Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors ever. However, he has a note at the beginning of this book for new readers. “Okay, if this is the first book of mine you’re going to try, stop now. Return it. Grab another. It’s okay. I’ll wait.” When I first saw this, I found it odd, but upon completion of the book, I understood it and agreed with it. This was his second published novel, and he admits that it is flawed, but that he still loves it. That being said, it is not my favorite of his novels, but it was not a bad book by any means. I think that if you are unfamiliar with his work, it might be better to take his advice and read some other works of his first.
Anyway, in this book, much like many of his other books, sports play a big role. One of the main characters, Michael Silverman, is a basketball star, and he is married to a TV journalist, Sara Lowell. This novel is widely about finding a cure for AIDS, and Coben does well to raise several issues in the novel that I had never before thought about. He points out that there are those who view finding a cure to AIDS as a secondary problem to other, supposedly bigger medical issues. There is only a certain amount of funding that medical causes receive from the government, and in this novel, there are those who want to see those funds taken away and used in other areas, such as cancer research, etc. Coben points out that there are people who are opposed to a cure because it is seen as only a disease prevalent to homosexuals and drug users, and no one should care about people like that. He raises issues in this book that I found interesting to read about; I never thought people would have had less interest in finding a cure for a deadly disease based on these issues alone.
Michael and Sara happen to be very close friends with Dr. Riker, who has dedicated his life to finding a cure for AIDS. He confides in the couple that he believes he has found a treatment for the disease; unfortunately, someone wants that cure stopped bad enough to kill the patients that have been cured thereby to destroy the evidence. Riker finds himself in danger and trying to carry on his work while those most important to the work are dying around him.
Like all Harlan Coben novels, this book is filled with deceit and twists that all come together perfectly at the end. The writing is clear and consistent, and only confusing in that it is hard to imagine how it will all end. It is hard to imagine who is pulling what strings, and you might just find yourself surprised at the end to discover who was on what side. There are many dangerous players in this game, and Coben is a master of keeping the reader in suspense throughout the whole novel.
Again, I will say that this is not my favorite of Coben’s books, but I did still enjoy reading it. I think that it would be beneficial to take his advice and read some other works of his first, and then come back to this one later. If, however, you have read others of his, pick it up! Or if you are interested in medical topics and controversial issues, I think you would find this book appealing. It talks about some things in the novel that wouldn’t be appropriate for younger readers, and a lot of the medical information might go over a younger reader’s head, but it is an interesting read for adults. If you do read this and like it, I would highly recommend any other Harlan Coben’s other books, as I think he is a fantastic author and you won’t be disappointed.