17 year-old Haley McWaid is a good girl, the pride of her suburban New Jersey family, captain of the lacrosse team, headed off to college next year with all the hopes and dreams her doting parents can pin on her. Which is why, when her mother wakes one morning to find that Haley never came home the night before, and three months quickly pass without word from the girl, the community assumes the worst.
Wendy Tynes is a reporter on a mission, to identify and bring down sexual predators via elaborate—and nationally televised—sting operations. Working with local police on her news program Caught in the Act, Wendy and her team have publicly shamed dozens of men by the time she encounters her latest target. Dan Mercer is a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens, but his story soon becomes more complicated than Wendy could have imagined.
In a novel that challenges as much as it thrills, filled with the astonishing tension and unseen suburban machinations that have become Coben’s trademark, Caught tells the story of a missing girl, the community stunned by her loss, the predator who may have taken her, and the reporter who suddenly realizes she can’t trust her own instincts about this case—or the motives of the people around her.
I read this one following SWAN SONG. I’ve read everything of Coben’s except his Myron Bolitar series, but I’m a total fan of his standalone thrillers. What I love about Coben is that he never fails to deliver an ending twist. My favorite of his books is JUST ONE LOOK, because I never saw the twist coming (and I’m hoping I’m thinking of the right one; I’m terrible at remember plots). CAUGHT was typical Coben – ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances, many many cultural references to ground the reader in the here and now, and a plot, if not ripped from the headlines, that is totally contemporary.
I have to say I knew the twist to this one early, just not how it was going to play out. And since I really HATE the Dateline To Catch a Predator shows, I went into this story with a bit of trepidation, and that same Dateline hatred is probably why this wasn’t a favorite for me. I will say Coben pulls no punches and happy outcomes to criminal investigations are not guaranteed. His endings, though, are some of the best ever. I’ve always wanted to know if he plots backwards to get to that perfect resolution. Good stuff, and definitely recommended; not everyone shares my To Catch a Predator loathing. *g*