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Stay Close    by Harlan Coben order for
Stay Close
by Harlan Coben
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Harlan Coben has long been one of today's top thriller writers, for his gripping, thought-provoking standalones (like Caught and Hold Tight) as well as his Myron Bolitar novels. In Stay Close, he masterfully portrays the violent intersection of several lives, overshadowed by past events.

Megan Pierce is content with her reinvented life as a suburban soccer mom living 'the ultimate American dream', and would do nothing to undo it. She loves her husband Dave and is fiecely protective of her two children, but still occasionally yearns for the excitement of her past life. When someone calls her home asking for Cassie, Megan is chilled and sets up a meeting in Atlantic City, where a cop has never given up looking for her.

Documentary photographer Ray Levine lost himself years ago in 'That horrible moment - the moment Ray's life changed completely, transforming him from a man with a future and aspirations into this Grade-A loser you see in front of you'. Now he plays the role of paparazzi at bar mitzvah parties. Ray's life begins to change again after one party, when he's robbed and his camera stolen - on 'the anniversary of all that blood'. He takes action.

Detective Jack Broome has long been haunted by a cold case, the disappearance of a husband and father seventeen years before. Jack had kept in touch with Sarah Broome on every anniversary. Now he has found a pattern of nine other men who have gone missing around the same time of year.

Harlan Coben weaves these plot threads together as Jack Broome continues digging, and both Megan and Ray are pulled back into the shadows of their pasts. A powerful man wants answers and hires a perky young Bible Thumper duo of cold killers (who look anything but) to get them. A senior police officer sells information, leading to torture and death. And violence intrudes on Megan's happy domesticity.

But, as always in a Coben thriller, the conclusion is a big surprise, one that's very hard to see coming. And, for everyone involved, 'It's time to move on'. Don't miss Stay Close, a stupendous read.

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