Newest Review: ... photo. Coben gradually unveils the history of these key characters; Grace was injured at a Jimmy X concert years ago after a gun shot trig... more
One Coincidence Too Many
Just One Look - Harlan Coben
Member Name: cazkins
Just One Look - Harlan Coben
Advantages: Good depth of characters, interesting plot, keeps you guessing
Disadvantages: Perhaps a slightly rushed ending
I have read and reviewed books by Harlan Coben before and have really enjoyed them, so I was looking forward to this one. It was an enjoyable read, quite 'out there' in terms of an abstract plot, but a good crime thriller none the less that will keep you guessing.
We're introduced to Grace Lawson, a woman happily married too her husband jack, with whom she has two kids. On a routine trip out, she collects some holiday snaps from the 'Photomat' (yup, this is American), and goes to pick her children up from school. What she wasn't expecting was to find an old-looking photo in the packet; perhaps it got dropped in by accident, but at least one face from this more youthful group of people looks slightly familiar to her. Jack. A strange coincidence doesn't seem as plausible anymore, especially when Jack goes missing that night after seeing the photo.
Coben gradually unveils the history of these key characters; Grace was injured at a Jimmy X concert years ago after a gun shot triggered hysteria and led to a crush of people, with 18 children dying. The parents were in anguish, but Grace became a survivor, to whom many of the parents, including one by the name of Carl Vespa, came to identify with in the grief of their loss. Jack had a somewhat more blurred past; he'd ran away oversees for a while but the reason was unbeknown to Grace, though they'd met oversees and instantly hit it off.
Back in the present and the police aren't taking Jack's disappearance as seriously as Grace would have hoped, as on the surface it doesn't appear that any foul play was involved. But bodies begin to surface, a killer by the name of Eric Wu is involved with his ninja-like skills and the trial of the man who started the commotion at the Jimmy X gig is back in the limelight hoping to be released from jail. Could all of this be connected?
I won't go into any more detail, but suffice to say, it's not a straightforward plot. I know that things didn't start to properly fit into place for a while, and even when they did, something changed and the course of explanations was derailed again. Even the epilogue provides another twist of events, so I would advise reading that too.
The style of writing was one that was absorbing and easy to read. The characters felt identifiable and although the plot was reasonably complex, I didn't get lost in a mass of characters and potential explanations; Coben was able to keep a good pace without moving too fast and confusing the reader.
Having said that, I couldn't help but feel the ending was slightly rushed. I didn't necessarily find the final explanation of events wholly believable, but it was easy enough to go along with. It was the way that things changed so quickly, that made it feel like there were a limited number of pages Coben could fill and he was running out towards the end. Although, that does mean that things weren't dragged out more than necessary, so it depends on your view of it. I still found the book very enjoyable and interesting to read, and I was eager to pick it back up from where I felt off to get my next fix of action and mystery.
More praise for the book can be found on the front cover: 'Superbly crafted, high adrenaline entertainment' - The Times, along with 'Bestselling author of Tell No One and No Second Chance'. More is found on the back, including 'A much better writer than Grisham' - Daily Telegraph, and 'This twisty thriller is one of the best thrillers you'll read this year. No one - but no-one - is whom they seem' - FHM.
362 pages over 54 chapters (370 including epilogue, which should be read as it clarifies more than I had expected!)
Summary: One to get absorbed in, a good read for thriller fans