Any Harlan Coben fans?

alisandeApril 12, 2013

I'm on my second Harlan Coben (audio) book, and I like him--but with reservations.

The first was in the Myron Bolitar series, probably in the middle of it. Generally entertaining, and it held my interest. But I had questions.....like how does Win get away with opening fire in the middle of the city? For that matter, how do Myron and Win get away with various forms of violence? And will Myron ever learn to shut up? All those wisecracks......some are funny, but sometimes he'd be better off remaining silent.

The one in my car now is Just One Look. It's not in the Myron Bolitar series. I would have given it high marks until this morning. This morning I was listening to a scene involving a character who is so bored and alienated in her marriage that she enjoys enjoy modeling scanty lingerie in her window for the creepy misfit next door. (That alone put me off somewhat.) A lot of earlier text (way too much) is devoted to how distanced she and her husband have become to one another.

So in today's scene she is about to do something extremely dangerous at night involving a serial killer. It's a suspenseful premise, and the writing should reflect this. She needs to move quickly in order to accomplish what she wants to do. She runs downstairs, and on her way out she encounters her husband in the kitchen. Bam! End of suspense. The book launches into a lengthy description of how his eyes penetrate her soul, or some such thing, just like they did when they first met. On and on and on, while the serial killer does who knows what......I admit I'm a critical reader, but it was such bad writing. I would be ashamed to bring something like that to my writing group.

Coben also has his characters thinking endlessly in situations where there is not nearly enough time to mull over all the thoughts he attributes to them. I get impatient with this.

Do you read Harlan Coben? What are your thoughts?

This post was edited by alisande on Fri, Apr 12, 13 at 11:34

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sushipup1

You have a very good analysis. I've read them all, and Coben got tired of the Myron stories and has effectively ended the series a couple of times, most effectively the last time. Yes, they are flip characters and very improbable, but it's fun reading if you suspend belief. Which is necessary. ;-) The other non-series books are a bit better, and yes, the characters do waste a lot of time thinking. Time management seems to be a challenge for Coben, his characters find ways to do more in 24 hours, cover more distance, find parking places and never stop for eating, peeing, a traffic jam or just to catch their breath. (Jeffrey Deaver is another who fails miserably at time management.)

What I do like about Coben's books is the feelings that he has for kids, especially kids at risk. He does that well. He's started a series for young adults featuring Myron's nephew, and I'll look for those.

Did you know that Coben was Chris Christie's college roommate?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 12:29PM
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alisande

I didn't know about Chris Christie. They've both certainly been successful.

What you said about time management: YES! I thought about that many times in the Bolitar book. What? It's still daylight? . . . They must have low blood sugar by now . . . Don't these people ever pee?? LOL

It's been awhile since I read Jeffrey Deaver, but I'm sure you're right. One thing I remember reading about him is that he likes to write in the dark. He admitted he sometimes puts his fingers on the wrong keys and doesn't realize it until he has typed quite a bit of text.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:24PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

He is one of my absolute fave authors. I was not really into the basketball related ones with Myron. But he has some stellar books out. I am always happy to know he has a new book out.
If you have not read Gone for good and tell no one then get those next! Those were my first 2 and I was hooked forever.
I also love Jeffery Deaver.

I have read some of the Mickey Bolitar ones and they are good but focused for a younger crowd.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:33PM
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nanny98

He is/has been a favorite of mine for quite some time. One of the first books of his that I rad was about driving a car down a twisty, curvy steep road.....for pages, I was GLUED to that book,, hanging on for dear life. That experience was a first and riviting several minutes I have ever read and I thought it was brilliant writing. Not sure if I have ever been soooo breathless reading a book. Anyway, he is a favorite, even tho he doesnt always capture his audience in the same way, I believe he is working toward that end.

I just purchased a newly released book that I read some time ago....darn, THAT annoys me when I do that!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 2:18PM
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lily316

I discovered Coben years ago and liked his earlier books better than the latest ones. However my husband , on my recommendation, started reading him and loves all his books, old ones and new. .

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 3:20PM
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sushipup1

I read two of the Jeffrey Deaver New York-based books, but I don't like them. I have read all the newer Katherine Dance books, and will continue to read them because they take place in my home. One scene in one book was just down the road from us at a favorite restaurant that a friend owns, and even the book that was mainly in Fresno was home territory because we have family there and have visited a lot over the years.

Just starting on Robert Crais books. So far, so good. Best series are still Michael Connelly and John Lescroart, by far.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 3:35PM
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Georgysmom

I enjoy his books. Never questioned the improbability of his stories. Just read for the escapism and sheer enjoyment of it. Whenever I give a book to DH to read and he says it's preposterous when he's done, I just shake my head and say it's suppose to be like Cinderella. Just a story. LOL

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 3:48PM
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woodie2

Big Harlan Coben fan. First fan letter I ever wrote on the internet - I was reading my first book of his and liked it so much and so I wrote to his website and said how I can't wait to finish reading to see how it ends. He happened to be on-line at that moment and wrote me back immediately and thanked me, then said I'd better get off of the internet and back to reading to see how it ends :)

I don't expect fiction to be necessarily accurate or probable LOL - they're fiction, after all! I like to be on the edge of my seat and if I'm scared to turn the light off, all the better.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 6:00PM
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alisande

I don't mind suspending disbelief. It's not the improbabilities that bother me; it's his digressions. They drive me nuts! One example I encountered yesterday: Grace (the protagonist) and a man from the Attorney General's office are looking for a store clerk who may have information they desperately need. They track him down to a Taco Bell, and spot him sitting in a booth. He's listening to music on his headphones. They rush up to him, but instead of getting into the confrontation the author launches into an internal dialogue Grace has with herself about listening to music that's too loud. When I heard, "Grace liked music....." I groaned. Here we go again.

I don't know whether he feels compelled to share his views on anything and everything, or if he's simply trying to fill up pages.

As for the time management, I'm surprised his editor hasn't addressed this. It's the kind of thing copy editors are supposed to pick up. Maybe they figure his books are selling so well they don't want to mess up the bottom line. :-)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 9:24AM
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alisande

Okay, I decided to give Coben one more chance and ordered Raven's two suggested books, Tell No One and Gone For Good. I figure since these are printed books, not audio books, I can just skip over his digressions. Thanks, Raven! (I think.) LOL

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:44AM
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