The Good Father
In his new standalone book, Run Away—already on top of the bestseller lists—Harlan Coben goes straight for the heart. His protagonist, Simon Greene is the fiercely devoted father, who cannot give up on his missing daughter. The smart and pretty Paige, was inexplicably drawn into the world of drugs, while she was in college. When she disappears on day, Simon, a wealthy Manhattan finance manager, just refuses to give up the search for her, even when his doctor wife, Ingrid, and two other kids shrug her off.
On a tip by a well-meaning neighbour, Simon tracks down Paige to a park, where he is shocked to find a dirty, emaciated girl playing the guitar and busking for coins. He tries to talk to her, and when interrupted by her dealer boyfriend Aaron Corval, Simon hits him. Misunderstanding the situation, onlookers post videos of the ‘attack’ accusing the wealthy man of beating up a homeless person. The video goes viral and Simon’s life into a downward spiral. Just when he is recovering somewhat, a Detective Isaac Fagbenle (described as jaw-droppingly handsome) turns up to investigate the murder of Aaron.
Simon and Ingrid go to the apartment Aaron shared with Paige—a squalid dump—hoping to find their daughter; there is an altercation with a drug dealer, that ends in Ingrid being shot and going into a coma. Now Simon is even keener to find out what is going on, and has as an unlikely ally, Paige’s scruffy neighbour and landlord, Cornelious.
The story of the Greene family troubles is interspersed with Chicago private detective Elena Ramirez, hired to hunt for missing adopted son of the rich Sebastian Thorpe III, and a nasty pair, Ash and Dee Dee, going about murdering seemingly random targets. Going by Coben’s past thrillers, the three threads have to come together, though the connection and the reason for the turmoil is rather far-fetched and much too schematic.
However, Coben’s brisk writing never lets the reader’s interest flag; he makes Simon Greene so earnest and caring that you can’t but root for him. He also has unusual descriptions and backstories of some characters, just in case the book is turned into a film; plus there is a multi-racial cast so that the inclusivity clause is ticked. Meanwhile, the wait for the next in the Myron Bolitar series is on.