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I am a big fan of Harlan Coben and have read all his books and currently awaiting the publication of his new stand alone novel. Gone For Good is another of his page-turning thrillers which held me captivated from start to finish.
The story's narrative features Will Klein, the youngest son of the Klein family from New Jersey. Just before his mother dies, she tells him that his older brother Ken is still alive. Ken is believed to be dead since disappearing eleven years earlier, after being charged with the rape and murder of a local girl, who also happened to be Will's first love. The family have chosen to believe he was dead, but it appears his mother knew different, yet kept it to herself. After her death from cancer, Will finds a photograph which he believes could be a recent photograph of his brother, and begins his search for the truth.
This is where things start to happen, as Will's girlfriend, Sheila who he loves dearly, disappears leaving him only a rather cryptic note. Will is then notified her fingerprints have been found at a murder scene in New Mexico and she is suspected of murder by the FBI. Feeling both confused and devastated, Will enlists the help of his friends from Covenant House, the place for runaway and troubled teens who he works for, as he begins his search for the truth.
As Will begins his search for his brother and the truth of what happened eleven years ago, he uncovers lies, betrayal and family secrets, all of which have been hidden away until now. Relationships with his family become strained as he is seen as becoming obsessed with the past and not taken seriously. But are his family also hiding secrets or are they just wanting to get on with their lives? From the start I believed the character of his father would be a key factor in the plot, but I found myself changing my mind then changing it back again throught the book as Coben does what he excels at - keeping you guessing right until the end!
Will won't stop until he uncovers the truth, which in usual Coben -style is never what you think it will be.
There are one or two other characters in this book worthy of mention also. One, an old friend of Will's brother Ken and known as 'The Ghost' is a chilling character and also a very violent man who will do whatever it takes to protect his interests, along with fellow bad guy, McGuane, another old friend of Ken. I loved 'The Ghost' character, definitely one of Coben's best 'bad guys' he has came up with.
There is also Will's good friend 'Squares' who teaches Yoga, a transvestite named Wanda, and also a disabled bed-ridden former pimp thrown in for good measure. It may seem a bit random, but they are an integral part of the story and all become linked together at the end, even though you may find yourself wondering how! Coben is indeed the master of the sub plot and is brilliant at linking everything together after building up the suspense. A lot of detail has been paid to the characters, they are well developed and you may even find yourself warming a little to the bad guys.
As the story goes on, Will realises nothing is as it seems as the search for his brother becomes a search for a killer, a victim and the truth. Will finds that he also did not know his girlfriend as well as he thought. What secrets had she been hiding? Will finds himself unsure of exactly who he can trust and also becomes increasingly in danger as his quest for answers unfolds.
As is usual with Coben novels, you are guaranteed many twists and turns before you reach the end and 'Gone For Good' is no exception. I had no idea how it would end. Any slight inclination I thought I had about how the story would end proved to be wrong. Another thing I particularly enjoy about Coben's work is that it is not over the top or far fetched. This book, along with his other work, has a believable quality to the plot which keeps you gripped without thinking to yourself : "There's no way that could happen!"
I literally could not put this book down until I had finished it. Coben's writing flowed from page to page, the suspense and danger slowly building to the climax. I can thoroughly recommend you acquaint yourself with Harlan Coben if you enjoy a good thriller.
Paperback: 400 pages Publisher: Orion; New edition edition (6 Jan 2003) ISBN-10: 0752849123
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