home by coben book coverReviewed by R.A. Donley

Superheroes generally come in two types: those with super powers (Superman, Mr. Incredible) and those who are merely exceptional humans assisted by technology (Batman.) We have Batman here, along with Robin. Winthrop Lockwood tells his part of the story in first person while Myron Bolitar is depicted in third person.

Two six-year-old boys from different families, cared for by an au pair, are kidnapped from the U.S. home of one, only to have the ransom exchange fail. Ten years later one of them is discovered in London but the initial rescue attempt by Winthrop fails. Then we’re off on a highly involved chase largely centered on finding the second child. Along the way family secrets are brought into the open and we learn the reason for the title. In addition there’s plenty of gore and a number of beautiful and/or exotic women.

Coben is a decent writer with plenty of successful books behind him including several in the Myron Bolitar series. He knows how to develop plot twists and describe thrilling action scenes, some of each quite unexpected. Colorful new associates are introduced as the plot develops, and there are numerous twists, surprises and gimmicks. Rest assured that those who like this sort of thing and are willing to suspend a certain amount of disbelief will find Home quite satisfying.

As for others, of whom I’m one, not so much.

Home is similar to all too many thrillers, and the lead characters too close to stereotypes. Needed specialists and contacts are readily at hand and always appear in jig time, with money never seeming to be in short supply. Bruce Wayne, anyone? In my view everyone important to the plot seems too sharp, too capable, too superhero-ish. Even the bad guys are super-villains. They’re all so slick in many ways, even the high school sophomores.

There are draggy parts. Considerable background is introduced, doing little to advance the plot and seemingly brought in to reference the series. Time is wasted on un hommage to New Jersey and its native sons and daughters. Dialog is filled with quips and one-upmanship as if the characters are performing in a reality show and aware the cameras are rolling. Plus it ends in a shower of corn.

Then again, the manuscript I read was in need of another edit and exceedingly poorly formatted, possibly souring my appreciation. It’s always easier to criticize than to create, of course. Still, taking everything into consideration, if condemned to exile on a desert island this wouldn’t be one of the books in my trunk.

Donley enjoys a quasi-rural life in the snowy part of Ohio, battling with deer, possums, raccoons and other wilderness denizens. A life-long reader with broad interests in books and music, he wishes he’d paid more attention to Mrs. Moore in tenth-grade English.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Dutton. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.