Don’t Let Go, by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is one of those writers whose books I set aside for a reward. If I’ve pored through a box of dull books or finish up a long nonfiction book I pick up Coben to remind myself why I like reading. The books, even the ones written for a YA audience, always feature fun characters, interesting plots, funny dialogue, and enough musical references to keep me busy on YouTube during reading breaks. (I’ve even been introduced to a few new artists who now haunt my playlists.)

The plot of this book centers on New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas, working on the police force of his home town. A dozen years earlier his twin and the twin’s girlfriend were found dead, apparently killed by a train while they were walking on the tracks after a school dance. Only a few days later his own girlfriend Maura disappeared. Already showing a cop’s instincts at 18, Nap went to Maura’s home and put some personal items in plastic bags. After joining the force he entered her fingerprints in the computer system.

Now a local patrolman has been killed after pulling over a vehicle. Found in that vehicle: The fingerprints of still-missing Maura. This sets him on a hunt for Maura and information about what actually happened to his brother. Signs are pointing to a mysterious government facility that had been active when Nap and the others were still in school, a facility that once held one of dozens of suburban missile sites active during the Cold War.

The book contains a deep mystery centered around something Coben says actually existed in his own New Jersey home town, a missile silo placed in a suburban location as a nuclear deterrent. In the book it is at the heart of the mystery, but there’s also a more sinister story Nap eventually uncovers.

Like all the Coben books I’ve read to date, this book is a finely-paced and fun read, with a boggling mystery solved by an entertaining and interesting lead character. Twists drag him back to his teens and a death that impacted his entire life, and additional twists bring some long-overdue romance into his life. It’s easy-to-read and involving entertainment that makes Coben a dessert reward for my broccoli reads.