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DON’T LET GO by Harlan Coben: Book Review

Napoleon Dumas has been haunted by two things for over fifteen years.  First are the deaths of his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana, second is the disappearance of Nap’s girlfriend Maura.  To some of his friends, Nap seems to have been frozen by these two terrible events; he abandoned his college plans, which included a possible hockey scholarship, lives alone in the house in which he grew up, and never has had another important romantic relationship since the traumatic events at the end of his high school senior year.

Don’t Let Go opens in a Pennsylvania bar.  Daisy, a strikingly attractive woman, comes into the bar alone and seats herself next to a man, asking if he minds if she sits there because someone is bothering her.  The man, whose name and backstory she already knows, seemingly doesn’t care one way or another, but Daisy pushes and keeps the conversation going through the several drinks that the man consumes.  After the fourth drink, Daisy’s plan is set.

She asks the man if he can drive her home, and he agrees.  It’s all part of an intricate scam designed by a divorce attorney and carried out by Daisy’s friend, Rex Canton, a policeman in the town.  Daisy and the “mark” will get into his car, drive a couple of blocks, and Rex will pull them over and do a sobriety test.  It’s a setup so that the man gets a DUI conviction on his record, which will work against him in the divorce case that his wife has initiated.  But this time, when Rex stops the car, the driver pulls a gun, kills the cop, and drives off with Daisy.

That’s the prologue to Don’t Let Go, and I defy anyone who reads it to put down the book at this point.

Nap is a detective on a suburban police force in New Jersey.  He’s good, very good, at his job, but he’s consumed by the death of his twin.  Everything he does, every action he takes, he “tells” Leo about it, as if looking for approval.  And when two police officers from Pennsylvania ring Nap’s doorbell to tell him about Rex’s murder and the fingerprints found on the scene, Nap knows that this is what he’s been waiting for.  The fingerprints belong to Maura, missing for eighteen years but now coming back into Nap’s life.  Several years earlier Nap put Maura’s prints into a national registry, asking to be notified if newer prints were found; now it’s proof that Maura is alive and not far away.

Nap and Leo were incredibly close in high school, and Nap would have said he knew everything there was to know about his twin.  But, as he gets drawn more deeply into Rex’s murder and the appearance/non-appearance of Maura, Nap is finding out there was much more in Leo’s life, and in Maura’s as well, of which he was totally unaware.  And it appears that every event–the double deaths, Rex’s murder, Maura’s return, and a secret high school club that Nap never knew about–are all connected.

Harlan Coben has written another taut, suspenseful thriller.  Don’t Let Go is a completely satisfying novel that will keep you guessing until the very end.

You can read more about Harlan Coben at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.