The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.
Run Away by Harlan Coben proves once again he is a master storyteller. The novel explores how seemingly good parents could have a child go astray and must face the nightmare that they may not be able to save their child. The characters in this story must face the nagging question, how many things could have been done differently that might have helped sway the child toward a better path?
Coben stated, “I had a bunch of different thoughts in my head: drug abuse, genealogy websites, and cults. It all came together as I was sitting in Strawberry Fields in Central Park. This is the exact same place as my protagonist Simon was sitting when he spotted his daughter. I actually thought then of the very first sentence in the book. There was a panhandler singing and manhandling Beatle tunes. I thought, what if that strung out singer was my lead character’s daughter who he has not seen for awhile. Here was his chance to rescue her. This is how this novel starts.”
Parents, Wall Street financial advisor, Simon Greene, and his pediatrician wife, Ingrid, thought they had everything, while raising their three children. But hardship hits them when their college aged daughter, Paige, turns to drugs and has run away. Following a tip, Simon sees her playing guitar in Central Park as a panhandler. As he tries to talk to her, her enabler, dealer and boyfriend interferes. Desperate to catch her as she runs away Simon punches the boyfriend, Aaron, all caught on cell phone videos. Fast-forward three months where Simon and Ingrid find out that Aaron was brutally murdered. Their search for Paige becomes frantic after finding out she is still strung out and has been abused. They are now following a trail fraught with danger, surprises and secrets.
Both parents are devoted to their family. They are vulnerable and full of guilt, unable to help their oldest daughter. The feeling of failure allows the reader to sympathize with the parents making them both relatable and realistic.
“I wanted to write about parents where there is always that tremendous guilt. Any child who is a junkie has to be careful for the rest of their lives even if they are rescued. Questions I love to raise in all my books is nature versus nurture. Simon is constantly asking himself what did I do wrong and what could I have done differently? Was he too easy or too hard on Paige? She is in trouble and her father, Simon, is trying to figure out how to rescue her from the drugs. I think it is a story about a family fractured by an incident that has come back to haunt them. It is Simon, Ingrid, and Paige’s story. They must put their lives back together. I think crime fiction is rarely about the crime. It is really about the effects the crime has on the relationships, family, and the social construct.”
The story is exciting and riveting. Readers will be unable to put the book down. Typical of Coben are the thrills and ending bombshell that keeps people guessing.