I vividly remember nuclear survival drills in grammar school in the 1960’s. The drills began when I entered kindergarten and continued until sometime in seventh or eighth grade. As we got older, it became a time to break the monotony of the day with a little movement and unabashed teasing of whoever looked the silliest under the desk or tables (at some point we were too big to get under a desk.) Maybe those drills affected us more than we realized. They were so common place, so much a part of our life. Today, the reminders of those scary times are evident in the abandoned missile bases that dot the US with their No Trespassing signs and fenced perimeters. I can still hear the siren screaming through my grammar school.
Maybe that’s why our generation became the helicopter parents and soccer moms, shielding our children passionately from every discomfort. Wanting our children to thrive in a stress-free world.
Children, especially teenagers, are never stress free either by their own accord or that of their surroundings, even with all their parents’ best intentions. Harlan Coben has taken that teenage angst mixed with hormones and woven it into a tight whodunit with a closed nuclear Nike base as the background.
Nap Dumas lost his twin brother, Leo, when they were seniors in high school. Leo and his girlfriend, Diana Styles, were killed by a train. Suicide or accident? Fast forward and Nap is now a New Jersey detective and has been called to an out-of-state case involving the killing of a police officer. Not understanding why he has been summoned, he complains bitterly until he finds out that the fingerprints of his high school girlfriend, Maura, were found at the scene. Maura had disappeared right after Leo had been killed and Nap has been looking for her ever since.
With this new information Nap sets out once again in search of Maura. He turns to his mentor, Captain Styles, Diana’s father for guidance. Nap believes that Maura’s disappearance and the death
of Leo and Diana are linked and begins to probe into his brother’s death. Some of Leo’s friends start to die, ramping up the pace and suspense of this story. Nap keeps coming back to Leo’s Conspiracy Club that he started with his friends. The teens wanted to know why the Nike based closed down so abruptly in 1974. Could the closure have something to do with Leo’s death? Is there a government conspiracy?
As a book club, we always enjoy Coben’s books and love the Jersey locale. He has a way of taking suburban life and twisting a little here and there and coming up with a hell of a good tale. We talked about our childhoods under desks in school and how we are glad our children didn’t have to go through that. We also talked about what we really do and don’t know about the people closest to us. We ended up talking about trust and forgiveness.
We Jersey girls love to support our Jersey boy! Go, Harlan – another winner!