Hold Tight, by Harlan Coben

Hold Tight is a mystery. It’s also a thriller and a family drama. It’s not at all like the kind of mystery/thriller I usually read, but it grabbed me almost painfully.

I read and reviewed one Coben novel a while back, and felt ambivalent about it. I decided to try another because I’d read an interesting thing about Coben. He’s made it a point to write his most recent books without using major obscenities. No “f” words. No “sh” words. I can’t find anything that says he has any particular religious devotion; he just seems to be concerned about raising the level of discourse. Which earned my respect, and prompted me to give him another try.

Hold Tight
is about families in a suburban community—how they love each other and irritate each other, and (most importantly) mistrust each other and keep secrets.

The story involves several different families, but it centers on Mike and Tia Baye. They’ve grown alarmed about their son Adam. Adam is going through a classic adolescent rebellion stage; dressing in black, shutting them out, staying out late. This is aggravated by the fact that one of his best friends recently committed suicide. Shamefully, reluctantly, they install spy software on Adam’s computer.

What they learn is disturbing enough, but text messages and e-mails show up that make them suspicious that Adam had more to do with the suicide than anybody guessed.

When Adam disappears one night, they use the GPS on his cell phone to trace him to a shady, underage night club in New York City. Following him there, Mike is attacked and severely beaten.

Meanwhile, the Bayes’ neighbors are trying to find a liver transplant for their little boy. Their daughter’s best friend has been traumatized by teasing in school. And two ordinary housewives are kidnapped and tortured to death.

Tension mounts as Coben gradually reveals that all these stories (and others I haven’t mentioned) are connected. Wondering how that could be—and feeling fearful about how it could all work out—kept me fascinated all through the book.

The ending might have been a little too neatly wrapped up, but Coben lays proper foundations for everything he does. Simply as an example of superior plotting, this book is well worth buying.

Only mild language cautions apply (as mentioned above), and the worst violence happens off camera.


9 thoughts on “Hold Tight, by Harlan Coben”

  1. I’ve spent the weekend cutting baseboard. Did I mention I studied English in college and all I normally do with my hands is peck at a keyboard? My mind is at the county courthouse trying to divorce me.

  2. Baseboard? Hah! I scoff at your baseboard!

    I went temporarily insane and installed crown molding.

    Lars, I’m waiting for you to review Klavan’s The Last Thing I Remember. Is that on your list?

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