By Marty Mulrooney
Found by Harlan Coben is the third book in the Mickey Bolitar series of young adult novels, following on from Shelter (which Alternative Magazine described as “a gripping little thriller than should be bought and read as soon as possible, regardless of the reader’s age”) and Seconds Away (“a highly pleasing sequel that is also a taut little thriller in its own right”). As the mysteries surrounding the Abeona Shelter continue to thicken, Mickey Bolitar is drawn into a series of personal investigations that may not be as unrelated at they first appear…
Eight months ago, I watched my father’s coffin being lowered into the ground. Today I was watching it being dug back up.
Found wouldn’t make a good starting point for those new to the world of Mickey Bolitar. There is a nice little recap at the very beginning to refresh reader’s memories, but there’s no mistaking this as anything other than the third part of an ongoing series – so if you haven’t read the first two books, what are you waiting for? Still here? Good. Much like its predecessors, this is an excellent little thriller that will answer some long-lingering questions for fans, unearth a few more and throw in several new mysteries along the way for good measure.
One of those long-lingering questions concerns the death of Mickey’s father. The Bat Lady kicked off the first book by opening the front door of her infamous dilapidated house, pointing her finger at Mickey and telling him that his father was still alive. Found begins with his father’s coffin being exhumed, the highly suspicious contents offering no answers and raising even more questions. The ‘Butcher of Lodz’ is still at large, Spoon is in the hospital (he may never walk again) and Ema’s online boyfriend has gone missing. It’s a good job Mickey Bolitar isn’t your average teenager…
I was having fun, especially when the attention turned away from me and they let me just observe and listen. I laughed a lot. I tried to remember the last time I laughed this much, and I don’t think I ever had. I wanted the world to go away. I wanted to forget about the Abeona Shelter or missing kids or my dad or…
Or Spoon in that hospital bed.
Except in many ways, Mickey is your average teenager. He wants to make friends, he wants to fit in, he wants to have a normal life. That’s what makes him such a likeable, well-written protagonist. Most readers will be able to relate to the all too familiar world of being at school and the many difficulties it can throw up on a day-to-day basis, obstacles to overcome that seem a million miles away from the daily life of an adult. It’s the mixture of the fantastical (a secret organisation devoted to helping children in trouble) and the relatively mundane (fitting in on the basketball team) that gives Found – and the series as a whole – its unique flavour.
The latest mystery – running alongside the ongoing quest to discover the truth about Mickey’s father – centres around a so-far hostile character who has tested positive for drugs and wants to clear his name. It’s a nice change of pace to have this person, who has always been antagonistic to Mickey and his friends, suddenly needing their help and trying to gain their trust. Spoon is confined to his hospital bed for the duration but every visiting hour is a joy – he’s as funny and random as ever – and Ema is still a strongly written female character who has Mickey’s back every step of the way. Sadly, Rachel still hasn’t been fleshed out enough to become an integral part of the team and it can sometimes feel like Mr Coben doesn’t quite know what to do with her.
I saw Luther’s leg on the top step.
I ran and leapt toward it. I grabbed the ankle and hung on for all I was worth. I was actually suspended in the air, my grip on his ankle loosening, when I felt his other foot stomp on my arm. I didn’t care. I hung on.
Found builds upon the strengths of the previous two books. It’s yet another young adult novel that adults can happily enjoy too. The main characters are likeable and believable, the villains are complex and not always who you think they are and the separate investigations all merge together in a highly satisfying way. If you’re already a fan this is a no-brainer – everyone else should be sure to start from the beginning. You’ll thank me when you reach the final pages of Found – as both a shocking ending and a new beginning it’s the best payoff you could imagine.
9 OUT OF 10