PaperBackers: The past is a dangerous place

The author sets it off at a brisk pace and the characters are interesting set pieces. Half way through, however, the pace slows down, along with the motivation to read.

Written by Surbhi Gupta | Published: December 23, 2017 12:35 am
Waiting to share the news with his twin, Leo, he had, instead, received the news of his death, on the railway tracks, along with that of his girlfriend, Diana.

Book: Don’t Let Go
Author: Harlan Coben
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 352
Price: Rs 599

Napolean Dumas is a small-town cop in the state of New Jersey, with a predilection for vigilantism. He has also been grieving for the past 15 years. It was in his senior year at high school, that he had returned home after winning a hockey match. Waiting to share the news with his twin, Leo, he had, instead, received the news of his death, on the railway tracks, along with that of his girlfriend, Diana. The verdict was a suicide pact.

More than a decade later, more bad news knocks at his door. Maura’s fingerprints have been found at a crime scene, where another high school buddy, Rex, is found dead. She had been his girlfriend in high school and had vanished after the death of Leo and Diana. Now, Napolean, or Nap, decides to fill in the blanks.

Given the premise, the story gets off to an intriguing start. The author sets it off at a brisk pace and the characters are interesting set pieces. Half way through, however, the pace slows down, along with the motivation to read. The story drags its feet and much of the thrill dissipates into a formulaic rehash. Nap’s character lacks the hallmark of a good detective — pro-activeness, but, perhaps, we can blame it on his emotional bereavement (His internal monologues with his dead twin is quite heartbreaking).

But then, there is another murder, this time of another common friend, Hank, and Nap stumbles upon a secret government base that might be connected to the murders.

A small town with big secrets is a well-worn trope in detective fiction and stands up to scrutiny if done well. The introduction of a plot point involving a secretive government base and CIA slackens the pace. It also makes space for plenty of loopholes, which don’t really add up for discerning readers. But, to Coben’s credit, he does get back in to the game towards the end and manages to up the tempo. All in all, good enough for a quick airport read, if you are short of options and have time to spare.

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