Source: Review copy, Netgalley
Publication: 21st March 2019 from Cornerstone
She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. You haven’t seen her in six months.
Then you find her busking in New York’s Central Park.
But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is frail, filthy, terrified, and in more trouble than you ever imagined.
You don’t stop to think. You approach her. You beg her to come home.
You follow. What choice do you have? And as you descend into the dark, dangerous world she’s lost herself in, you quickly find yourself out of your depths. Down here, no-one is safe – and now both of you might never make it out alive…
Harlan Coben clearly loves to write about solid, middle class, comfortable American families and then make something pretty dreadful happen to them. It feels all the more terrible because his families have everything that should make them safe and comfortable, but once Coben gets his hands on them, secrets start to leech out; violence edges ever closer, and a family with no need to be resilient finds itself reaching down to its primal roots to find out what its really made of.
And so it is with Run Away, Coben’s latest book, published in the UK today.
Simon Greene works as a financial advisor on Wall Street and his wife Ingrid is a pediatrician in NYC. They have three children,
Sam, Anya and Paige. They have eschewed the move to Conneticut, preferring to live in the cool that is NYC with all its access to art and culture.
Their eldest daughter Paige used to be a model student, serious, academic but enjoying life. Now she is a junkie, living with Aaron, her dealer who is clearly abusive.
Simon is in Strawberry Fields one day when he spots Paige busking, but when he approaches her to beg her to come home, his world starts to crumble and it is not long before the family are sucked into the seedy underbelly of NYC’s drug world.
Another hallmark of Coben’s stand-alone writing is the way he loves to play six degrees of separation with his plots. So as we are introduced to two, seemingly unconnected hard boiled assassins and we watch them follow a trail of brutal murder, we are already wondering how this pair will inter-connect with our middle class New Yorkers and their fragile daughter.
This is, of course, where Coben works his magic. He gives us characters we identify and empathise with. Then he pulls their lives apart so that we can see what they are really made of. And once we know what’s going on, he throws us several curve balls so that what we thought we knew, is not really what we knew at all.
Coben’s story is well plotted, his language sharp, and his characters well drawn. His writing is as smooth as whipped butter and his misdirection is beautifully judged. Just as we grasp the plot, we find that Coben has deftly pulled the rug out from under our feet and left us gasping as we finally understand the whole picture.
Verdict: As ever, an entertaining, surprising tale with more twists than a pretzel.
With over 60 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last seven consecutive novels, MISSING YOU, SIX YEARS, STAY CLOSE, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.
Coben is the winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – and he has received an eclectic variety of honors from all over the world. His novel TELL NO ONE has been turned into a hit French film of the same name. His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications.
Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.