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Reviewed by:
  • Shelter
  • Claire Gross
Coben, Harlan. Shelter. Putnam, 2011. [288p]. (A Mickey Bolitar Novel) ISBN 978-0-399-25650-9 $18.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 9–12.

A sophomore in high school may not be the ideal candidate for a noir hero, but Mickey Bolitar is the estranged nephew of Myron Bolitar, hero of Coben’s adult hardboiled mystery series, and he’s ready. He’s been all over the globe with his parents on humanitarian aid projects, he’s experienced significant personal trauma in the recent past (his father died in a car crash that he witnessed, and his mother subsequently spiraled into an addiction that landed her in rehab), and he’s just moved to a new town with a wealth of seedy secrets lurking in its alleys. One of these secrets causes his “preppy beauty” girlfriend of three weeks to disappear without a trace, and his investigation leads him into a web of mystery that inexplicably connects to Mickey’s father’s death, the past exploits of a local crazy lady, a prostitution ring, Greek myth, and Holocaust history. If this sounds like a bit much, that’s because it is: coincidences and fantastically capable sleuthing abound, and some action sequences are just plain unbelievable (if a guy has your friend at knifepoint, for instance, running him over with a truck probably won’t save her from being knifed). Furthermore, Mickey is too much a traditional laconic noir hero to be plausible as a high-school student: an affinity for texting and a tendency towards proclamations of “no fair” do not a teenager make, and Mickey frequently embarks on philosophical digressions and even situational summations that read far older than the character’s years. Nevertheless, the intriguing layers of mystery and connection, the strong human appeal of a quixotic quest to save the downtrodden, and the quick, sure pacing make this a plausible choice for mystery fans.



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