02 September 2010

Gone for Good - Harlan Coben

There's something wonderful about borrowed books! You know, you see it in someone's hand, and you lust after it with all your mind! You ask them for the book, or like some nice people, they give it to you when they see the crazy look in your eye :P and then you read it in one big hurry! Somewhere in between, they ask you whether you like it, and you say "YES"! Then they look really proud that they gave you the book, and you enjoyed it! And then, when you return the book, both of you spend a good 10 minutes discussing the characters and the best parts of the book, and how some character was really funny ("Hahaha! He was so funny, riiiighhht! hhahahahha!") and the villain was really villainous, and all that. Then the conversation ends with you saying, "You know what, I have another book by that author. Have you read it? No?! Then I'll bring it for you tomorrow, okay? Okay, yar. Thanks a lot, huh?!" And then it is that person's turn to look forward to the book....!!! Wow! If you love reading like I do, you probably just lived that whole thing in your mind just now, and are totally craving a new novel!! I know I am!

Anyway, Gone for Good by Harlan Coben is just such a book. I borrowed it from a friend, and read it in the shortest time possible inspite of a day-job, a daughter, loads of dishes, laundry, 3 meals to cook, a bad back, and the insanely childish urge to crash in bed at 9:30pm!!! And that, for me, is 1 week.

I loved the book. One of the best reads I have had in a really long time. It had action, drama, love, romance...no scratch that...it had almost NO romance. I honestly think that was why it was good! Leave the romance to chick-flicks and Jennifer Aniston, people. In a book, you want characters, drama, and pathos. This book had that. Oh, and a heck of a lot of twists...a tad too many if you ask me, but it kept me hooked, and that's all that matters, really.

The main character is Will Klein, whose life is filled with tragedy and horror that no one, including himself, wants to talk about. A few years ago, his girlfriend was found raped and murdered, his brother (and his hero) Ken is believed to have done it. Ken went into hiding, and the government has been looking for him ever since. Some say that Ken is probably dead, and Will slowly begins to believe that. Will's father is continuously grieving the loss of his favorite son, and the loss of the happiness of the ever-lovable mother, who used to be like a ray of sunshine in all their lives. Will becomes a social worker in an organization that takes in children off the streets, and rehabilitates them. He also now has a beautiful girlfriend, Sheila, who is all that he could ever have hoped for, and some more. Sometimes Will cannot even believe that he got this lucky.

Harlan Coben
The story begins with the death of the mother, and the shocking secret she relieves minutes before she breathed her last - Ken is alive! Will later finds a picture of his brother (much older now) and keeps it a secret from his father. He ventures out to search for his brother, and is helped by Squares, a former anti-semitic who is now a yoga guru, and is in love with an Afro-American model! Will's search for his brother becomes more and more complicated as Sheila suddenly disappears, and is found murdered in another state, and he unearths many horrific details about his brother, and about the woman he loves.

The story takes us into the darkest, most revolting depths of human-trafficking, drug-trafficking, murder, and the sleazy dealings between criminals, the law, and the police. At the end, your emotions can go two ways - you either feel disgust for the human race in general, of you feel that there is still some hope in this world, as long as people like Will Klein exist. 

My favorite character is Squares. He is a huge bunch of paradoxes. He looks like a gangster, but is a compassionate social worker who just wants to get little kids off the streets before they are pulled in to the filth of human-trafficking and crime. He is going to be the father to the child of an Afro-American woman whom he loves with all his heart, but used to be part of a Klu Klux Klan and used to be staunchly anti-semitic. He even had the Nazi symbol, the swastika, tattooed onto his forehead, but then added a few more lines and made it into a square! Hence the unusual name. 

Squares' words of wisdom - you should never judge a person by their appearance and activities. A person who looks dangerous could very well have a sympathetic heart inside, while a person with the most benign smile might turn out to be the devil himself! Just because someone was a pleasant and seemingly innocent person when you met them, does not mean that they will always be nice, or have always been this pleasant! Basically, what he is trying to say it, "Don't put anything past people! The human personality is so complex, that you can never assess what is going on inside a person's mind! So, simply don't judge, or form any conclusive opinions." Now, that's very pragmatic, level-headed talk, if you ask me.

Gone for Good is, as they say, Un-putdownable! I know that's a cliche, but there is nothing that describes this book better! This one's begging to be made into a movie - probably Matthew Macfadyen playing Will Klein, because he has the face of the naive guy that everyone takes advantage of. Also, I can only think of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith for the role of Squares!
Look at him! This is what, in Malayalam, we refer to as "Paccha paavam"!! Painfully, adorably innocent and naive

Okay, stop. Question: Has this book already been made into a movie? Hope I'm not making a big fool of myself here! :P Will you let me know in the comments?...whether the movie has been made, that is!


Karen Xavier said...

Ha ha... I know exactly what you are feeling here!!! That's how I felt when I finished Gone For Good, it was terrific with all the twists and the biggest twist at the ending!!! This guy, Harlan Coben is good. I've been recommending this book to everybody... and then when I don't hear from them in two weeks, I know that they are stuck to the book, and when they emerge its the same gushing all over again...

Karen Xavier said...

Oh yes, I forgot, the guy pictured here would be perfect for Will... Ken has to be handsome, so we'll make him Brad Pitt or something. I don't think a movie is out yet. And if you like this book, then you should try John Grisham's 'The Partner' and 'The Street Lawyer'. They are totally also Un-putdownable.

Jane Hamilton said...

Hey Karen! Yeah, Brad Pitt would be great for this role, although I kinda feel his wrinkles are beginning to show. What about Matt Damon? He can look dashing, heart-melting, and ruthless all at the same time...? Hmmm... Hey, do you know that in almost all Hollywood movies the casting directors are women? Yep...seems they do a really good job at this...Cool, huh! Look out for it when you watch movies next time...

Anyway, this movie will be a thrill to watch....Hollywood, are you listening? :P

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