Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: Caught by Harlan Coben


Caught, by Harlan Coben starts out with a really great premise.  In a To Catch A Predator-style television show, a man is accused of being a pedophile.  He claims to have been set up, and is not convicted, but his reputation is ruined.  He comes to the reporter who hosted the tv show claiming to have new information to provide his innocence, but before he can speak to her, he is shot. 

Writing
My first experience with Coben was one of his Myron Bolitar books - it was on audio and I hated it.  The writing was just terrible, the story wasn't that interesting, and the narrator was awful.  So of course I went out and got another Harlan Coben on audio and expected it to impress me.  Nope.  The writing was still bad.  The "mystery" was so boring, there were so many plot holes, and the dialogue was abysmal.  When the author's name is a larger font than the book title, I suppose I ought to assume that it's not a good sign for the quality of the writing.

Entertainment Value
The story was about way too many things for it to keep my attention.  We had the whole pedophilia/child porn thing, underage drinking paid for by parents, drunk driving, rappers, reporters, a Judge Judy-esque character, and middle age men who have lost their jobs.  We have a college accident that scarred a woman for life and the person she accused out for revenge.  It's just way too much going on.  If you've read the blurb, let me just assure you that it is nothing like what happens in the book.  I assumed from the blurb that the book was going to take a unique look at shows like To Catch A Predator - but that plays almost no role in the book at all.  Instead we get this bizarre backstory about college and a side story about parents who buy their kids alcohol. 

Narration
Maybe it's the narration that is killing these books for me.  After all, I've had people I normally trust tell me they like Coben.  But I do not recommend that you try him on audio.  The narrator's voice is absolutely grating.  And her voices make the horrible dialogue even more stilted and awkward. 

This one gets a big thumbs down from me on all levels. 

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