This was my first Harlan Coben book and I loved it!
The opening chapter begins with Will's mother, Sunny, on her death bed, whispering something incredible about her other son, Ken, who had vanished into thin air 11 years earlier ofter the brutal murder of their neighbour Julie (who had also been, in the past, Will's much loved girlfriend). Ken had been accused of the murder but Will always believed in his innocence, despite the evidence against him.
After the funeral, something totally unexpected turn up in Sunny's bedroom. This starts off a series of mind-boggling events. The tension starts building up immediately, escalating up to the very last page, with twists & turns at every corner.
I liked ALL the characters, no exceptions, well depicted and very credible indeed. Will's and his friend Square's jobs, working and volunteering for a charity house trying to save young teenagers from the dangers of street life, is well described and conveys the care, understanding and efforts these persons put into their line of work (and not just in fiction). Although pertinent to some of the events, the story is not, however, solely centered on their work at the charity. There so much more! A real page-turner, where narrative, events and dialogues are fast paced, plausible and convincing.
Just the kind of thriller book I like, where, in the end, every little details is taken care of, every question is answered to and you are left without any lingering doubts. Great!
on November 27, 2006
This is the second Harlan Coben novel I have read. The first was Tell No One, an equally suspenseful tale but I found it had a weak ending.
If you have read Tell No One, you will see the similiarities jump out at you from the first few chapters (girlfriend is missing/murdered, hero works for a charitable organization), but keep reading and the books are quite different.
Coben crafts a fast-moving plot with short chapters that keep me reading through the night, each time. If you enjoy turning the page to discover an unexpected and still believable plot twist, you should be reading Harlan Coben. He twists and turns the story right through to the end.
The end was another disappointment, hence the 4-star review, but was still an improvement over Tell No One. In order to wrap up so many twists, he uses a great deal of exposition and page-long dialogue that reminded me of a mystery whodunit detective explaining the killer's motive at the end.
This is still an amazing book, and I will continue to read more Coben novels.
on May 13, 2002
I wish Coben would go back to his Myron Bolitar series. Having read Tell No One and found it passable, I looked forward to Coben's next attempt at non-serial fiction with Gone for Good. However, after reading Gone for Good, I'm wondering if we have another series going here. In Tell No One, the hero's wife disappears...is she dead? Yes? No? Maybe? In Gone for Good, the hero's brother disappears....is he dead? Yes? No? Maybe? Then the dutiful girlfriend disappears...is SHE dead? Yes? No? Maybe? Are the good guys good or bad? Is the FBI good or evil? Yes? No? Maybe? Do you see a trend here? Who will the hero of the third book in the series lose? His beloved dog, Scooter? Will Scooter be dead? Yes, no or maybe? And will the FBI be good or bad, and will the bad guys be truly bad or really kind of nice? Seriously, there was such little difference between this book and Coben's most recent one, Tell No One, that I was amazed that he got away with publishing both. Gone for Good is almost like an outtake reel of the previous book. The two plots are entirely too similar, the characters virtually identical, and the "bad guys" almost laughable. When The Ghost, a deadly assasin, sidled up to the hero at the airport with crumpled autopsy results explaining maternity based on gross anatomy, I had to laugh. I guess he had to get that point in somehow. Oh Myron, where have you gone?
on September 17, 2008
I actually stayed up all night and finished this book...... it was simply amazing. The plot twist changed constantly and although I sometimes had to flip back to get a clear memory of a character I loved this book. As a skim reader I often pass over descriptions and characteristics in certain parts, however, I read every word of this book. I love to be surprised and stumped all at the same time in a good read and Gone For Good did not disappoint.
on July 3, 2004
This is the third Harlan Coben novel I've read and it is the best so far. Coben's plots have more twists and turns then a roller coaster. There is a surprise literally every few pages.
And that is the problem. Some of the surprises, many of them in fact, are simply jarring. They are clearly dramatic devices intended to move the story forward and the reader is sometimes forced to deliberately invoke their own sense of credulity.
Fortunately Coben's enough of a storyteller to involve the reader to the point of doing just that.
Coben is a powerful writer. His characters, while lacking depth and believability, are engrossing. The good folks are far and few between, the bad guys and dolls are plentiful and you simply can't be sure of where everyone stands.
The ending of "Gone for Good" is disappointing. Coben has to wrap up too many loose ends and it smacks of a 1930s movie with the detective assembling everyone in the drawing room and lecturing each suspect until revealing the perpetrator. Of course, it doesn't help that the "surprise" at the end is simply too surprising.
All that said, Coben is an immensely gifted writer who clearly has not reached his prime. He's entertaining, pulls you from page to page and is very clearly on the verge of breaking through. I'll be reading his five other novels to see if he's made it there yet.
on February 25, 2004
I have been avidly following the writing career of Harlan Coben since the early days of the Myron Bolitar paperback originals in the early to mid 90s. It is interesting to note the progression of this writer's developing talent. The early books were relatively lighthearted and, at times, downright hysterical romps around the northern New Jersey and Manhatten area. They were quite evidently reflections of the author's milieu where he grew up. They are filled with much Jewish angst and, overall, they create a very human portrait of Myron Bolitar. As the books progress, they become much darker with deeper meaning . In fact, from lighthearted humor tragedy rears its ugly head. Now, Harlan has left Myron to write stand-alone thrillers that pierce the human psyche. He also is being well compensated for these new books which I hereby entitle "The return of the dead?" in that both TELL NO ONE, as well as, our current consideration, GONE FOR GOOD, have as their central focus a character believed to be dead yet true doubts exist.
Will Klein is told by his mother, on her deathbed, that his brother, Ken, is still alive. Ken disappeared years before after he was accused of raping and murdering a neighbor's daughter. It was assumed that Ken had to be dead in that he would never have had the resources to remain alive. Will currently works for Covenant House in Manhatten with his close friend, Squares, a reformed white supremist. They help abused and runaway children. Unfortunately for Will, soon after his mother's death, his girlfriend, Sheila, the love of his life mysteriously leaves him. He pursues her and looks into his brother's disappearance. He begins to find answers to difficult questions. The answers might very well prove there is much he needs to know about Sheila and Ken. With the new knowledge comes danger.
As a long-time reader of Harlan Coben, it is gratifying to see some brief episodes of humor in the Bolitar vein. Squares very much reminds this reader of a much more human Win, Bolitar's partner and sidekick. Yet there are long passages that exude the true power and beauty of Harlan's writing. The type of writing that forces the eyes backward to fully experience those words again. I almost never quote but this is just one striking example:
"Morty played in Las Vegas, Las Vegas-the real Las Vegas, the city itself, no strip-strolling tourist trade in psuedo-suede and sneakers, no whistling and hollering or squeals of joy, no faux Statue of Liberty or Eiffel Tower, no Cirque de Soleil, no roller coasters, no 3-D movie rides or gladiator costumes or dancing water fountains or bogus volcanoes or kid appeal arcades. This was downtown Las Vegas. This was where grimy men with barely a mouth of teeth per table, the dust of their pickups still coming off them with each shoulder slump, lost their meager paychecks. The players here were bleary-eyed, exhausted, their faces lined, their hard times baked on by the sun."
Without the constraint of a series, Harlan can feel free enough to take his stories' characters wherever he wants them to go. They explore the very dark faces of society and do so in the confines of a truly gripping thriller where things are never as they seem until the very last page. Harlan Coben today-bestselling author, Edgar winner, writer of rare talent and one of the best storytellers on the planet.
on January 8, 2004
Having only discovered Harlan Coben a few weeks ago, I thought nothing could surpass his masterpiece Tell No One but to my surprise and delight this novel Gone For Good actually achieves that. Granted it doesn't grip your immediately from page one as Tell No One does but once you've read a few chapters, like with that brilliant book, you won't be able to put it down until the final page either.
In Gone for Good, Will Klein's mother has just died, telling him on her dieing breath that his brother Ken, who they thought was murdered along with Will's ex girlfriend, is still alive. While going through his mother's possessions with his current girlfriend Sheila, Will comes across a recent photograph of his brother with snow capped mountains in the background, he has aged but it is obviously Ken. The FBI want to know where Ken is, as do some other people who do not have a problem with murder and torture, one of them is known as the ghost and he's a particularly, evil character. When Sheila is murdered it is up to Will and his friend Squares to find his brother before more people die.
If you've never read a Coben book before you are in for a literary treat. If you've only read the Myron Bolitar series books then prepare to read a Coben book of an even higher level. Whilst the Bolitar books are good, you know most about Myron and that ultimately he will survive for another sequel but when Coben writes with fresh new characters the stories are full of mystery and the characters can go anywhere that Coben's imagination takes us. If you like the character Win, from the Bolitar series you'll love Square. He's a more realistic but equally interesting side kick/guardian of the main character. Gone for good is brilliant, it is full of twists and you won't put it down until the final chapter, so make sure there's nothing good on TV before starting, or just buy a blank tape as well.
on August 6, 2003
Will Klein has lived with shadows for over 11 years. It was that long ago when the girl he loved was viciously raped and murdered. What's worse is that his much idolized older brother Ken fled after being figured as the lead suspect. The Klein family has lived with the shame of not knowing whether or not their older son is innocent, and they have faced the accusing looks of neighbors and reporters for over a decade. Flash forward to the present and Will is working with at-risk kids. He's living with a wonderful, loving woman. His life seems to be fine until his lover disappears just shortly after his dying mother tells him that his brother is alive. From that point forward, Will's life is turned upside-down as he risks his life to find out the truth. He races against an old friend, The Ghost, who has turned into a sociopathic assasin, and he fights to find the woman he loves and to restore some sanity to his broken family.
Yes, Coben seems to be borrowing from his own plots. The assumed-dead and now-alive person is straight out of Tell No One. However, I like the characters, and I like Will's voice throughout the book. This is a fast, fun read that doesn't require a great deal of thinking--it's perfect for the beach or for a lazy weekend. It has mystery, suspense, action, and humor. It may never win a literary prize, but I liked it quite a bit, and I anxiously await my next Coben book.
(reviewer: mellion108 from Michigan)
on July 29, 2003
This mystery captures the attention of the reader from the first page and manages to hold it throughout the book despite that annoying habit of jumping from scene to scene with each chapter. The story was allowed to work itself out and it came back on itself in the end - almost like a Mobius strip.
The biggest flaw was a common one in mystery writing - all the assumptions of the characters were proved invalid by events to which the reader had no access. In a sense it reminds one of the Soaps where the problem is resolved by the sudden appearance of the unknown twin who has just woken from a 15 year state of amnesia. This is not quite as bad but [CAUTION: STORY NOTES FOLLOW] when the sister suddenly steps out from behind the bush to tell the world the long-hidden truth and John shows up to add his version of the truth about Carly (it DOES sound like a soap) the reader can rightly call "Foul".
Stories with last page resolutions are a dime a dozen and in this case it's sad. The plot was well-conceived even if the main character was memorable if only for his Mr. Rogers-like manner. He remained a neutral, gray, handicapped figure who just didn't "get it" even when it was as plain as Aunt Sally's dress.
Plot - A
Setting - C
Characters - C (the bad guy ets a B)
Dialogue - B (witty at times)
Resolution - D
Great for a vacation