Monday, June 05, 2006

Mini-Review: “The Innocent” by Harlan Coben

I am a bit of a snob when it comes to choosing what books I will read. I don’t pay much attention to what is on the “Best Seller” lists. I am usually not interested in reading what everyone is reading on the beach this summer!

Generally, I choose what to read by following two main criteria. First, I will read a book by an author whose work I have already read, enjoyed and who I respect. Second, I will read a book recommended to me by someone whose tastes in literature I respect. As a result, I don't often read what is currently popular. So, I was a little taken aback last week when on several occasions – while riding on the “T” in Boston and while dining in restaurants – people noticed the book I was reading and stopped to say: “He is one of my favorite authors; that is a great book.” The book I was reading was “The Innocent,” and the author is Harlan Coben, “modern master of the hook-and-twist,” according to author Dan Brown.

I do not want to give away any of the delicious plot twists of this page-turner, so I will limit my comments to a few hors-d’oeuvres. Here is the scenario:

A nun turns up dead in a convent in Newark, New Jersey, and suspicions are aroused when it turns out that she had breast implants! Just who was Sister Mary Rose? A man who has served time in prison for involuntary manslaughter finds himself accused of a crime he did not commit. His wife appears to be having an affair and her “lover” seems to be flaunting it in front of the husband. An orphaned girl tries to find her birth mother, a Las Vegas stripper who was murdered years ago – or was she? Let the games begin!

From these “base” and basic ingredients, Coben concocts a zesty ragout that guarantees surprises in every bite.

Ultimately, believe it or not, this suspense novel evolves into a very moving story about unconditional love, redemption and second chances.

I have read the book twice. What does that tell you?



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