Tell No One, by Harlan Coben

David Beck, a doctor, lost his wife eight years ago when they were both attacked and she was abducted by a serial killer. He still hasn't got over it, and so when he receives an email containing information that only his wife would have known, directing him to a URL where a webcam shows a street scene which appears to show his wife still alive, he becomes obsessed with finding out what's going on. As luck would have it, the police stumble across new evidence which leads them to re-open the eight-year-old case, with Beck as the chief suspect. But Beck can't appeal to the police for help; the email is quite clear: it says "Tell No One".

The setup here reminded me of The Straw Men, but I think the story was more gripping, and less implausible. Whereas in that book you had a really good setup which was a bit let down by the explanation, in here the story of what happened was (up until the very last bit) pretty coherent.

Some of the story was written in the first-person by Beck, but the rest was in the third-person, and so the reader has to some extent got an advantage in that we know a bit more about what's going on than he does. However, the story isn't handed to you on a plate, and so although you generally work things out a bit before Beck does, the realisations come with a sort of "aha! I've worked out what must have happened", and you're drawn to read more, to see if Beck comes to the same conclusion you did. Only at the very end of the book is there a section where someone explains the last few details, does the book fall short.

The idea of someone that you thought was gone might possibly come back is a beguiling one, and that does make the book quite compulsive. And there is a good deal of tension to be milked from the situation, given that Beck is at once trying to evade the police and follow his emailed instructions: on a couple of occasions when it seemed like he wasn't going to make it I felt quite frustrated.

The only thing that let the book down was the final twist at the end, which I thought was unnecessary - the book would have been better if the last couple of paragraphs had been omitted. But it was a really good read, and I was very sorry to come to the end.

Completed : 17-Dec-2005 (audiobook)

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