Run Away is the latest in a long line of phenomenal novels of psychological suspense from powerhouse author Harlan Coben. It’s the story of a father’s desperate search for his missing daughter. True, this is a somewhat familiar premise, but in Mr. Coben’s expert hands, it feels completely fresh and original.
Simon and Ingrid are one of those rare couples who literally seem to have it all. Their love for one another is as deep and as strong as it was on the day they married, they have three fantastic children, jobs they adore, and an apartment in a trendy part of New York City. When Simon sits back at the end of a busy day and takes stock of his life, he is unable to think of a single thing he would change. At least, that’s how it was until three years earlier.
Paige is the couple’s oldest daughter. She had a close relationship with both her parents as well as her younger brother and sister, she got good grades and wasn’t prone to getting into trouble, but then, things changed, and her parents can’t figure out how or why. Suddenly, Paige is stealing from them, staying out for days on end, blowing off school, and dating an abusive young man. Simon and Ingrid have tried everything they can think of to help their daughter, but none of it has made a bit of difference.
When our story opens, it’s been several months since Simon last laid eyes on Paige. He’s heard rumors that she’s part of a homeless community living near Central Park, and he’s taken to spending time in the park whenever he can in hopes of catching sight of her. His efforts eventually pay off, but it’s obvious Paige is no longer the bright, beautiful girl he remembers. He tries to convince her to come home with him, but Paige refuses. Things get heated, and Simon ends up assaulting Paige’s boyfriend and being taken into police custody.
Several days later, the charges against Simon are mysteriously dropped, and he’s convinced he’s in the clear. He’s determined to pick up the pieces of his life and make the best of things, even if that means not trying to contact Paige again. But then, the police show up at his office, explaining that Paige’s boyfriend has been murdered and Paige is nowhere to be found. Now, Simon and Ingrid must do everything in their power to locate Paige, even if that means putting their own lives in danger.
Mr. Coben is truly a master of characterisation, because his creations feel completely authentic, like the sort of people we all run across in our daily lives. He’s written a ton of books, but it never feels like he’s just recycling popular character types. Instead, each person is fully realized with distinct personality traits that set them apart from the crowd.
The second half of the novel contains a couple of great twists that really blew my mind. I actually gasped aloud a few times while reading, and that’s something I rarely do. I love the fact that this author can still catch me off guard, even after I’ve read almost all of his books.
I imagine you’re wondering why I didn’t give Run Away a higher grade. Unfortunately, there are two rather small inconsistencies in the plot that meant I couldn’t quite aware the book DIK status. Obviously, I can’t tell you what they are, but observant readers are sure to spot them with little difficulty. They didn’t ruin the story for me, but I couldn’t in good conscience write this review without at least mentioning their existence.
In spite of its few flaws, Run Away is a deftly plotted thriller that is sure to appeal to both long-time fans of Mr. Coben’s writing as well as those who are reading his work for the first time. It’s also a story I’m sure to be thinking about for a long time to come.