Book Two of the Mickey Bolitar novels
By Harlan Coben
Available now from Putnam (Penguin)
Read my review of SHELTER
Sometimes you gotta have faith in people. I really enjoyed SHELTER until the end revealed that the bad guy was a ninety-year-old Nazi. Turns out SECONDS AWAY starts with Mickey frustrated because that makes zero sense. But he doesn't have much time to ponder the bad-guy-who-doesn't-age before his friend Rachel gets shot in the head. (It's just a flesh wound!)
Mickey, Spoon, and Ema band back together in order to discover who tried to kill their friend. They're all dealing with fallout from the last book. Mickey's being watched by the cops, who dislike that he always seems to be at the center of trouble. Spoon is grounded for approximately forever. Okay, so Ema's not in trouble, but as she and Mickey get closer Mickey gets more suspicious of her secrets.
I do think Harlan Coben has a talent for writing teenagers. Mickey's often as worried about making the basketball team as he is about solving the various mysteries in his life. The teens continue to be constantly connected through their phones. And while Mickey, Spoon, and Ema have the makings of good investigators, their meddling often interferes with what the professionals are trying to do. They lack the experience and knowledge of the law needed to get criminals put behind bars. I disliked the stereotype of the belligerent police chief in SHELTER, but in SECONDS AWAY he eventually gets some nuance.
I did get the nagging sense during SECONDS AWAY that I should be reading Coben's adult Myron Bolitar mysteries to fill in a bit more of the backstory. But looking up blurbs for the Myron novels shows that the most recent, LIVE WIRE, introduced Mickey and his family and thus there probably isn't much information to be found there.
SECONDS AWAY is a terrific follow-up to SHELTER, though it doesn't further the series arc much. It is a decent thriller in and of itself. SECONDS AWAY is a good choice for those who want a book with a lot of action.