It’s a Mystery: Caught, by Harlan Coben

3.0 out of 5 stars Set ups

Harlan Coben takes on the issue of vigilantism in this story about a high profile TV reporter, Wendy Tynes, who entraps men suspected of being child molesters. Wendy has been successful with these ploys until she catches one Dan Mercer, who protests his innocence and is acquitted, only to find himself the target of outraged parents. After all, everyone now knows he’s a pedophile. Wendy is fired, and devotes herself to further investigation when Dan is murdered. This promises to be an engaging plot, but it becomes so complicated with a conglomeration of ancillary characters that the plot gets lost in the shuffle. Among these are a middle aged white rapper named “Ten-a-fly”, a missing teenager, a group of Princeton alums who keep getting involved in scandals, a TV judge, and the woman who killed Wendy’s husband in a DWI accident and who wants Wendy’s forgiveness. As a result, no one character, not even Wendy, is given much depth, and it’s difficult to care about what happens to any of them. The point of all this is that Wendy may indeed be guilty of fingering an innocent man, and she longs for his forgiveness, and she must reconcile her anger at the drunk driver with her guilt over her mistaken judgment. This is an honorable theme, but Coben takes his readers all around Robin Hood’s barn to get there.


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