Harlan Coben's novels are like jigsaw puzzles. Each chapter brings you some new pieces that eventually fit into an overall picture. As the pieces line up the mystery of the story is revealed. This is certainly the way it happens in Coben's new novel, Missing You. By the time you reach the end of the story all of the pieces have fit together and you have the completed picture and a real sense of satisfaction.
The story starts with an introduction to NYPD Detective Kat Donovan. She is a "legacy" at the NYPD as her father was a legendary investigator. His death and the mystery surrounding it have always haunted Kat. That and her long ago failed engagement to the love of her life, a guy named Jeff, have left her haunted by the unexplained.
Jeff walked out of her life almost two decades ago without an explanation or reason. This has prevented her from finding another relationship, or even trying to find one. No one can measure up to Jeff. With this in mind her best friend finally signs her up for an online dating service. Kat protests at first but eventually decides to peruse what is out there and being offered. Imagine her surprise when one of the first photos she sees is of her long-lost love Jeff.
The information about Jeff says he is a widower with one child. This isn't out of the ordinary considering the amount of time that has passed since Kat was with him. It is unusual that when she reaches out to him by e-mail he acts vague and doesn't respond in any familiar way.
Later Kat is contacted by a teenager who wants her help in locating his mother. She too has responded to Jeff on this dating site and now he fears she has gone missing. As Kat delves deeper into the mother's actions a whole wave of information opens up to her, and not all of it is good or explainable.
In addition to creating a good jigsaw puzzle, Coben is also exemplary in his ability to draw in many threads of his plot. He has an off shoot here and an off shoot there and they do not seem to be related at all, but then he begins to gather them in and they all relate in some way.
There is a confidence to Coben's writing that carries the reader along on this literary journey. He knows his subject matter; he knows his characters; he knows his plot. He is supremely confident in all he puts down on paper and this confidence enhances the reader's pleasure.
Missing You is another winner in Coben's stack of winners. If you are smart, you will grab it up as quickly as possible and start letting the pieces fit.
Missing You is published by Dutton. It contains 400 pages and sells for $27.95.
Jackie K Cooper