Just One Look, by Harlan Coben

A happily married couple live a comfortable life, until one day, when the wife collects a set of pictures from a photo-processing shop, and finds in the packed a photograph that doesn't belong there. The people in it look somehow familiar though, so she shows it to her husband when he gets home. While she is distracted putting the children to bed, she hears him leave the house. He's gone, taking the picture with him, and the next morning, he's not come back.

Very much in the same vein as Tell Noone, in fact it is almost as if the same meta-plot lies beneath both books: as in that book, some event from the past, which was hushed up at the time, comes back to haunt our protagonist; the police aren't interested, so she has to do her own investigation, enlisting the help of her close friend as well as someone from the criminal underworld who happens to be on her side. Meanwhile, some people are obviously trying to stop her finding anything out. And there's a final twist at the end.

But in spite of that, it was another compelling read - in fact I finished it in a day. I broke off reading The Dispossessed to read this one, and so was struck by the way that this one was relatively un-putdownable, while the other didn't grip. Trouble is, you read it so quickly that it's hard to analyze what it is about the writing style that keeps you hooked. I think it's partly the tease of the problem, but must also be to do with the prose. The Dispossessed, on the other hand, even though there was a mystery there, seemed a bit drab by comparison.

Maybe not quite as gripping as Tell Noone, although if I'd read the books in the other order I might feel differently. This one had a better ending though.

Completed : 12-Mar-2006

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