Todd's Reviews > Play Dead

Play Dead by Harlan Coben
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Apr 18, 2011

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bookshelves: crime-thriller-fiction

“Okay if this is the first book of mine you’re going to try, stop now,” warns the author. “Return it. Grab another. It’s okay. I’ll wait.” Harlan Coben, master thriller writer and twister of plots goes on to explain that he has not read Play Dead in over 20 years. He wrote this novel very early on in his career. Somewhere in his early to mid twenties while still a “naïve lad working in the travel industry.”

Coben is not simply recycling an earlier work and passing it off as a new book (he hates it when authors do that). He is simply presenting us an earlier work. Play Dead is certainly not the author’s finest work. Indeed, some of the plot twists abuse the limits of credibility making it a little difficult to suspend disbelief. As the reader pummels toward the dénouement the reveal and resolution read like a plot line for a daytime drama. But, given the inexperience of the young novelist who wrote this book it is easy to forgive and overlook.

Damn it all! Play Dead is still a smashing good read! Coben’s trademark plot pacing keeps you rapidly turning pages trying to guess whodunit and whodunwhat as you breathlessly keep pace with the unfolding action. Even when you do guess the identity of the killer you will dismiss it because of the wonderful plot twists. Play Dead is hard to put down. If this is your first outing with Harlan Coben, definitely put it down and come back to it later. But, if you are an old friend then Play Dead is most definitely an entertaining must read.

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