is full of his trademark shocks. SUNDAY TELEGRAPH "A stroll in excellent company" -- Jake Kerridge Sunday Express "A classy thriller" Bella '"Tense and tightly plotted... a master of thrillers."' SHORTLIST '"[An] atmospheric, tense and constantly twisting novel. The perfect introduction to the brilliance of US crime master Coben."' -- Boyd Hilton HEAT 'A masterful stand-alone... Coben writes with wit and irony, and his flair for exposing the frail balance point between order and chaos in our lives has never been stronger than in this suspenseful outing' Publishers Weekly 'A tour-de-force stand-alone... with some of the most shocking action scenes in current crime fiction' Booklist "Harlan Coben's latest thriller is typically engrossing" Star 'Coben engages readers from the first page. A plot layered with twists, action, and a scandalous history will have his many fans flying through this new offering. Coben devotees have come to expect certain thrills, and they will not be disappointed' Library Journal 'The narration hums and dances and sings like nothing he has done before, and his characters are so real this time around that they almost seem to rise off the printed page' BookReporter.com 'In all of his writing he brings a unique voice to stories that entertain and enthrall the reader ... The story is intense, the characters are interesting, and the writing is magnificent. Coben's talent is in high gear' Huffington Post

Back cover copy

Harlan Coben [in author font] 'Bestselling writer Harlan Coben dazzles us yet again with a pacy thriller that's hard to put down.' Star Magazine 'The twists and turns of the clever plot will keep you guessing until the final showdown.' Bella 'Live Wire... shows Coben to be a master of intricate plot-weaving. Twists come thick and fast, and there's an immediate re-readability as you attempt to unravel the tangled web of events.' Shortlist 'A masterful balance of impeccably story-telling and flawless characterisation. There's no such thing as the perfect thriller, but Harlan Coben is as close as it gets.' Daily Record 'Caught: The brilliantly tense, beautifully written new mystery thriller from Coben - possibly the most joyously readable crime writer in the world right now.' Heat 'If you haven't been caught by Coben's intelligent, gripping thrillers yet, this will hook you.' Daily Mirror 'His trademark is twists that you don't see coming' Daily Mail 9781409112556

Flap copy

Harlan Coben follows four consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers with a stand-alone thriller in the vein of his beloved breakout novels Caught and Hold Tight. Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Now she's got two kids, a perfect husband, a picket fence, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but at age forty he finds himself in a dead- end job posing as a paparazzo pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids. Jack is a detective who can't let go of a cold case-a local husband and father disappeared seventeen years ago, and Jack spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man's family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them. Three people living lives they never wanted, hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect, will find that the past doesn't recede. Even as the terrible consequences of long-ago events crash together in the present and threaten to ruin lives, they will come to the startling realization that they may not want to forget the past at all. And as each confronts the dark side of the American Dream- the boredom of a nice suburban life, the excitement of temptation, the desperation and hunger that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades- they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper-thin as a heartbeat. With his trademark combination of page-turning thrills and unrivaled insight into the dark shadows that creep into even the happiest communities, Harlan Coben delivers a thriller that cements his status as the master of domestic suspense. £18.99 IN UK ONLY