Friday, December 11, 2009

Promise Me - by Harlan Coben

"Promise Me" is another installment of Harlan Coben's basketball star turned sports/talent agent with "extra" skills, Myron Bolitar. At a party, Myron overhears part of a conversation with two teenaged girls. In an effort to prevent them ever from riding in a car with friends (or others) who have been drinking, he ends up asking them to call him, if ever in trouble, and he will come and get them with no strings (or questions) attached. When, at a later date, one of the girls, Aimee Biel, takes him up on his offer, Bolitar picks her up as he said he would. After dropping her off, though, supposedly at her friend's house, she disappears. Although Myron's friends have cautioned him against trying to save people, he must jump into this mystery with both feet. He feels a duty to Aimee, her parents, and himself to find out what happened and make sure she's okay.

Harlan Coben does a skillful job of weaving a suspenseful thriller by methodically uncovering a set of intriguing clues that Myron eventually pieces together to uncover the truth. He utilizes and further develops a cast of characters in this novel with real complexity and depth. From his best friend, Windsor Horne Lockwood III (Win), to his business partner and friend Esperanza, to his quirky parents whom he aspires to become, to his former and current love interests (Jessica and Ali respectively), to county investigator Lauren Mews from other Coben tales, to unorthodox friend Big Cyndi, and to all of the Livingston, New Jersey area based personalities Myron encounters in pursuit of this case, they all are quintessentially human with strengths and weaknesses, talents and faults, and non-trivial backgrounds. One some plane, Myron (and hence the reader) empathizes with all of them. Much of the appeal of this book is experiencing Myron's internal conflict with issues that have no easy answers.

On Harlan Coben's web-page for this book (, the author says, "I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. I wanted to write a gut-wrenching suspense thriller that would top all of my stand-alones. And I wanted to write a book that would be uniquely Myron. I think I did that with Promise Me." Well, I agree. This was indeed a very good book.

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