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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Fictional Crushes

I have so many fictional crushes.   To be clear I have a broad interpretation of the word “crush”.   Yes, I’m talking about fictional men I wish weren’t fictional so they were date-able, but I’m also talking about women I really want to be friends with.  And across all mediums – Books, TV, Movies.

Sometimes I wonder if it damages my dating life cause non-fictional guys just can’t measure up!  

Here are a few of my favorites:

Myron Bolitar is the main character in a series by Harlan Coben.   I’ll get the obvious stuff out of the way first – he passes the obviously list:  Tall, funny, smart, and kind.  Top it off with former college athlete, owns his own business, and very family oriented and I’m just head over heels.  He has two “nerdy” traits.  First, he likes to play original TV Batman trivia with his best friend and second he’s 30 and still lives with his parents.  But he still lives at home because he likes his parents – not because he’s  a deadbeat so it’s actually kind of attractive (in fiction – it might freak me out in a guy I actually met).

Veronica Mars played by Kristen Bell.   I wish I was half as confident as Veronica.   She’s hated/mocked by half her school and is still confident enough to talk to anyone.  She sticks her foot in her mouth occasionally (or frequently), gets embarrassed but then moves on and doesn’t let it phase her.   As a side note – this has phased into a girl crush on Kristen Bell.  Seriously she’s hilarious – you can waste a day watching YouTube clips of her on the late shows.  Not to mention the sloth video!

Lincoln, Beth, and Jennifer from Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.   Is it weird to be slightly jealous of a fictional character (Beth) because another fictional character (Lincoln) likes her.   I identified with Lincoln quite a bit.  I loved when his mother told him he had a problem with school.  Because he just kept going back for more degrees.  I want to do that so bad.  If I won the lottery I’m fairly certain I would just be a professional student – lots and lots of bachelors and no advanced degrees.  Plus yes he hits the trifecta of tall, smart and nice.   

By the end of the book I felt like I was friends with Beth and Jennifer.   Their conversations were so real.  Sometimes I’d have deja vu because I had very similar conversations with my friends.   Beth and Jennifer’s conversations are the perfect combination of funny and supportive.


Jennifer: 
Did Chris notice that you couldn’t face him?
Beth: No, there was no face time. He fell asleep before I could ask him how practice went. A long night grinding the ax takes it out of you.
Jennifer: Ew. Is that a euphemism for masturb@tion?
Beth: No. I think it’s @ euphemism for pl@ying the electric guit@r. Or @n idiom. I don’t know. Do you really think “masturbation” is one of Tron’s red-flag words?
Jennifer: Well, it doesn’t matter now. If we get fired because you insist on poking th dragon, you’re going to have to support me and my pricey Baby Gap habit.
Beth:          1. Poking the dragon. Is that another masturbation reference?
                       2. Baby Gap. Still?
Jennifer: 1. Ha.
                       2. Still. Last weekend, I scored a celery green snowsuit with matching mittens for  $3.99!
Beth: Green is a smart choice – good for an imaginary girl or an imaginary boy. And the season isn’t at all relevant for imaginary children.
Jennifer: Exactly. I don’t even go to the adult Gap anymore. Once you’re an imaginary mother, it’s hard to take time for yourself.

Ed Stevens played by Tom Cavanagh on the TV show Ed. Ed is a corporate lawyer in New York. His girlfriend cheats on him and then he gets fired (he missed a comma in a contract – it was an expensive comma). He heads back to his hometown to regroup and runs into some of his old friends and sees the girl he had a crush on in high school. Ed decides to stay in Stuckeyville, buys the bowling alley, and practices law out of an office in said bowling alley.  Ed does all the over the top stuff women wish men would do to try to win the affections of his high school crush, Carol.  Dresses up in a suit of armor, throws waffles at her bedroom window (first clip towards the end), you get the idea.  Then there are the $10 bets with his best friend – they are hilarious (second clip) 

And my original fictional crush…..Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables.  What’s kind of embarrassing to admit is that I’m not sure if I read the book or saw the movie first.   Gilbert didn’t run away when Anne was prickly, he was smart and secure enough with himself to like that Anne was smart too.   Gilbert’s loyalty makes him so attractive.

This list goes on and on, but I think these are my top 5  (or 7 really).