I have read several books by well known authors recently where you are left feeling at the end that the book really did not measure up to their previous efforts and lacked a certain sparkle. David Baldacci and Patricia Cornwell are two that immediately spring to mind. However, no one can accuse Harlan Coben of failing to deliver as Caught is definitely up to standard and is an absorbing read.
The story starts with a young girl going missing and the unmasking of an apparent pedophile by a television reporter who specializes in such sting operations. However, as always nothing is as straight forward as it appears and the truth is both fascinating and complex. Coben weaves an interesting tale and every time you feel you have the plot cracked there is another unexpected twist or turn which keeps the interest engaged right up to the end.
This is one of those books where there is a compulsion to continue reading and it is very hard to put down. Most readers, and not just Coben fans, will enjoy this one.
on 19 March 2011
I have read all of Harlan Coben's previous novels and literally couldn't put them down from start to finish but...not this one.
It was a good read but for me it didn't come close to what I was expecting.
on 18 May 2010
Why why why has Hollywood not knocked down Harlan Coben's door ?
All the ingredients are here a missing girl, suburban secrets, an ordinary person sucked into extraordinary circumstances, the ambitious journalist, the determined cop.
add a few twists and 1 large final twist and it's this years perfect beach companion
Ok so Harlan Coben's books are similar but he has the formula or recipe down to a fine art that he consistently delivers a great page turner thriller every year
A 17 year old girl has gone missing there are no clues to why this high achieving girl from a loving family should have disappeared.
Reporter Wendy Tynes a TV reporter who sets up and traps on camera paedophiles but has she got it wrong with her latest victim ?
For fans of his there is even a Cameo from a certain rich playboy and brief mention of a couple of other characters from previous books
If you plan to read this by the pool or on the beach make sure you use factor 60
because as always once you start this book you are going to find it hard to put down
I read this when it first came out in 2010 and had forgotten most of the plot so it was good to re-read it. It's mainly about Dan whose accused of paedophilia although he strongly denies it but the evidence is stacked against him there's also the matter of a missing girl and suspicion falls squarely on his shoulders. The sub-plot involving his old college colleagues adds another interesting twist to the tale and you need to be vigilant not to loose the plot , but if you manage it's an immensely satisfying read. Highly recommended
on 10 January 2011
I have read all Harlan Coben's (HC) books and found the majority of them of the highest order.
With HC what you see is what you get and the quality is usually consistently high.
I partcularly like the Myron Bolitar and friends series although the books which use other characters have been excellent i.e. The Woods and Tell No One.
I therefore looked forward to reading Caught and thought the storyline sonded very interesting (maybe a bit like Tell No One).
Having finished it I have to report that I was hugely disappointed.
The main characters were flaky, the relationships between Wendy, Charlie and Pops were contrived if not downright yuccy.
The story was OK although Harlan Coben writing as Wendy and assuming female traits, emotions et al didn't work (he almost parodied how women feel, think and act).
Others have summarised the story exremely well but if this is your first venture into HC please don't think that this is illustrative of other great books he has turned out.
Try The Woods and Tell No One and almost any featuring Myron Bolitar.
Hope that this helps!!
on 11 March 2014
Not up to this author's usual high standard.. I got exactly half way through and lost interest completely.
Like many other ultimately disappointing thrillers it starts well and you can't put it down. Then it loses its way with the introduction of too many minor characters and a slowing down of the pace.
This is the second Coben novel I've failed to finish (the other being "Tell No One".
I shall continue reading this author's works though on the strengh of "Gone For Good" and am just about to start "Stay Close".
on 20 July 2012
It's actually proved quite difficult for me to write a decent synopsis/review of this one. The plot is really quite complicated! The opening chapter follows Dan Mercer, a social worker who helps disadvantaged children, as he answers a call from a distressed teenage girl. The situation turns out to be a set-up, a sting by news reporter Wendy Tynes and her crew who are working on a project to catch paedophiles in the local community. Incriminating photos and e-mails are found on Dan's computer, and though he is never actually convicted due to a technicality, his reputation and life are ruined. But information comes to light that makes Wendy reconsider and doubt her conviction that Dan is guilty...
There is a whole lot more to this plot and at times it does feel rather convoluted. A missing girl, a vigilante father, a group of old Princeton graduates, Wendy's own struggle to come to terms with the death of her husband at the wheels of a drink driver many years ago. I enjoyed it, certainly, but there is a hell of a lot going on and it all got a bit distracting. The end of the book made me dizzy with the sheer number of twists and turns required to pull all the plot strands together! I also didn't understand why the book is split into two parts, when part two essentially carries straight on from part one. I was impressed with the conclusion as it takes real talent to tie up so many loose ends neatly without leaving any gaps or unresolved issues. OK, so it felt a little far-fetched, but was just about plausible - and who doesn't like their fiction to occasionally be a smidgen far-fetched anyway?
Sometimes with crime novels a simple concept with a simple solution can be the most powerful and surprising. That's why I enjoyed this, but didn't love it. I will definitely be reading more by Harlan Coben though as I am sure this does not represent his writing at its very best!
on 14 August 2011
If you are already aware of Cobens work, you will read this book expecting twists and turns in the plot and a fast paced read. While this book does have a few of those lovely little twists, there definitely was no where near as much action, or 'on the edge of my seat' racing moments as I've come to expect from his books.
There are quite a few characters, who were all described well, some of which giving us a comedy aspect which is another of Cobens trademarks - look out for Ten-A-Fly! I always warm to Cobens main character, this book is no exception, Wendy is a very strong willed, confident woman, with a witty, if somewhat slightly sarcastic, sense of humour. I always expect reality to be stretched a little in these kind of stories, but Wendy certainly seemed to find it extremely easy to pick up information that no-one else (not even the police) had noticed and she also made amazingly helpful and knowledgable aquaintances very easily. Too easy, especially as she seemed to also need a lot of help from her seventeen year old son with using something as simple as Facebook. I don't expect storylines such as this to be 100% believable, but sometimes this was stretched a bit too far for my liking. Another thing that bothered me was that we were given too much of Wendys thoughts and feelings. Many of these meanderings were about how much she loved her son so considering the story deals with a teenagers disapearance there is some relevance, but after a while it just felt a little bit like he was just padding the book out.
At the beginning there were some characters that I found interesting, but aside from the strong start, their involvement just petered out. I was left expecting more.
I did like the inclusion of a couple of familiar characters from Cobens Myron Bolitar series of books, Hester Criemstein and the enigmatic Win. Neither had a very big part, just enough in my opinion to explain why their skills were necessary, but not enough to detract from the fact that this is a stand alone novel.
Overall it's an intriguing story, the plot twists were good, two of which I didn't see coming and one I did! I liked the opening paragraphs too, which were a little unexpected and quickly hooked me in. I also like how Coben isn't too soft with his characters and isn't afraid to shock us, without being overly graphic. This is definitely worth a read, it's just that his other books are better and I certainly wouldn't encourage this as an introduction to Cobens work.
on 3 August 2011
When the mother of seventeen-year-old Hayley McWaid discovers her daughter's empty bed one morning, she is horrified to discover her daughter did not return home the night before. Hayley has never gave her parents any trouble and to not return home or contact them is totally out of character for the teenager.
Three months pass and her parents are no closer to discovering what has happened to their daughter and by this time everyone is assuming the worst.
Meanwhile TV reporter Wendy Tynes is feeling very pleased with herself. Her mission to catch paedophiles via televised sting operations for her TV programme "Caught in the Act" proves successful when her latest target, a social worker for troubled teenagers called Dan Mercer is successfully 'caught' as a result of her latest sting operation. Does this mean that Mercer could be involved with the disappearance of Hayley McWaid?
Wendy soon realises that Mercer's story is far more complicated than she could have imagined and all isn't as it seems. Trouble is... it may be too late to uncover the truth as things quickly spiral out of control.
Wendy finds herself caught up in things she cannot explain, but becomes determined to uncover the truth after realising she cannot trust her instincts anymore.
'Caught' is another tense thriller. I once again became gripped by the storyline and found it very difficult to put the book down, however, I did find for the first time I was struggling to like the main character of the book, which is Wendy Tynes. Usually the main character in Coben's books are male and although he has written and developed a number of very good female characters in his novels, this time around I found I couldn't quite get away with the character of Wendy.
Right from the start I found her somewhat irritating as a strong-willed, know-it-all TV reporter who thinks she is doing everyone a favour by setting traps to catch sexual predators, but isn't prepared for what may happen should she make a mistake.
Wendy is also a mother herself and has a tendency to treat her own teenage son like a child which added further to her irritating qualities, along with the amount of time she spends working, which only increases as she turns investigator to try and uncover the truth after realising she may have made a big mistake.
Fortunately, after realising she can't trust her own instincts, I did find myself warming a little to Wendy, as a more understanding and less judgemental side is shown to her character.
The only thing I found a little far-fetched was how quickly Wendy was able to get any information she wanted it seemed and how she was allowed to continue her 'investigation'. Whilst it widely known that reporters are able to obtain information through 'contacts' etc, I found the ease and speed at which she achieved this at times to be unrealisitic, but of course that is just my personal opinion. I have no experience myself of such things and accept I could be wrong!
Coben delivers, as always, his twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and I was pleased to see here another of his traits - the mention or inclusion of characters from past books. Here we have criminal lawyer Hester Crimstein making another brilliant appearance, as well as little mentions of Loren Muse, Paul Copeland and 'Win' from previous books. It does not matter if you have not read any of Coben's novels before or know of these characters, as their inclusion will not confuse you or make you feel you have missed something. Their inclusion to those like myself who are familiar with them, I find is just simply a nice touch.
The story moves along at a decent pace, the tension building steadily throughout and then towards the end, a couple of great moments as the story takes on yet another twist. I found the plot quite believable as we are all familiar with TV and newspaper reporters setting traps to catch people out, but it isn't always a good thing if they don't get their facts right. Also it is a sad and sickening fact that sex offenders do exist.
The inclusion of social networking site Facebook in the storyline, is another nod to how the internet has good or useful websites that can provide a lot of enjoyment to their users, but unfortunately they can also be dangerous.
The thing Coben manages to convey very well in this book is that mud sticks and once rumours begin or people are wrongly accused, then it can ruin lives.
Caught is another good thriller from Harlan Coben. Whilst it is not the best book he has written in my opinion, which I must point out is purely down to the character of Wendy, I still found it a gripping read and one I would recommend.
on 30 June 2010
I first picked up a Harlan Coben novel a few years ago and was bowled over by it. Tell no one was sharp and dynamic and everything that you could want from a thriller and here he adapts a similar approach with multiple protagonists and a sharp and frequently exciting and often controversial agenda to its subplots.
Caught, his first release this 2010 year, opens with a point of view from a middle aged guy hoping to see his younger friend to see if she is alright in her house. What transcends epitomises Coben's work as what we as readers perceive is further from the truth. Once again there are an array of different characters in different circumstances and unless gripped you may lose track of who is who.
Thankfully Coben grips the reader into a tale of deception, murder, criminal convictions, stalkers and family divorces and the blood is always pumping through relative short chapters and a forever moving forward narrative.
Coben's development over the years has to bring a simple yet effective idea to his stories which is start in the present add an implication and bring the past into the present through family, mysteries and shockers that will produce many open mouthed impressions especially at the end of this novel, which is quite fantastical for a thriller but different anyway.
The only negative points I can summarise are the lack of grip in the middle part where the plot is often seen going over points established and the tempo isn't as high as Tell N One or Long Lost for example.
But come the end this will not matter as you will have enjoyed a sharp twisting specific novel that also adds amazing controversy, just look at the Facebook profile account section and the stalker ideologies to see what I mean.
Great read and fans should certainly take note.