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Shelter    by Harlan Coben order for
by Harlan Coben
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

This is the first YA mystery by award-winning mystery writer, Harlan Coben. It is a spin-off from the Myron Bolitar series. Mickey Bolitar is Myron's nephew. He's living with his uncle, the famous sports agent, because his dad recently died in a car accident. Mickey had never met Myron until recently. The only thing he knows about his uncle is that he and his dad had a falling out about the time his dad married his mother.

His dad's job took the family to countries around the world. At fifteen, Mickey wants to spend his high school years in the States playing basketball and making lasting friendships before he goes away to college. His desire to live a normal life sets off a chain of events that ends with his dad dead, his mother in a drug rehab program, and Mickey left in the care of an uncle he dislikes and doesn't trust.

The school year doesn't get off to a great start. On his first day at orientation for new students, he meets Ema and Ashley. Ema, always an outcast because of her weight and goth appearance, thinks his attempt to befriend her is motivated by pity. Ashley is happy to have a new friend but within days, she vanishes.

Most small towns have a bat lady, an old woman who lives in a dilapidated house, is rarely if ever seen, and is said to kidnap unsuspecting children. The Bat Lady in Mickey's neighborhood lives just a few doors away. One day she steps out her door just as he is passing. She points at him, calling him by name. 'Your dad isn't dead.' Mickey knows it's not true. He saw his dad die. He doesn't know how she knows his name or understand why she would lie to him.

Although he doesn't know Ashley well, Mickey refuses to allow anyone else to disappear from his life, so he begins an investigation into her whereabouts. His quest for the quiet, shy girl he was just getting to know, plus the few words the bat lady spoke, lead him to the underbelly of Newark.

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