Harlan Coben, the New Jersey master of mystery has just released his block-busting end of aisle crowd pleaser Stay Close.
As Crimeziners and regular readers of the Coben oeuvre are sure to know, the big man is a master of the lost love/family values gone awry mystery. He alternates these so called, standalone tales, with his Myron Bolitar Sports Agent/Detective series, which Crimezine love, love, loves.
Stay Close features the story of dark-secret soccer mom Megan Peirce and her desire to catch up with her stripper past, on the seedy side of Atlantic City. Poor Megan, her life is fluffier than a cable-knit sweater that grandma made, and still she isn’t happy.
Natch, when she returns to her former stomping ground, she gets pulled into an unresolved murder case that gets ugly and quick. Worse, her former fling, drink sodden snapper Ray Levine is embroiled in the nefarious goings on too.
Will Megan’s marriage to Dull Dave, the faithful, but unexciting father of her two lovely children be left in the lurch? Let’s hope not shoppers…
Fear not however Crimeziners, the astonishingly slow-witted but unremittingly nice detective Broome is on the case, and after close to four hundred pages the nice Det. Broome manages to sweep up the loose ends quite nicely.
But what of the characteristic Coben wit I hear you ask. Usually his one-off efforts are far more restrained than his Bolitar mysteries. He was unable to restrain himself here however, and there are a number of delicious comedy moments that Cobie fans will treasure. Crimezine was particularly fond of the His ‘n’ Hers hit team called Ken and Barbie [Chortle] who delight in torture and Christian summer camp—we kid you not Crimeziners!
What Crimezine enjoyed less, was the fluffy bunny characterization thickly layered throughout this book. We realize the dark yang of serial killer subculture needs a frothy ying topping of frappuccino family values—end of aisle soccer moms would be barfing up their breakfast bagels otherwise. But please, let’s get real, we are talking suburbia here—it’s not a Sunday supplement advertorial for glossy happy-family-dom.
On the plus side, the denouments of Stay Close are typically twisted for Coben and they will no doubt have feminists everywhere cheering in the aisles, which is a real turn-up for a sick-puppy serial killer book.
Crimezine has therefore resolved to stay clear of Ralph’s bestseller section for the foreseeable future. Mercifully our white picket fence offers a small level of protection, but we know it won’t hold for long.