By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Book: Tell No One

I always carry a book in my purse or backpack — a paperback, usually, that I can open and read a few pages from while I’m waiting for a meeting to start. Sometimes, it’s a book I’ve read a few times before, such as one of the “Cat Who...” novels; other times it’s one that is intriguing, though light.

Harlan Coben’s “Tell No One” started as one of these, but eventually hooked me and I kept reading all the way through. It’s not mind-blowing — or stretching — and it requires quite a bit of suspension of disbelief; but it was a good diversion, especially between several heavier books.

The first three chapters seem like three separate beginnings, especially chapters one and two. But Coben manages to bring them all together into a single, convoluted plot line.

We first meet David and Elizabeth Beck as they sneak out to a childhood rendezvous to celebrate the anniversary of their first kiss. They’ve been married a couple years at this point, although they’ve been constant companions since childhood. They’re enjoying their evening until, suddenly, Elizabeth is kidnapped and David is knocked unconscious.

Suddenly, it’s eight years later and we meet David again. Now he’s a widowed doctor in a clinic for the children of one of New York’s poorest and toughest neighborhoods — nearly a saint, in other words.

He’s also caring for his elderly grandfather, who has dementia; paying for his mother’s care in a mental hospital, where she’s been housed since his father’s sudden death in a car wreck that may have been a suicide; and being a great brother and great friend to his sister, Linda, and her paramour, Shauna — the latter a character into which Coben poured every stereotype he could find.

While Shauna is a caricature, I liked how Coben painted young TJ, a patient with hemophilia, and his dad, Tyrese, who looks like a thug but loves, loves, loves his little boy. David may be intended as the most sympathetic character in the book, but Tyrese is more likable.

David receives a mysterious e-mail, hinting that his wife may still be alive. And he’s off on a wild chase to find out if that’s true — a quest that puts everyone he knows in danger. It’s far-fetched at times, but exciting, too.

“Tell No One,” by Harlan Coben, Dell, 2009

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