Go to Homepage   Harlan Coben: Gone for Good


Crescent Blues Book ViewsDell Publishing Co. (Paperback), ISBN 0440236738
One of Coben's great strengths as a writer is his ability to create characters who are believable, yet unique and interesting, and putting them into situations that would seem implausible at best with less finely detailed characters. In Gone for Good, Will Klein works with the lost children of the night, the mid-western runaways who come to New York City with dreams of becoming models or actresses and wind up on the streets as prostitutes or drug dealers. A best friend who happens to be a former neo-Nazi, a wonderful girlfriend working past her own demons and his emotionally involving work round out Will's life enough for his taste, and although his past holds some sorrow, he enjoys his life as much as anyone.

Book: harlan coben, gone for good
All this starts to unravel when Will's mother dies. Sunny, her nickname from earlier, happier times, saddles Will with some shocking news on her death bed. His brother Ken still lives. Eleven years ago, the suburban murder of Julie Miller, Will's old girlfriend, stunned the town and eradicated Sunny's trademark smile. The police believed Ken committed the murder and went into hiding; Will's family believed that Ken fell victim to the same murderer, despite the lack of a body.

Among Sunny's belongings Ken finds a photograph, taken only two years ago, that shows Ken, very much alive. Reeling from the implications, Will decides to find the brother he always worshipped. Unfortunately for mild-mannered Will, his hunt reopens old wounds and plots that he lacks the resources to deal with. More fascinating and deeply thought characters emerge as Will gets himself dug into the unseen world his brother moved in.

Gone for Good stands out for more reasons than its bright yellow cover. Coben forces his interesting characters through a maze of twists and turns that caught even this over-analyzing reader off guard. A few obvious plot devices only serve to make the true twists all the more surprising. As often happens when reading a good book, I could not wait to get back to it and read more about the characters who so intrigued me. With this book, this behavior lasted several days after I had finished the book, leaving me rather let down that nothing more remained for me to read.

Beneath the suspenseful, twisty plot, Coben manages to attack real psychological and emotional issues in more than just perfunctory ways. The story, a great suspense novel in any case, benefits from compelling character studies of the brothers Klein. Described on the cover as a beach read, Coben accomplishes more than this rather fluffy description implies. The book will leave the reader thinking about it long after reaching the final twist.

Ceridwen Lewin

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