In his latest stand-alone thriller, Coben writes about how far parents are ready to go to protect their own children, and raises the controversial issue of the right they have to invade their privacy. Is it all right, he asks, to spy on a child, to betray his trust, if it’s for the greater good, in the kid’s own interest? Of course, there is no easy answer to this question, as the novel conclusion shows…

Tia and Mike are worried about their teenaged son Adam. Since his best friend, Spencer, committed suicide, Adam has been withdrawn and has turned away from his previous interests. After many hesitations, Tia and Mike decide to cross the line and to spy on Adam’s online conversation, e-mails, and Internet browsing, and quickly stumble upon a worrying message from an unidentified correspondent advising Adam to “just stay quiet and all safe”. Some time after, Adam goes missing and Tia and Mike’s search for him lead them to wonder if by spying on their kid they might have opened Pandora’s box…

At the same time, also in the New Jersey, not far from where Adam’s family lives, a man kidnaps a woman and beats her to death, initiating what could be a series of gruesome murders. Chief Investigator Loren Muse has to go against the men working for her and who are ready to mistake the victim for a prostitute, as the murderer intended. But Loren Muse feels that something different is at stake behind this murder…

Like other Harlan Coben’s thrillers, Hold Tight grabs the attention of the reader from the first pages and is hard to put down. But the plot is more straightforward than in other novels, and I was surprised not to be as surprised by the twists as usual. Coben has probably been reproached his convoluted, sometimes implausible plots, and seems to aim for more simplicity this time. Coben usually pulls the carpet from under our feet with twists that put everything we think we know in question, and here, the twists seemed a bit weak and anticlimactic and, frankly, I missed the surprise effect. Still a good, mostly satisfying thriller…

Rating: 3,5/5