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Stay Close - Harlan Coben
Member Name: jeffjen
Stay Close - Harlan Coben
Date: 26/06/13, updated on 27/06/13 (104 review reads)
Advantages: A well written 'hook and twist' thriller.
Disadvantages: Characters not as enjoyable as in some of his other books.
Ray Levine is a talented photographer. Seventeen years ago he had a promising future and fell in love with 'Cassie', but these days his job sees him making a marginal living pandering to celebrity-obssessed rich kids and drinking too much.
Detective Broome is nearing retirement, but he can't let go of a cold case.
Megan, Ray and Broome are three ordinary people who are about to discover that when the past refuses to stay buried, the American dream can be a nightmare...
Stay Close is a 2012 stand alone novel by one of my favourite authors, Harlan Coben. Ever since I picked up a copy of one of his earlier stand alone novels, 'Tell No One' a few years ago, I have been hooked on this author's work as he excels in my opinion at crime-thriller writing with plenty of trademark twists and shocks. He also pens the popular 'Myron Bolitar' series, but it is his stand alone novels which I prefer. Stay Close was released as a paperback earlier this year and I resisted the urge to delve straight into it when I bought a copy and instead managed to keep it to read when on holiday recently.
As is usual for me when I begin reading a Harlan Coben novel, I quickly become absorbed in the story and here with Stay Close it was no different. I prefer to read a book which draws you in from the first page, as if I am not intrigued by the end of the first chapter, I begin to lose interest.
The story begins with photographer Ray Levine out on a job. It is immediately plain to see that Ray's career hasn't panned out the way he once expected. His photography job is at the lower end of the scale and is one he derides no enjoyment from. After leaving a job one evening, Ray is attacked and his camera stolen. Fortunately Ray syncs his photographs to his computer and so is able to retrieve the photographs needed for his job. However, as he is on the computer looking through earlier photographs he had taken that day before his job, he sees something which makes him realise that the attacker had not been after the camera, they had been after a certain picture.
This opener is the first indication that a dark past is going to come back and affect the characters in this story, although the reader has no idea what the link is until later, as the story then changes to Megan Pierce and her surburban soccer-mum lifestyle, seeing her kids out to school. Then Megan receives a phone call from someone from her past, asking to meet. Megan heads back to Atlantic City and realises she misses her old seedy lifesyle. She has a life many people would be envious of, however she can't help but feel drawn to her old life and therefore stays longer than she really should.
Add to this the character of Detective Broome still haunted by a cold case and the opening elements are there to make another thriller with plenty of the usual Coben twists as the reader wonders how these characters are linked and what has happened in the past that is certainly going to affect their future.
As the story unfolds and the past is slowly revealed, I marvelled at Coben's knack of bringing everything together but still managing to keep the reader wondering right to the end exactly who is responsible for what and how it is all going to end. Once again I didn't manage to guess the ending, which is the sign of a good thriller for me personally and the writing was well paced throughout with plenty of tension. Indeed there are no endless, needless or boring descriptions in a Harlan Coben novel, he tells you what you need to know without spending too long delving into character's backgrounds.
Speaking of the characters, I must admit I didn't feel as close to them in this novel as I have with previous ones. The character of Megan Pierce I found there was little to like about and usually the main character of the story in a Coben novel I find I warm to, so this was different to the norm. Megan appears quite selfish and although you do see a warmer, softer side to her once or twice, it didn't seem to fit well with her overall character and therefore I found her irritating.
Despite this, all the characters were well developed and I found I warmed to Detective Broome more than anyone else and wouldn't mind seeing him make an appearance in another novel, as this is something which often happens in a Coben story! Speaking of which, I didn't think there was going to be any familiar characters making an appearance in this story, but there was a nice surprise towards the end when there was a nod to a couple of characters from other Coben novels, Loren Muse and Hester Crimstein, who will be familiar to those who have read some of Coben's previous stand alone novels.
I do wish maybe they had featured a little more here, but that is just a personal small niggle and doesn't detract from the story at all.
As is usual for me when reading a Harlan Coben novel, I found it difficult to put down and I read this book in two days. If I had not been on holiday then I maybe would have completed it in just one day which is testament to how much I enjoy his books as he is a master of the 'hook and twist'. He always manages to build the tension and suspense from the first page so you really struggle to put the book down.
Harlan Coben has delivered another good stand alone thriller in Stay Close. Although it is not my favourite book by him as I didn't enjoy the characters here as much as I have in previous novels, it is still superior to many crime thrillers I have read and therefore is still one I am more than happy to recommend.
Summary: Another thriller full of tension and twists from Harlan Coben.