A betwixt-and-between thriller from the talented chronicler of sports agent Myron Bolitar (Darkest Fear, 2000, etc.).
Eleven years after his brother Ken vanished after being accused of raping and strangling neighborhood girl Julie Miller, Will Klein’s dying mother tells him that Ken’s still alive. Then, several hours after her funeral, Will suffers an even more devastating loss when his lover Sheila Rogers, a volunteer at Covenant House, the New York shelter for street kids Will runs, disappears as well. And there’s even worse news: Joseph Pistillo, the FBI’s top man in New York, is not only still looking for Ken, whom he turns out to have a damningly personal reason for wanting to find; he suspects Sheila, who never told Will anything about her turbulent past except that she’d run away from home, was up to no good as well. With the help of Julie’s kid sister Katy and his omnicompetent sidekick Squares, an ex-Nazi turned franchise fitness guru, Will goes in search of the truth about Ken and Sheila, ignoring Pistillo’s threats of legal action and the even more dire threats of Ken’s murderously well-connected school buddies John Asselta, the Ghost (ex-wrestler), and Philip McGuane (ex–student council president) in an attempt to stand on his own two feet after years of hiding behind his big brother’s strength. Will’s newfound courage comes too late to help Sheila, who’s already been killed and dumped at the side of a Nebraska road. But will it save Ken, or Katy, or Will himself?
Coben dispenses crucial plot twists with an eyedropper, expertly wringing the maximum suspense out of each jaw-dropping surprise. After a while, though, the high-energy revelations begin to sprawl, and this synthetic, highly enjoyable tale ends up stuck between grim realism and the sort of wish-fulfillment fantasy in which nobody, not even the dead, is ever gone for good.