Tuesday, December 11, 2012

{read: mystery from the archives} Just One Look by Harlan Coben

If you're a Harlan Coben fan, you may have read this one years ago. If you're not, this is a good intro to a popular mystery author. I discovered it thanks to my mystery book club and found it to be tightly paced, if a little confusing. 

I admit I had trouble keeping track of all the characters and eventually went with a just-keep-reading-and-it-will-all-become-clear eventually approach. (I don't believe in keeping lists of characters if I'm reading for fun.) This strategy left me a little baffled at the end, but mostly I got it.

The story starts with a U.S. attorney meeting with a mafia hit man, who confesses to killing his sister years ago. The attorney thought his sister had died in an accidental dorm fire. Fast forward three months, and Grace Lawson's world begins to unravel when she picks up her roll of pictures (yes, some people still use real film and get pictures developed) and finds an old picture with several people, one of whom appears to be her husband. Then her husband disappears without a word after she shows him the picture. No one can be trusted, everyone who wants to help her has their own agendas, and Grace is thrown into a world she doesn't understand.

Some of the secondary characters, like the next-door neighbor and the paid assassin, are just as engrossing as the main characters (and perhaps more so). While female characters often end up being the victims, the women in this book take charge and don't wait around for things to happen. They assess the situation, make a plan, and get moving. Maybe that's why I liked it.

Just One Look by Harlan Coben (Signet, 2005)
My rating: 3.5 stars

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