Stay Close by Harlan Coben

Stay Close
Harlan Coben
Dutton Adult
2012, 400 pgs
Purchased Hardcover

Book Summary from Goodreads

Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Now she’s got two kids, a perfect husband, a picket fence, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but at age forty he finds himself in a dead-end job posing as a paparazzo pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids. Jack is a detective who can’t let go of a cold case—a local husband and father disappeared seventeen years ago, and Jack spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man’s family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them. Three people living lives they never wanted, hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect, will find that the past doesn’t recede. Even as the terrible consequences of long-ago events crash together in the present and threaten to ruin lives, they will come to the startling realization that they may not want to forget the past at all. And as each confronts the dark side of the American Dream—the boredom of a nice suburban life, the excitement of temptation, the desperation and hunger that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades—they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper-thin as a heartbeat. With his trademark combination of page-turning thrills and unrivaled insight into the dark shadows that creep into even the happiest communities, Harlan Coben delivers a thriller that cements his status as the master of domestic suspense.

My Summary

I’ve been trying to summarize this book for over a week and have come to the conclusion  that I can’t beat the Goodreads description without giving too much away.  So here are the things I liked in bullet points:

  • Stay Close is perfectly paced.  It’s suspenseful and moves quickly without being scattered (the previous Harlan Coben felt a little ADD to me).
  • I didn’t figure out “who done it” until I was told, but the clues were totally available to figure it out.  Masterful misdirection.
  • I cared about all of the main characters, even though they had flaws.  Megan, Ray, and Jack each had their own issues, but wanted to do the right thing.
  • These books are the equivalent of a horror movie for me where in my head I’m yelling at the characters “Don’t go in there” and they do anyway.  I don’t like it in movies, but Coben makes it work in his books.
  • Fascinating secondary characters (Ken and Barbie).  Coben is consistent in giving the reader interesting characters on every level of the narrative.
  • Good contrast on the different value placed on privacy depending on the perspective of the person.  On the one hand you have Megan/Ray/Jack trying desperately to keep her secrets private contrasted with Ray working as a paparazzo for hire (people pay him to follow them around so they can pretend they are famous).

8 out of 10 stars


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