Publisher : Penguin Books
Year Published : 2008
Rating : 4 stars
Review of Hold Tight
Harlan Coben has a habit of creating tight thrillers out of seemingly ordinary family situations, revealing stunning secrets that go on to result in disturbingly shocking outcomes. His stand alone thrillers have all had the ability to draw the reader in before unleashing a series of surprises. Hold Tight is the latest thriller that follows a similar scenario, this time playing on the fears of parents of a teenage boy.
Hold Tight is a story that is broken down into multiple storylines. It’s the kind of book where nothing appears related, but you know in the back of your mind that they’re going to be tied together somehow down the line – else why would they be in the book?
In the first storyline Mike and Tia Baye are concerned about their 16-year-old son Adam who has become increasingly withdrawn and surly of late. He has suddenly quit the school hockey team, a sport that he had always loved, and was spending a lot of time shut in his room sitting on the Internet. It all seems to have started around the time Spencer Hill, a boy Adam went to school with, committed suicide. Afraid that Adam may be heading down the same teenage depression path, Mike and Tia make the unorthodox decision of spying on their son’s Internet activities. But they find that it’s one thing to know what their son is doing but figuring out what to do with the information is a completely different matter.
Completely separate to the Baye’s are a couple, a man and a woman who are out murdering women - two of them so far. But they’re not doing it for kicks or thrills, they’re torturing the women and extracting information of some sort before the man, named Nash, beats them to death with brutal precision. We have no idea what they’re after of who will be next.
Finally we follow County Prosecutor’s Chief Investigator Lauren Muse who is on hand when the body of the first murdered woman is discovered. Muse is a controversial appointee as Chief Investigator and is involved in a couple of delicious confrontations to let us get to know her really well, not to mention put us firmly on her side. It looks like she’s going to be a formidable investigator full of razor sharp insights.
Somehow these three scenarios are deeply interrelated, however the plot that plays out most distinctly is the one surrounding the Baye’s when Adam goes missing one night after he breaks the rules and goes to a party. Thanks to their spying setup, Mike is able to follow him as he goes in to New York City and a dangerous neighbourhood in The Bronx. But while staking his son out he is set upon by a bunch of youths who bash him badly enough to put him in hospital. The upshot is that Adam can’t be found and no-one will admit to Mike that his son was ever there.
What follows is an intense search for Adam Baye which centres around the nightclub he was last seen at. Crucial to this story, too, is the suicide of Spencer Hill – there are more secrets to reveal.
Just how these three seemingly storylines are brought together is a tribute to Coben as a storyteller. The complexities are delicately picked apart and we are left with a thriller that comes together with precision to a dramatic finale. As is now expected of Coben, nothing can be taken for granted and the sucker punches he hits the reader with over the closing pages are packed with power.
Beneath the desperate action sequences the confusion and desolation of teenagers battling some pretty heavy emotions is one of the highlights of the book. A teenage suicide hangs over the start of the book and continues to creep into the heart of the matter throughout.
Oh yeah, one final titbit for Harlan Coben, and Myron Bolitar fans in particular. Tia Baye is an attorney and works for none other than Hester Crimstein. Fans of the Myron Bolitar series will recognise Crimstein as the overly outspoken and incredibly competent lawyer who represents Bolitar whenever he gets into trouble with the law (at least once per book).
Harlan Coben takes everyday people with seemingly everyday lives and turns them upside down. Hold Tight is a classic example of this simple yet highly engaging formula. By taking a situation in which many parents may find themselves and turning it into a nightmare he brings a conceivable realness to the story.
For a complete list of books, visit the Harlan Coben page.