February 2010

Wikipedia reveals that Harlan Coben and Dan Brown were frat brothers at Amherst University. Whether Wikipedia should be taken at its word or not, there is another good reason to link Coben and Brown. They both know how to keep you turning the pages. Coben has been working particularly hard at it, publishing a thriller a year since his first (of nine) Myron Bolitar novels in 1995. This wise-cracking sport agent cum sleuth has earned him Edgar, Anthony and Shamus Awards in the crime/mystery genre.  His most famous stand alone novel, Tell No One, was made in to a highly acclaimed movie by French writer/director, Guillaume Canet and recently aired on the BBC.

Perhaps we chose the wrong one of his books.  Though The Woods is a lively read with a precarious court case interweaving the main story, neither the characters nor the plot had any ‘special identifying features’ to distinguish them from any other murder mystery ensemble.  In its favour, Coben showed, quite plausibly, the lengths each would go to protect family.

Paul ‘Cope’ Copeland, the county prosecutor in Essex, New Jersey, is coping pretty well with the death of his wife and raising his 6 year old daughter.  The murder of his teenage sister 20 years before has coloured his whole adult life, but her killer has been in jail for some time. Then a man’s body turns up, linked to his sister’s death, and the cops ask him where he was the night before.

All of our Book Circle found The Woods well constructed and fast-paced, if a little predictable, and those of us who enjoy crime fiction will give Coben another go. His Bolitar character looks interesting and by all accounts his plots are considered some of the most intriguing in the genre.

We meet again on Thursday 11th March when we shall discuss The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

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