Caught by Harlan Coben
From Amazon ~
17-year-old Haley McWaid is a good girl, the pride of her suburban New Jersey family, captain of the lacrosse team, headed off to college next year with all the hopes and dreams her doting parents can pin on her. Which is why, when her mother wakes one morning to find that Haley never came home the night before, and three months quickly pass without word from the girl, the community assumes the worst.
Wendy Tynes is a reporter on a mission, to identify and bring down sexual predators via elaborate—and nationally televised—sting operations. Working with local police on her news program Caught in the Act, Wendy and her team have publicly shamed dozens of men by the time she encounters her latest target. Dan Mercer is a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens, but his story soon becomes more complicated than Wendy could have imagined.
In a novel that challenges as much as it thrills, filled with the astonishing tension and unseen suburban machinations that have become Coben’s trademark, Caught tells the story of a missing girl, the community stunned by her loss, the predator who may have taken her, and the reporter who suddenly realizes she can’t trust her own instincts about this story—or the motives of the people around her.
My Review ~
What happens when the consequences of well-meaning choices inadvertently result in the cost of human life? What happened to just trusting your instincts?
Wendy Tynes is a new reporter doing a story on pedophiles who prey on young children on the Internet (think To Catch a Predator.) Pretending to be a teenage girl, Wendy lures Dan Mercer, a social worker with no family and very few friends, to the decoy house, springing the cameras and accusations at him. Dan, thinking he was coming to the aid of one of the children he counsels, flees the scene. At the preliminary hearing Dan’s lawyer does some fancy footwork and gets the charges dismissed. Meanwhile Wendy is approached by Ed Grayson, the father of one of Dan’s “victims”. He wants Wendy to help him find Dan so that he can seek his own brand of justice. Because he knows the town hates him, Dan goes into hiding. While in hiding, Dan contacts Wendy and asks her to meet. He tells her that he was set up and wants her help in figuring out who set him up. Because she starts to have some doubts about Dan’s guilt, Wendy agrees to the meeting. But unbeknownst to her is followed by Ed Grayson. What happens next will rock her to her core, yet at the same time will be very hard to prove.
Hailey McWaid is a beautiful, popular, happy teenager who vanishes one night. The anguish her parents feel is palpable throughout the pages of the book. How can a girl with everything going for her just disappear? They do their best to convince the police that she is not a runway and that something terrible has happened to her. Not only is the community devastated by the actions of Dan Mercer, they are trying to understand how a 17 -year -old girl can just disappear. Her parents struggle to go on for the sake of their other children, but can’t live without knowing what has happened to their beloved Hailey.
Jenna Wheeler is Dan’s ex-wife and closest friend. Dan is the g-dfather to her youngest child and babysits often. When the charges against Dan are leveled, she is the first one to defend him at the expense of her own reputation. She knows that he is not capable of the horrific things they are accusing him of. Will defending her ex force Jenna to flee to a place where no one knows her and what she’s been through?
Something about both the Dan Mercer story and Hailey’s disappearance bothers Wendy. And when Hailey’s phone is found in Dan’s motel room, she thinks maybe her instinct was wrong and she is missing something. So, being the investigative reporter she is, she starts digging. She finds a sinister connection between Dan and his former college roommates. All of whom have had their lives destroyed in one way or another and all who claim they have been set up. Could Wendy have been so wrong about Dan, causing the vigilante execution of an innocent man? The shocking information Wendy turns up will bring both closure to some while destroying others.
Caught is filled with so many twists and turns you will swear you’re on a roller coaster ride. Just when you think you have things figured out, a twist is thrown at you that takes things in a completely different direction with a stunning conclusion you will never see coming. Is everything really as it seems? Make sure you pre-order a copy of this book, because you don’t want to be the only one Caught not reading it.