People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
The most important revelation in Play Dead comes in the note the author added 20 years later to its re-release. "If this is the first book of mine you're going to try, stop now. Return it. Grab Another." I offer this as a public service because there is no way to heed this advice without first buying the audiobook (it's not in the audio sample). Coben knows this was a first novel by a young writer, lacking the maturity and focus of his later work. He's right.
If you've never read Coben before, he has a LOT of other worthwhile books to try. This one is for completists only. This one is interesting to someone like me who has read and enjoyed many of his novels, someone happy to see foreshadowing of the writer to come, warts and all. The familiar themes of family dysfunction are here, the page turning, car idling suspense is here, and love him or hate him, the narration of Scott Brick is here (I listened at 1.25x).
The big problem is this: Robert McKee describes credible plot structure is his book Story and (in)famous writing seminars -- people attempt the minimum necessary to solve issues (why do more?). When that doesn't work, they go to the next level. In a well-plotted story, this process ratchets up until the climax. In Play Dead, by contrast, the characters go striaght to the most extreme lengths. Who starts with Plan Z without ever giving Plans A and B a try?
From the start, Coben deliberately telegraphs two big reveals.Which of course signals that they're not the ultimate twists. But he plays along as if they are a big secret. No big deal, since the the characters, lacking the information we receive, do not see it coming. But there are two hours left and two huge twists still to come -- and the biggie is just off the charts preposterous, as well as unnecessary. You'll see what I mean about going straight to Plan Z when you get there (don't want to spoil anything).
Nevertheless, even with the flaws that Coben readily admits in his author's note, this is a good read for those already steeped in the Coben canon who temper their expectations accordingly.
I really liked the twisted ending of this story. I mean I was certain I knew who the killer was but was surprised at the end.
What I didn't like was all the references to how beautiful every one was. I don't think it was necessary. Also I felt like this was more a love story than a murder mystery.
So with that being said I don't think you would be surprised when I say I liked "Hold Tight" much better.
I still would recommend this book to others and I will purchase other works by this writer and narrator.
I've been having this problem with Audio for the past year also I will call them they will fix it and then a go back to cut it off in the middle of the book so that's the part that I do not like- but I do like the person the narrator he was good but the quality of audio was bad
I have been listening to all of Harlen Corben's work. In his preface, he indicates that this is one of his earliest works and that you might want to read something else that he is written. To the contrary, this is one of his best and is quite captivating. It is very hard to put down and much better than his comments would indicate. I really enjoyed this and would recommend it to anyone.
I read two other Harlan Coben books this week, his 20th (HOLD TIGHT ) and his 31st (THE STRANGER), which led me to print out his books in chronological order and thus the numerical reference. I just finished PLAY DEAD (apologies for this bleepin' program that will not let one italicize, underline, or bold), which is his very first book.
His forward in this book is interesting and he states he didn't change a word from the original. I loved the book, but would have been happy with a slight revision and elimination of much of the characters' inward psychobabble (that little voice in the head that talks to us ... not sure what the correct terminology is) and too long descriptions. It became annoying to me by the end of the book.
But who am I to even comment on this genius. Simply another amazing story, totally different from the other two and I will be going broke buying all the rest. I don't know how one person can think of so many twists and turns.
This would not be complete without adding that narrator (phenomenal actor actually!)SCOTT BRICK again does a fantastic job.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Kept my attention from start to finish. Fascinating to listen to the first book of one of today's authors. Even 26 years later you can tell this was going to be a great story teller.