Don’t Let Go: An utterly compelling story, but with a MC I didn’t know what to do with

Dont Let go book review

What is this about?: Napolean Dumas is a cop, a single man living in his family home, and presenting the very picture of a normal man to the world. On the side, he helps his BFF Ellie who runs a shelter for domestic violence victims by beating up the jerks that beat them, and putting them in the hospital. And he talks to his dead brother in his head and obsesses over his death and the missing high school girlfriend, Maura.

What else is this about?: Nap — his nickname — is cold. Disturbingly so. He is obsessed about his missing girlfriend to the point that he put her prints on file at his job to ensure he’d be called if they ever appeared. The only time he shows emotion is when he’s talking to his dead brother in his head or getting angry at people for not telling him things about Maura the fateful night she disappeared.

Blurb: With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for. 

When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.

Don’t Let Go has a blurb that actually does live up to the book this time around — I really do believe Coben is an excellent writer and I flew threw this in a matter of days to and from work. I can’t deny though that Nap makes me slightly uncomfortable because he’s written as a man one step from losing it — and the book bears this out in some ways.

Napolean Dumas

His father was French and so that explains the name. Napolean (Nap) is a cop, a man who toes the line when it comes to being a cop, but will beat up the men who send their wives fleeing to Ellie’s shelter. Then he’ll go home, and do all the right things to present to his neighbourhood the very picture of a normal single guy, the kind who has history in the neighbourhood, and is accepted so people don’t think of him as a pedophile in the making.

He’s calculating and cold, and that’s helped him survive his brother’s death, then his father’s, and Maura’s disappearance. The problem with the last, is that his love for her is so obsessive, I’m almost afraid for her in some moments. He has a very specific picture of Maura in his head, and I wondered what their relationship would b like if he truly saw and understood the woman she is now.

Nap is relentless in his pursuit of answers, efficient and cold as the investigation progresses. He will go through anyone to get what he wants.

That said, I can’t deny I found this utterly compelling given the speed with which I just ate this up. Pacing here is exceptional, with Coben bringing decades-old storylines into the present, and propelling Nap along in his investigation. Secrets come to light, highlighting just how out of the loop he was back then with his twin brother’s life — and it is odds with the closeness he seems to have with Leo in his dead.

Don’t get me wrong, they were brothers and they loved each other, but Leo kept secrets and Nap thought he told him everything. The other characters in this story all have their secrets, and it’s something illuminating just how Nap didn’t bother to look deeper into the people closest to him, for all the brilliant cop that he is. Perhaps, it speaks to how blinded he is by those closest to him?

I’m not sure yet, but I wouldn’t mind continuing to read this series to find out.

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