Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Hold Tight

Title: Hold Tight

Author: Harlan Coben

Number of pages: 416

Started: 4 July 2008

Finished: 8 July 2008

Opening words:

Marianne nursed her third shot of Cuervo, marveling at her endless capacity to destroy
any good in her pathetic life, when the man next to her shouted, “Listen up, sweetcakes:
Creationism and evolution are totally compatible.”
His spittle landed on Marianne’s neck. She made a face and shot the man a quick glance.
He had a big bushy mustache straight out of a seventies porn flick. He sat on her right.
The overbleached blonde with brittle hair of straw he was trying to impress with this
stimulating banter was on her left. Marianne was the unlucky luncheon meat in their badpickup
She tried to ignore them. She peered into her glass as if it were a diamond she was sizing
up for an engagement ring. Marianne hoped that it would make the mustache man and
straw-haired woman disappear. It didn’t.
“You’re crazy,” Straw Hair said.
“Hear me out.”
“Okay, I’ll listen. But I think you’re crazy.”
Marianne said, “Would you like to switch stools, so you can be next to one another?”
Mustache put a hand on her arm. “Just hold on, little lady, I want you to hear this too.”
Marianne was going to protest, but it might be easier not to. She turned back to her drink.
“Okay,” Mustache said, “you know about Adam and Eve, right?”
“Sure,” Straw Hair said.
“You buy that story?”
“The one where he was the first man and she was the first woman?”
“Hell, no. You do?”
“Yes, of course.” He petted his mustache as if it were a small rodent that needed calming.
“The Bible tells us that’s what happened. First came Adam, then Eve was formed out of
his rib.”
Marianne drank. She drank for many reasons. Most of the time it was to party. She had
been in too many places like this, looking to hook up and hoping it would come to more.
Tonight, though, the idea of leaving with a man held no interest. She was drinking to
numb and damn it if it wasn’t working. The mindless chatter, once she let go, was
distracting. Lessened the pain.

Plot summary:

How well do you really know your child?
Tia and Mike Baye never imagined they’d spy on their kids. But their sixteen-year-old son Adam has been unusually distant lately, and after the suicide of his best friend Spencer Hill, they can’t help but worry. Within days of installing a sophisticated spy program on Adam’s computer they are jolted by a cryptic message from an unknown correspondent that shakes them to their core: “Just stay quiet and all safe.”
As if Mike Baye isn’t dealing with enough, he also learns that Lucas Loriman, the sweet kid who grew up next door, is in urgent need of a kidney transplant. As the boy’s doctor, Mike suddenly finds himself in possession of an explosive secret that threatens to rip the Loriman family apart at the seams.
Nearby, while browsing through an online memorial for Spencer, Betsy Hill discovers a surprising detail about the night of her son’s death. Before she can find out more, Adam disappears, taking the truth with him and sending shockwaves through the neighborhood.
As the lives of these families collide in tragic, unexpected, and violent ways, long-hidden connections in their small suburb begin to work their way to the surface. And when an unidentified Jane Doe is beaten to death not far away, those connections threaten to turn this quiet community upside down—and force these desperate parents to decide whether there is any line they won’t cross to protect those they love most in the world.
Summary from Harlan Coben’s website.

What I thought:

A good read. I like Harlan Coben’s books (his standalone ones, I’m not so keen on the Myron Bolitar ones) and I would add this one to the list. His books tend to follow a formula someone goes missing or is dead and then turns up (or do they?) years later. This one doesn’t actually follow that formula, but is an interesting read, although quite violent in places. I think maybe it didn’t engage me quite as much as some of his other books, but it had the usual theme of family bonds and what can break them, which is always interesting to see his take on.

It did have a very complicated plot though and in essence two stories running in parallel. At times I couldn’t remember who all the different characters were and wished that I had taken notes and drawn a diagram of the connections. If you read it, I suggest you have a pad and paper to hand to keep up – or maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention! A quick and easy read that wasn’t as good as some of his others but it was engaging and worth a read.

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