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Thursday, August 19, 2021

My First Coben Novel A Meh Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When a bullied 16-year-old girl goes missing, no one seems too concerned.  Except her classmate, Matthew Crimstein, whose grandmother is a criminal attorney with her own t.v. show.  When Hester Crimstein learns about Naomi Pine's disappearance from Matthew, she enlists the help of Wilde, a man who was once a feral child found in the woods by hikers.  Now Wilde lives off the grid, interacting with others only rarely.  His almost preternatural instincts, however, make him an excellent private investigator.  He takes the case mostly as a favor to Matthew, who is his godson.  

Wilde's snooping around leads him to Naomi's bully, which in turn leads him to the dark secrets of several wealthy, influential men.  If they get what they want, will it lead to Naomi's rescue?  Or is it too late for the missing teenager?  It's up to Wilde to solve the puzzling mystery.

I find stories about feral children fascinating, so when I read the plot summary of The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben, that aspect of the novel drew me right in.  Unfortunately, what proves to be the most interesting part of the story is only a teensy-tiny bit of the tale, which I found disappointing.  as Wilde's past is infinitely more intriguing than his present.  While he's a sympathetic character, he's not entirely likable.  Likable characters are, in fact, in very short supply in this novel.  The only one I would care to read more about is Rola.  Plot-wise, The Boy From the Woods is all kinds of melodramatic and far-fetched.  The story was gripping enough to propel me to finish the book, but it was nowhere near as suspenseful and thrilling as I thought it would be.  Thanks to loosey-goosey crafting, an implausible plot, characters I didn't care about, and lackluster prose, I didn't exactly love this book.  I'll be generous and say it was just an average read for me, nothing more.  I've heard lots of good things about Coben, but if this book is typical of his work, I won't be reading more by him.

(Readalikes:  Um, nothing is coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, disturbing subject matter, mild sexual content and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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