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Posted: April 10, 2022

Run Away is an intense look at family

Book Review

By Derryll White

Coben, Harlan (2019).  Run Away.

Harlan Coben is the author of 33 novels and has over 75 million books in print worldwide.  You Have probably heard of him.  He recently signed a deal with Netflix and has so far had five of his novels released as movies.

Coben is very effective at taking a reader down dark, lonely roads of the soul.  In this novel Simon Green’s oldest daughter has morphed from a sweet young thing to a drug addict suspected of murder.  His wife, Ingrid, has been shot through the head and is in a coma.  The reader is left constantly asking, “How can he go on?  If I was in his shoes I would pack it in, become a turnip!”

But Simon does go on, worrying about his wife and searching for his daughter.  Intense action carries the novel forward along with Coben’s forceful dialogue.

‘Run Away’ is an intense look at family – how the family unit is constructed, how it works, and the inevitable secrets embedded in it.  Harlan Coben rips all the band-aids off.  He explores the strengths people have, hidden away deep and private.  The reader comes to understand the reserves people have, the feats they are capable of.

This is a soul-wrenching novel that explores today’s nasty drug culture and the nature of cults.  At its core, however, is the shining concept of ‘family.’  The storytelling is immaculate, the writing crisp and focused.  This may be Coben’s best work to date.


Excerpts from the novel:

DIGITAL UNIVERSE – “This too shall pass, Simon, if we don’t feed the fire.  By tomorrow.  The next day at the latest, the loonies will be on to the newest outrage.  America has zero attention span.”

KIDS – You go through every damn moment like that because even though his mother had warned him, you quickly learn that your child comes to you hardwired, that in the battle of nature vs nurture, nature kicks complete and total ass – still, when things go wrong, when something this dark invades your child’s soul, you can only wonder where the hell you went wrong.

PRIVILEGE –  Here was how it worked: Elena’s firm, VMB Investigations, was one of the most prestigious in the country, with offices u=in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Houston.  Investigators like those at VMB need access, so they donate generously to political campaigns and police benevolent groups of various stripes.  One of her senior partners, Manny Andrews, was a big backer of the current governor.  That governor is the one who named Loren Muse county prosecutor.  So Manny Andrews calls the governor, the governor calls Muse.  Muse in turn calls the lead detective on the case, Nap Dumas.

The message: cooperate.

Nothing illegal.  If you gasp at this sort of favor exchanging, you are hopelessly naïve.

CULTS – “We think all religions are crazy – except our own.”

He didn’t want to admit it, but she had a point.  And yet something in her tone…

“The Truth is more than a religion.  It’s a living, breathing entity.  The Truth has always existed.  It will always exist.  Most people’s God lives in the past – thousands of years ago, stuck in old books.  Why?  So they think God gave up on them?  Mine is here.  Today.  In the real world.  When this Truth dies, his offspring will continue.  Because the Truth lives.  The Truth, if you could be objective, Ash, if you hadn’t been brainwashed by the big religions since childbirth, makes more sense than talking snakes or elephant gods, doesn’t it?”

TIME – They say time slows down at times of great danger, almost like Neo being able to see and dodge bullets in The Matrix.  That was just al illusion, of course.  Time is constant.  But Simon remembered reading that this particular time illusion was caused by how we store memory.  The richer and denser the memory of an event – for example, during moments when you are terrified – the longer you perceive that event lasted.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at

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