First of all, let me state at the outset the important fact that Missing You by Harlan Coben is an exceedingly good novel. One of his best, I’d say, and that’s no mean praise.
I have to say that because I’m going to do some ideological quibbling at the end.
Anyway, the main character of Missing You is Kat Donovan, a New York City police detective who very quickly finds herself tugged in several directions by a number of worries and crises.
First of all, a friend has signed her up for an online dating service. Looking through possible matches, she discovers a photograph of the fiancé who abandoned her eighteen years before. She’s never gotten over him. Everything was going fine, they were planning a life together, and then one day he was gone without a word. Now here he is, describing himself as a widower with one child. And when she sends him a message, he doesn’t seem to remember her.
Then she’s approached by a young man whose mother has disappeared. It’s only been a couple days, but the texts she’s sent him don’t sound like her. When Kat learns she’s supposed to have gone to meet a man she contacted through that same dating service, she gets suspicious.
Also the man who was convicted of murdering Kat’s policeman father is dying of cancer, and Kat suspects he actually took the fall for someone else. Can she get the real killer’s name out of him before he’s gone forever?
Missing You is intricately and tightly plotted, elegantly written, and is guaranteed to draw you in. The evil depicted in this book is appalling on the level of horror.
I have only one problem with it.
There are a couple plot threads that have to do with homosexuality. Now I have every reason to believe that author Harlan Coben is a really, really good guy. I don’t think he could write the way he does if he was a jerk. But, judging from this book, he has no tolerance for any questioning of homosexuality. In this book, anyone who objects to homosexuality is a bigot, period. Case closed, judgment passed.
In a way, it seems to me, there’s a dissonance between the story and the plot. The message of the story is about the importance of always pursuing love, at any cost, at any risk. But the plot involves people who do pursue love, only to find themselves horrifically betrayed and exploited. That’s probably not what Coben had in mind, but that’s what I see.
Still, it’s a first class novel.