Run Away
A novel by Harlan Coben
Book review by Jules Brenner
Grand Central Publishing, released 3/19/19, 385 pp., $29.00
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After a successful string of thriller-puzzlers, this disappearance story, while heartbreaking on the emotional scale, calls for more acceptance of over-stretched realism than many readers will go along with. Coben's big audience after his recent runs on best seller lists, however, could overcome flaws and keep bookstore traffic alive if not exactly Number One.

Wall Street financial advisor Simon and pediatrician wife Ingrid Greene have taken great pride in their cozy New York family life with their two kids and have been particularly proud of daughter Paige's intellectual promise. Until, that is, she disappeared some six months ago from college and home. With no professional help but a lot of determination, Simon has taken to foot searches around the city and finally, one day, spots her panhandling with her guitar in Central Park, little more, it would seem, than a desperate druggie.

Except that she's deeply loved, by parents who will do anything for her.

Simon appeals to her to come home and she runs. He catches up to her and holds her by the arm until she recognizes him. "Dad," she utters. But the promise of that moment is split by another voice, acting on her like a magician pulling his client out of a trance. She pulls away from Simon, running when the man steps in front of Simon declaring Paige an adult who has every right to go wherever she wants. Simon recognizes Aaron Coval, Paige's apparent junkie boyfriend, lover, dealer, whatever.

Simon throws a punch into Aaron's face, dropping him. Tourists scream. Simon starts to run after Paige when Aaron grabs his leg. A crowd forms and Aaron has lost an opportunity while also attracting the interests of the police.

This leads, three months later, to a visit by Bronx Homicide Detective Isaac Fagbenle asking Simon what he knows about Aaron's murder, putting a greater chill on Simon and Ingrid who now decide that Paige must be found now if she's ever to be rescued from the life she's been in.

With a pistol in Simon's pocket, they track down anyone who may know of Paige's whereabouts. A tip leads them into the bowels of the Bronx where Aaron and Paige lived together. The audacity of the move proves terrifying when it causes a gunfight and Ingrid takes a bullet that puts her into a coma.

And we still don't know if Paige is even alive when Simon's search leads to a Chicago connection and an ancient adoption scheme. A pair of assassins have been hired to silence peoople who are risks to exposure; Chicago PI Elena Ramirez has been hired to find a missing adopted son; and the possible involvement of independently wealthy Sebastian Thorpe III and the members of his cult.

Some readers might argue (as I do in paragraph one) that Coben should have quit before this subplot subjection to increased complexity. Coben's writing is superb but even the Mollie and Clyde element, while somewhat captivating, was, for me, one road (not "read") too many. My guess? The publishers wanted more pages.

If you don't yet own Run Away and would like to purchase it (usually at a sizable discount), click here.