Gone for Good by Harlan Coben

July 10, 2012

Plot summary (from the publisher): As a boy, Will Klein had a hero: his older brother, Ken. Then, on a warm suburban night in the Kleins’ affluent New Jersey neighborhood, a young woman—a girl Will had once loved—was found brutally murdered in her family’s basement. The prime suspect: Ken Klein. With the evidence against him overwhelming, Ken simply vanished. And when his shattered family never heard from Ken again, they were sure he was gone for good.

Now eleven years have passed. Will has found proof that Ken is alive. And this is just the first in a series of stunning revelations as Will is forced to confront startling truths about his brother—and himself. As a violent mystery unwinds around him, Will knows that he must press his search all the way to the end. Because the most powerful surprises are yet to come.

Warning: MAJOR spoilers below!

Liked:

  • I loved that Ken turned out to be guilty after all. In way too many of Coben’s books, the accused person is actually innocent, and all the action in the book goes to prove that point. Having Ken be guilty not only of Julie’s murder, but of two more (Laura Emmerson, the would-be drug snitch at college, and the 4th grade bully that John Asselta took the rap for) was a good twist.
  • Coben is good at writing page-turners, there’s no doubt about that. Even though I wasn’t in love with the story or any of the characters, I really wanted to find out what happened next!
  • Instead of the usual two or three seemingly separate storylines that ultimately converge at the end, Coben sticks to one main plot this time. The book definitely felt more cohesive this way.

Disliked:

  • Coben loves to tie everything together with coincidences, but the ones in this book were very, very thin. Katy and the Ghost working together from the beginning? Sheila/Nora hooking up with Ken in Europe and then not only tracking down Will in NYC, but starting a love affair with him??? Come on.
  • The characters’ names may change but Coben essentially populates his novels with the same damn people. An over-the-top bad guy who loves torturing and/or killing people, an average Joe protagonist who proves to be smarter than EVERYONE (cops, feds, bad guys) and wins in the end, a too-good-to-be-true girlfriend who sticks around through thick and thin. The loyal-as-a-dog sidekick… It’s tiresome.
  • What was the point of making Carly Will’s daughter at the end? I think it would have been much more reasonable (within the confines of the story) to make her the Ghost’s daughter. In fact, when the Ghost said that Ken had “something he wanted,” I thought for sure it was in reference to the girl. Wouldn’t that have made more sense in terms of why the Ghost kept after the guy for 12 years?
  • And why is it that the feds are always portrayed as bumbling fools? Instead of setting Ken up in some Witsec identity where he could live a quiet life working for a Houston fence company or something, they stick him in a place where McGuane tracks him down within days. Sure.

Rating:

After 10+ Harlan Coben novels, I know what to expect from this writer. A fairly entertaining story with familiar characters and unbelievable twists, turns, and coincidences that make me roll my eyes. Gone for Good fits right in with the bulk of Coben’s work, which is why I give this one 3 stars out of 5.

Leave a Reply