Missing You

missingyouWritten by Harlan Coben — Harlan Coben has been a leading crime author since the mid-90s. His Myron Bolitar series captivated fans who love private detective stories while his standalone thrillers – like the superb Tell No One – have tended to look at everyday people in extra-ordinary situations. Usually these situations involve someone searching for a long-lost love, or having somebody they thought was gone for good walk right back into their lives. He’s thrived on stories revolving around what people don’t know about their nearest and dearest. Here on Crime Fiction Lover we’ve reviewed Stay Close and Six Years.

In Missing You, some of these themes crop up yet again. NYPD Detective Kat Donovan is a driven woman. Her cop father was killed 18 years ago, and although a man confessed to the shooting, somehow his story has never really rung true to Kat. So when she hears that the so-called killer Monte Leburne is dying, she blags her way to his bedside. Maybe, this time, he will tell her the truth… Sadly, Kat is destined to be disappointed. Monte isn’t about to make a deathbed confession to her, but when a friendly nurse plies him with drugs, he lets slip a few choice clues. Can Kat sort out what actually happened on the night her father was gunned down?

Outside of work, Kat leads a fairly solitary existence – something her friend Stacy is determined to change. To that end she enrols Kat on an internet dating site. But on Kat’s first visit, she is shocked to see a face that meant so much to her many years ago. Former fiancé Jeff, now a widower with a child, is looking for love and companionship on the site too. Kat debates long and hard about getting in touch, but when she composes a message and hits the send button, she is vaguely disappointed by his reply. Her message included a link to Missing You, the song that meant so much to them 18 years ago. Why doesn’t Jeff remember it?

Meanwhile, at an isolated farm in Amish country, something nasty is afoot. Innocent, lonely people are being duped by a masterful conman intent on bleeding them dry of money. Titus draws them in with promises of romance, then kidnaps his victims until they are no longer of use to him, then disposing of their bodies. So far, no-one has taken notice of his missing victims – until the distraught son of a well-to-do woman contacts Kat. She told him she was going away for a few days with her new boyfriend, now she has vanished. And strangely, her beau looks exactly like Kat’s ex, Jeff.

Early on in the book the various plotlines appear separate and unconnected, and that serves to slow down the pace – so much so that I found myself losing interest. Eventually the stories begin to knit together and the pace quickens somewhat, but Kat and her complicated history never feel completely engaging. Coben throws any number of plot devices into the mix and as skeletons begin to fall from an ever-increasing number of closets. I struggled to keep up, and not in a good way. I’ve long been a fan of Harlan Coben, but the seeking-lost-love formula is wearing a little thin. In short, a disappointing read.

Dutton Books
Print/Kindle
£6.64

CFL Rating: 2 Stars

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