Promise Me by Harlan Coben

October 21, 2011

Plot summary (from the publisher): It has been six years since entertainment agent Myron Bolitar last played superhero. In six years he hasn’t thrown a punch. He hasn’t held, much less fired, a gun. He hasn’t called his friend Win, still the scariest man he knows, to back him up or get him out of trouble.

All that is about to change . . . because of a promise.

The school year is almost over. Anxious families await word of college acceptances. In these last pressure-cooker months of high school, some kids will make the all-too-common and all-too-dangerous mistake of drinking and driving. But Myron is determined to help keep his friends’ children safe, so he makes two neighborhood girls promise him: If they are ever in a bind but are afraid to call their parents, they must call him.

Several nights later, the call comes at 2:00 am, and true to his word, Myron picks up one of the girls in midtown Manhattan and drives her to a quiet cul-de-sac in New Jersey where she says her friend lives.

The next day, the girl’s parents discover that their daughter is missing. And that Myron was the last person to see her. Desperate to fulfill a well-intentioned promise turned nightmarishly wrong, Myron races to find her before she’s gone forever. But his past will not be buried so easily – for trouble has always stalked him, and his loved ones often suffer. Now Myron must decide once and for all who he is and what he will stand up for if he is to have any hope of saving a young girl’s life.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • As with most Myron Bolitar books, the pacing in this one was very good. There were hardly any lulls, and the action kept moving right along through the requisite (for Coben) twists and turns before coming to a conclusion.
  • I liked that Myron got his ass kicked by “the twins.” That doesn’t happen nearly enough in the series, despite Myron getting into all sorts of against the odds situations. Sure, Win came to the rescue (as usual), but not until one of the twins took a huge bite (!) out of Myron’s leg.

Disliked:

  • As soon as it was revealed that both Katie and Aimee went to the same school but didn’t know each other, I figured a teacher had to be involved somehow. You mean to say the cops never thought to pursue that angle? Give me a break!
  • I listened to the audiobook version of this novel, and this time around it was read by Coben himself. OMG, what a disaster!!!! He was terrible! Aside from Myron’s dialogue, which was read in Coben’s regular voice, ALL the other characters sounded pretty much the same. And he made Win go from sounding like the snooty, arrogant, rich boy that he was in Jonathan Maerosz’s interpretation to sounding like a little old lady. I’m telling you, it was awful!
  • Okay, so let me get this straight. Dr. Skylar kidnapped Aimee because her son (Aimee’s teacher) impregnated the girl and Dr. Skylar didn’t want Aimee to get an abortion??? What the…? Coben’s novels are usually twisty, but this was just too much.
  • God, it was annoying how Coben constantly said “ATM machine” throughout the book. ATM = automated teller machine, so ATM machine = automated teller machine machine. Ugh. And yes, I know people say it like that in real life (and I’m guilty of the same thing with saying “PIN number”), but hearing it 100 times in succession made me want to rip my ears off.
  • Why would Myron make himself available to 18-year-old girls in that way? Of course he wouldn’t do anything with them, but it’s just very inappropriate for a 40-something, single, male friend of the family to offer to be the designated driver for teen girls that he barely knows. What’s next, offering to let junior high school kids check out the home dlp projector in his basement? What a weirdo!
  • I didn’t like any of Myron’s relationship stuff, not Jessica coming back and certainly not the new woman (9/11 widow) with kids. None of it is interesting, and doesn’t really belong in an “action” novel.
  • Esperanza has a kid? And is married? Wait, when did all this happen? I know Myron went to her wedding and gave her away and all, but that whole thing felt so sudden and utterly contrived. Couldn’t she at least have ended up with a woman??? After making so much out of her bisexuality or whatever, that was the least Coben could have done. Oh, well.

Rating:

I generally like the Myron Bolitar series, but Promise Me was a bit too disjointed for my tastes. It seemed like the story kept jumping all over the place without giving readers any time to get their bearings. As a result, little made sense as the story was unfolding, and the ending felt like it was pulled out of thin air. I give this one 2 stars out of 5.

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