CAUGHT by Harlan Coben

Book Quote:

“Who’s there?”

Suddenly there were other people in the room. A man with a camera. Another with what looked like a boom mike. And the female with a familiar voice, a stunning woman with chestnut brown hair and a business suit.

“Wendy Tynes, NTC News. Why are you here Dan?”

I opened my mouth, nothing came out. I recognized the woman from the TV newsmagazine…

“Why have you been conversing online in a sexual manner with a thirteen-year old girl, Dan? We have your communications with her.”
…the one that sets up and catches pedophiles on camera for all the world to see.

“Are you here to have sex with a thirteen-year-old girl?”

The truth of what was going on there hit me, freezing my bones. Other people flooded the room. Producers maybe. Another cameraman. Two cops. The cameras came in closer. The lights got brighter. Beads of sweat popped up on my brow. I started to stammer, started to deny.

But it was over.

Book Review:

Review by Chuck Barksdale (MAR 23, 2010)

Dan Mercer’s life very quickly changes for the worst as TV newswoman Wendy Tynes catches him going to a meeting with a thirteen-year old girl she pretends to be to lore pedophiles like she thinks Dan is into her trap. Dan is vehement in his innocence and as the reader knows, he thought he was going to help a young girl not to have sex with her. However, in this case, despite the evidence against him, Wendy starts to have some doubt, especially when Dan’s ex-wife and her husband seem so willing to defend him. Dan’s slick lawyer is able to use some legal technicalities to get Dan off from the crimes charged against him, but the community still feels Dan is guilty and he is forced to go into hiding.

At around the same time, 17-year old Haley McWaid a smart, athletic and apparently happy teenager does not return home. Very little is found about her disappearance until evidence points to Dan Mercer when Haley’s phone is found in Dan’s hotel room months after Haley’s disappearance. The phone is found right after Wendy Tynes sees Dan murdered by the father of a child who also claims Dan abused him. Although Dan’s dead body is not found, the police are able to find Dan’s hotel room with the missing phone under his bed.

Wendy’s uncertainty of Dan’s guilt is lessened once Haley McWaid’s cell phone is found in Dan’s room. However during her investigations of Dan’s background, she does talk to some of Dan’s former friends including his Princeton college roommates. Wendy discovers that Dan had lived in a suite with 5 other people all of whom have fallen on hard times, with most having potentially unfounded but damaging claims against them. These unusual circumstances, along with the possible guilt of ruining an innocent man, make Wendy look further to see if Dan is really the guilty pedophile he seems to be.

Caught is told primarily in the third person perspective usually from the perspective of Wendy Tynes. However, the book does start in the first person as Coben gives the reader a chance to see into the mind of Dan Mercer before he is caught by Wendy Tynes. Mercer comes across as someone who truly cares about the youth he spends most of his time helping, adding, at least to the reader, more doubt about Dan’s guilt.

Caught is Harlan Coben’s latest standalone book, the first since Hold Tight (2008) after last year’s latest Myron Bolitar book, Long Lost. As typical of Coben’s books, most of the action in this book takes place in northern New Jersey near where he grew up and not too far from where Coben now lives.

As I mentioned in the Long Lost review, I’ve read all of Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar books, but only one prior non-series book, Tell No One. I thought that Tell No One was better than any of the Bolitar books and was really looking forward to Caught. Although at first, I thought Caught was even better than Tell No One, that feeling did not last throughout the book and by the end although I was not disappointed, I did not think it held up as well. Caught certainly has the great suspense and twists but I was less surprised at the end than I thought I would be. This is not to say that the book was not good or that the ending easily determined, just that a twist was expected. Overall, though, this was a very good book and one that keeps you interested from the beginning to the end.

One thing that is not very prevalent in Harlan Coben’s standalone books is the humor that is a key part of the Myron Bolitar series. Of course Caught is a serious book that also addresses serious issues about missing children and child molesters so the chance for humor is limited. However, look for a friend of Myron Bolitar who  is fun and enjoyable to make a cameo appearance.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 272 readers
PUBLISHER: Dutton Adult (March 23, 2010)
REVIEWER: Chuck Barksdale
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Harlan CobenWikipedia on Harlan Coben
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

From the Myron Bolitar series:


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Mickey Bolitar (young adult series)

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March 23, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Thriller/Spy/Caper, US Mid-Atlantic, y Award Winning Author

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