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Hold Tight

Hold Tight

4.0 189
by Harlan Coben, Scott Brick (Read by)

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Mike held his son’s hand and told him to “hold tight,” and he could feel the little hand dig into his but the crush got bigger and the little hand slipped from his and Mike felt that horrible panic, as if a wave hit them at the beach and it was washing his baby out with the tide.

The separation lasted only a few seconds, ten at the most, but Mike


Mike held his son’s hand and told him to “hold tight,” and he could feel the little hand dig into his but the crush got bigger and the little hand slipped from his and Mike felt that horrible panic, as if a wave hit them at the beach and it was washing his baby out with the tide.

The separation lasted only a few seconds, ten at the most, but Mike would never forget the spike in his blood and the terror of those brief few moments.

Tia and Mike Baye never imagined they’d become the type of overprotective parents who spy on their kids. But their sixteen-year-old son Adam has been unusually distant lately, and after the suicide of his classmate Spencer Hill - the latest in a string of issues at school - they can’t help but worry. They install a sophisticated spy program on Adam’s computer, and within days they are jolted by a message from an unknown correspondent addressed to their son: “Just stay quiet and all safe.”

Meanwhile, browsing through an online memorial for Spencer put together by his classmates, Betsy Hill is struck by a photo that appears to have been taken on the night of her son’s death…and he wasn’t alone. She thinks it is Adam Baye standing just outside the camera’s range; but when Adam goes missing, it soon becomes clear that something deep and sinister has infected their community. For Tia and Mike Baye, the question they must answer is this: When it comes to your kids, is it possible to know too much?

Editorial Reviews

Parents have an inborn right to get worried, so it seemed reasonable that after a suicide at their son's school, Tia and Mike Baye would secretly insert spyware into his home computer. For the first several days, their furtive surveillance uncovers nothing alarming, or at least nothing completely unexpected on the PC of a rambunctious 16-year-old boy. Then, just as the Baye's worries begin to ease, their world is jolted by a single cryptic six-word message: "Just stay quiet and all safe." When Adams goes missing, full-throttle terror enters their lives. A whodunit ripped from every parent's worst fear.
Chicago Sun-Times
The Woods might just be the best thing Coben has written. . . . A gripping story, filled with fine characters and dark secrets.
Boston Sunday Globe
Gripping. . . . The characters are authentic, the writing spare, and the courtroom drama so riveting.
Orlando Sentinel
Harlan Coben has been keeping me awake at night. . . . I devoured his latest bestseller The Woods. . . . Fortunately you won't have to worry about navigating impenetrable woods. Coben is the perfect guide, clearing all the hurdles with maximum speed and efficiency.
Publishers Weekly

Parents will find this compulsive page-turner from Edgar-winner Coben (The Woods) particularly unnerving. A sadistic killer is at play in suburban Glen Rock, N.J., outside New York City, but somehow he's less frightening than the more mundane problems that send ordinary lives into chaos. How do you weigh a child's privacy against a parent's right to know? How do you differentiate normal teenage rebelliousness from out-of-control behavior? When and how do you intervene if suicidal signs appear? Other issues include single parenting; career versus family; marital honesty; and how much information you should share with a child at what age. Coben plucks each of these strings like a virtuoso as Mike and Tia Baye try to deal with the increasing withdrawal of their 16-year-old son, Adam, after a friend's suicide. A pair of brutal, seemingly senseless killings, punctuate the unfolding domestic troubles that ratchet up the tension and engulf the Baye family, their friends and neighbors in a web of increasing tragedy. The "this could be me" factor lends poignancy to the thrills and chills. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Forbes Magazine
An aptly chosen title for Coben's newest novel. As in his previous mesmerizing masterpieces, this one grips you from beginning to end with its sizzling plots, subplots and all-too-human (and sometimes inhuman) characters. It also touches on an increasingly sensitive subject for today's parents-what their kids are doing on the Internet.

In this Coben tale a physician and his lawyer wife, after much agonizing, decide to install spy software in their teenage son Adam's computer. Since the suicide of a friend of Adam's, their son has become remote, withdrawn. But Adam's mother senses something else is at work, and her fears are further aroused when she and her husband come across a cryptic instant-message exchange. Then Adam disappears.

Before the book closes, we come across cyber-bullies, serial killings, a shady teenage hangout club in the Bronx and another explosive topic in these days of DNA testing: Is a kid's father his biological father? (2 June 2008)
—Steve Forbes
Library Journal

Coben (The Final Detail) continues to dominate the thriller genre in this latest examination of suburbia. Mike and Tia Baye's son Adam delivers typically teen angst to his befuddled family. As a precaution, Mike and Tia invest in a spyware program that will report every keystroke on Adam's personal computer so they can track his movements. The results terrify them, and then Adam disappears. Life moves forward, and the questions become complex: How far would you go to protect your family? How well do you know your children? Coben tackles the troubles not only of the Bayes but also of other families, creating a strikingly realistic X-ray of an entire neighborhood. A fast and exhilarating roller-coaster ride that you don't want to end, but hold on tight. Then take the time to hug your kids. A mandatory purchase. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/08.]
—Jeff Ayers

Kirkus Reviews
How much do you trust your children, and what would you do if your efforts to keep tabs on them pushed them even further away?Adam Baye is a good kid, but ever since he gave up hockey, the sport that seemed destined to finance his college education, his parents, a New Jersey transplant surgeon and a Manhattan lawyer, have been worried. So Mike and Tia install spyware on their son's computer. Once they can follow his every keystroke, visit every site he has logged onto and read every e-mail he has sent and received, they quickly realize that Adam is keeping dangerous secrets from them-so dangerous, in fact, that when he goes AWOL one night and refuses to answer his cell phone, Mike snoops further, using a GPS tracking service to follow Adam to Club Jaguar, way on the other side of the tracks. For his pains, Mike gets beaten up, then pulled in by the FBI, who tell him that the club, which ostensibly provides a haven where teens can safely act out, is a cover for some major felonies. What do the Bayes' problems have to do with the thoughtless remark with which schoolteacher Joe Lewiston ruined the life of Adam's sister Jill's best friend, Yasmin Novak? Or the revelation that desperately ill Lucas Loriman's father can't donate a kidney to his son because he's not the boy's father? Or the murdered Jane Doe whom Essex County Chief Investigator Loren Muse (The Woods, 2007, etc.) is trying to identify?There are surprises aplenty, but this time the ambitious scope-the anatomy of suburban vice-works against suspense; there are just too many cutaways to other embattled characters you want to root for but can't remember why.
From the Publisher
Praise for Hold Tight

“The writing is taut and slick. The intricate plot, told from the vantage points of a half-dozen characters, is a page-turner.”—Associated Press

“A thriller for the Google era.”—The New York Times

“In Hold Tight, Coben surpasses even his own best work.”—South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“A page turner...Hold Tight will keep you up all night.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Fast-paced.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Coben makes the normal terrifying...In Hold Tight, [he] surpasses even his own best work.”—Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

“Harlan Coben is at his best with this intimidating one sitting thriller...thought-provoking [and] timely.”—Midwest Book Review

“Parents will find this compulsive page-turner from Edgar-winner Coben particularly unnerving...Coben plucks each of these strings like a virtuoso...The ‘this could be me’ factor lends poignancy to the thrills and chills.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)


The New York Times
“A thriller for the Google era.”
Associated Press Staff
“Taut and slick...a page-turner.”
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“Relying more on psychological terror than gratuitous violence, Coben makes the normal terrifying…In Hold Tight, [he] surpasses even his own best work."

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Marianne nursed her third shot of Cuervo, marveling at her endless capacity to destroy any good in her pathetic life, when the man next to her shouted, "Listen up, sweetcakes: Creationism and evolution are totally compatible."

His spittle landed on Marianne's neck. She made a face and shot the man a quick glance. He had a big bushy mustache straight out of a seventies porn flick. He sat on her right. The over-bleached blonde with brittle hair of straw he was trying to impress with this stimulating banter was on her left. Marianne was the unlucky luncheon meat in their bad-pickup sandwich.

she tried to ignore them. She peered into her glass as if it were a diamond she was sizing up for an engagement ring. Marianne hoped that it would make the mustache man and straw-haired woman disappear. It didn't.

"You're crazy," Straw Hair said.

"Hear me out."

"Okay, I'll listen. But I think you're crazy."

Marianne said, "Would you like to switch stools, so you can be next to one another?"

Mustache put a hand on her arm. "Just hold on, little lady, I want you to hear this too."

Marianne was going to protest, but it might be easier not to. She turned back to her drink.

"Okay," Mustache said, "you know about Adam and Eve, right?"

"Sure," Straw Hair said.

"You buy that story?"

"The one where he was the first man and she was the first woman?"


"Hell, no. You do?"

"Yes, of course." He petted his mustache as if it were a small rodent that needed calming. "The Bible tells us that's what happened. First came Adam, then Eve was formed out of his rib."

Marianne drank. She drank for many reasons. Most of the time it was to party. She had been in too many places like this, looking to hook up and hoping it would come to more. Tonight, though, the idea of leaving with a man held no interest. She was drinking to numb and damn it if it wasn't working. The mindless chatter, once she let go, was distracting. Lessened the pain.

She had messed up.

As usual.

Her entire life had been a sprint away from anything righteous and decent, looking for the next unobtainable fix, a perpetual state of boredom punctuated by pathetic highs. She'd destroyed something good and now that she'd tried to get it back, well, Marianne had screwed that up too.

In the past, she had hurt those closest to her. That was her exclusive club of whom to emotionally maim-those she loved most. But now, thanks to her recent blend of idiocy and selfishness, she could add total strangers to the list of victims of the Marianne


For some reason, hurting strangers seemed worse. We all hurt those we love, don't we? But it was bad karma to hurt the innocent.

Marianne had destroyed a life. Maybe more than one.

For what?

To protect her child. That was what she'd thought.

Dumb ass.

"Okay," Mustache said, "Adam begot Eve or whatever the hell the term was."

"Sexist crap," Straw Hair said.

"But the word of God."

"Which has been proven wrong by science."

"Now just wait, pretty lady. Hear me out." He held up his right hand. "We have Adam"-then he held up his left-"and we have Eve. We have the Garden of Eden, right?"


"So Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel. And then Abel kills Cain."

"Cain kills Abel," Straw Hair corrected.

"You sure?" He frowned, thinking about it. Then he shook it off. "Look, whatever. One of them dies."

"Abel dies. Cain kills him."

"You're sure?"

Straw Hair nodded.

"Okay, that leaves us with Cain. So the question is, who did Cain reproduce with? I mean, the only other available woman is Eve and she's getting on in years. So how did mankind continue to survive?"

Mustache stopped, as if waiting for applause. Marianne rolled her eyes.

"Do you see the dilemma?"

"Maybe Eve had another kid. A girl."

"So he had sex with his sister?" Mustache asked.

"Sure. In those days, everyone did everyone, didn't they? I mean, Adam and Eve were the first. There had to be some early incest."

"No," Mustache said.


"The Bible forbids incest. The answer lies in science. That's what I mean. Science and religion can indeed coexist. It's all about Darwin's theory of evolution."

Straw Hair looked genuinely interested. "How?"

"Think about it. According to all those Darwinists, what did we descend from?"


"Right, monkeys or apes or whatever. So anyway Cain is cast out and he's wandering around this glorious planet on his own. You with me?"

Mustache tapped Marianne's arm, making sure she was paying attention. She turned slug-like in his direction. Lose the porn mustache, she thought, and you might have something here.

Marianne shrugged. "With you."

"Great." He smiled and arched an eyebrow. "And Cain is a man, right?"

Straw Hair wanted back in: "Right."

"With normal male urges, right?"


"So he's walking around. And he's feeling his oats. His natural urges. And one day, while walking through a forest"-another smile, another pet of the mustache-"Cain stumbles across an attractive monkey. Or gorilla. Or orangutan."

Marianne stared at him. "You're kidding, right?"

"No. Think about it. Cain spots something from the monkey family. They're the closest to human, right? He jumps one of the females, they, well, you know." He brought his hands together in a silent clap in case she didn't know. "And then the primate gets pregnant."

Straw Hair said, "That's gross."

Marianne started to turn back to her drink, but the man tapped her arm again.

"Don't you see how that makes sense? The primate has a baby. Half ape, half man. It's apelike, but slowly, over time, the dominance of mankind comes to the forefront. See? Voilà! Evolution and creationism made one."

He smiled as though waiting for a gold star.

"Let me get this straight," Marianne said. "God is against incest, but He's into bestiality?"

The mustached man gave her a patronizing, there-there pat on the shoulder."What I'm doing here is trying to explain that all the smarty-pants with their science degrees who believe that religion is not compatible with science are lacking in imagination. That's the problem. Scientists just look through their microscopes. Religionists just look at the words on the page. Neither is seeing the forest in spite of the trees."

"That forest," Marianne said. "Would that be the same one with the attractive monkey?"

The air shifted then. Or maybe it was Marianne's imagination. Mustache stopped talking. He stared at her for a long moment. Marianne didn't like it. There was something different there. Something off. His eyes were black, lightless glass, like someone had randomly jammed them in, like they held no life in them. He blinked and then moved in closer.

Studying her.

"Whoa, sweetheart. Have you been crying?"

Marianne turned to the straw-haired woman. She stared too.

"I mean, your eyes are red," he went on. "I don't mean to pry or anything. But, I mean, are you okay?"

"Fine," Marianne said. She thought that maybe there was a slur in her voice. "I just want to drink in peace."

"Sure, I get that." He raised his hands. "Didn't mean to disturb you."

Marianne kept her eyes on the liquor. She waited for movement in her peripheral vision. It didn't happen. The man with the mustache was still standing there.She took another deep sip. The bartender cleaned a mug with the ease of a man who'd done it for a very long time. She half-expected him to spit in it, like something from an old Western. The lights were low. There was the standard dark mirror behind the bar with the anti-cosmetic glass, so you could scope out your fellow patrons in a smoky thus flattering light.

Marianne checked the mustache man in the mirror.

He glared at her. She locked on those lightless eyes in the mirror, unable to move. The glare slowly turned into a smile, and she felt it chill her neck. Marianne watched him turn away and leave, and when he did, she breathed a sigh of relief.

She shook her head. Cain reproducing with an ape-sure, pal.

Her hand reached for her drink. The glass shook. Nice distraction, that idiotic theory, but her mind couldn't stay away from the bad place for long.

She thought about what she had done. Had it really seemed like a good idea at the time? Had she really thought it through-the personal price, the consequences to others, the lives altered forever?

Guess not.

There had been injury. There had been injustice. There had been blind rage. There had been the burning, primitive desire for revenge. And none of this biblical (or heck, evolutionary) "eye for an eye" stuff-what had they used to call what she'd done?

Massive retaliation.

She closed her eyes, rubbed them. Her stomach started gurgling. Stress, she imagined. Her eyes opened. The bar seemed darker now. Her head began to spin.

Too early for that.

How much had she drunk?

She grabbed hold of the bar, the way you do on nights like this, when you lie down after you have too much to drink and the bed starts twirling and you hang on because the centrifugal force will hurl you through the nearest window.

The gurgling in her stomach tightened. Then her eyes opened wide. A thunderbolt of agony ripped through her abdomen. She opened her mouth, but the scream wouldn't come-blind pain squeezed it shut. Marianne doubled over.

"Are you okay?"

Straw Hair's voice. She sounded very far away. The pain was horrible. The worst she had felt, well, since childbirth. Giving birth-God's little test. Oh, guess what-that little being you are supposed to love and care for more than yourself? When it first comes out, it is going to cause physical pain you can't begin to fathom.

Nice way to start a relationship, don't you think?

Wonder what Mustache would make of that.

Razor blades-that was what it felt like-clawed at her insides as if fighting to get out. All rational thought fled. The pain consumed her. She even forgot about what she'd done, the damage she had caused, not just now, today, but throughout her life. Her parents had withered and been aged by her teenage recklessness. Her first husband had been destroyed by her constant infidelity, her second husband by the way she treated him, and then there were her kid, the few people who'd befriended her for more than a few weeks, the men she'd used before they used her. . . .

The men. Maybe that was about payback too. Hurt them before they hurt you.

She was sure that she was going to vomit.

"Bathroom," she managed.

"I got you."

Straw Hair again.

Marianne felt herself falling off the stool. Strong hands slithered underneath her armpits and kept her upright. Someone-Straw Hair-guided her toward the back. She stumbled toward the bathroom. Her throat felt impossibly dry. The pain in her stomach made it impossible to stand upright.

The strong hands held on to her. Marianne kept her eyes on the floor. Dark. She could only see her own feet shuffling, barely lifting. She tried to look up, saw the bathroom door not far ahead, wondered if she'd ever get there. She did.

And kept on going.

Straw Hair still held her under the armpits. She steered Marianne past the bathroom door. Marianne tried to put on the brakes. Her brain wouldn't obey the command. She tried to call out, to tell her savior that they'd passed the door, but her mouth wouldn't work either.

"Out this way," the woman whispered. "It will be better."


She felt her body push against the metal rod of an emergency door. The door gave way. Back exit. Made sense, Marianne figured. Why mess up a bathroom? Better to do it in a back alley. And get some fresh air. Fresh air might help. Fresh air might make her feel better.

The door opened all the way, hitting the outside wall with a bang. Marianne stumbled out. The air did indeed feel good. Not great. The pain was still there. But the coolness on her face felt good.

That was when she saw the van.

The van was white with tinted windows. The back doors were open like a mouth waiting to swallow her whole. And standing there, right by those doors, now taking hold of Marianne and pushing her up inside the van, was the man with the bushy mustache.

Marianne tried to pull up, but it was no use.

Mustache tossed her in as if she were a sack of peat moss. She landed on the van's floor with a thud. He crawled in, closed the back doors, and stood over her. Marianne rolled to a fetal position. Her stomach still ached, but fear was taking over now.

The man peeled off his mustache and smiled at her. The van started moving. Straw Hair must be driving.

"Hi, Marianne," he said.

She couldn't move, couldn't breathe. He sat next to her, pulled his fist back, and punched her hard in the stomach.

If the pain had been bad before, it went to another dimension now.

"Where's the tape?" he asked.

And then he began to hurt her for real.

Chapter 2

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

There are times you run off a cliff. It is like one of those Looney Tunes cartoons where Wile E. Coyote sprints really hard and he’s still running even though he’s already gone off the cliff, and then he stops and looks down and knows he will plummet and that there is nothing he can do to stop it.

But sometimes, maybe most times, it isn’t that clear. It is dark and you are near the edge of the cliff but you’re moving slowly, not sure what direction you’re heading in. Your steps are tentative but they are still blind in the night. You don’t realize how close you are to the edge, how the soft earth could give way, how you could just slip a bit and suddenly plunge into the dark.

This is when Mike knew that he and Tia were on that edge—when this installer, this young yah-dude with the rat-nest hair and the muscleless, overtattooed arms and the dirty, long fingernails, looked back at them and asked that damn question in a voice too ominous for his years.

Are you sure you want to do this . . .?

None of them belonged in this room. Sure, Mike and Tia Baye (pronounced bye as in good-bye) were in their own home, a split-level-cum-McMansion in the suburb of Livingston, but this bedroom had become enemy territory to them, strictly forbidden. There were still, Mike noticed, a surprising amount of remnants from the past. The hockey trophies hadn’t been put away, but while they used to dominate the room, they now seemed to cower toward the back of the shelf. Posters of Jaromir

Jagr and his most recent favorite Ranger hero, Chris Drury, were still up, but they’d been faded by the sun or maybe lack of attention.

Mike drifted back. He remembered how his son, Adam, used to read Goosebumps and Mike Lupica’s book about kid athletes who overcame impossible odds. He used to study the sports page, especially the hockey stats, like a scholar with the Talmud. He wrote to his favorite players for autographs and hung them with Sticky Tack. When they’d go to Madison Square Garden, Adam would insist they wait by the players’ exit on Thirty-second Street near Eighth Avenue so that he could get pucks autographed.

All of that was gone, if not from this room, then from their son’s life.

Adam had outgrown those things. That was normal. He was no longer a child, barely an adolescent, really, moving too hard and too fast into adulthood. But his bedroom seemed reluctant to follow suit. Mike wondered if it was a bond to the past for his son, if Adam still found comfort in his childhood. Maybe a part of Adam still longed to return to those days when he wanted to be a physician, like his dear old dad, when Mike was his son’s hero.

But that was wishful thinking.

The Yah-Dude Installer—Mike couldn’t remember his name, Brett, something like that—repeated the question: “Are you sure?”

Tia had her arms crossed. Her face was stern—there was no give there. She looked older to Mike, though no less beautiful. There was no doubt in her voice, just a hint of exasperation.

“Yes, we’re sure.”

Mike said nothing.

Their son’s bedroom was fairly dark, just the old gooseneck desk lamp was on. Their voices were a whisper, even though there was no chance that they’d be seen or heard. Their eleven-year-old daughter, Jill, was in school. Adam, their sixteen-year-old, was on his school’s junior overnight trip. He hadn’t wanted to go, of course—such things were too “lame” for him now—but the school made it mandatory and even the “slackest” of his slacker friends would be there, so they could all bemoan the lameness in unison.

“You understand how this works, right?”

Tia nodded in perfect unison to Mike’s shaking his head.

“The software will record every keystroke your son makes,” Brett said. “At the end of the day, the information is packaged and a report will be e-mailed to you. It will show you everything—every Web site visited, every e-mail sent or received, every instant message. If Adam does a PowerPoint or creates a Word document, it will show you that too. Everything. You could watch him live time if you want. You just click this option over here.”

He pointed to a small icon with the words LIVE SPY! in a red burst. Mike’s eyes moved about the room. The hockey trophies mocked him. Mike was surprised that Adam had not put them away. Mike had played college hockey at Dartmouth. He had been drafted by the New York Rangers, played for their Hartford team for a year, even gotten to play in two NHL games. He had passed

on his love of hockey to Adam. Adam had started to skate when he was three. He became a goalie in junior hockey. The rusted goalpost was still outside on the driveway, the net torn from the weather. Mike had spent many a contented hour shooting pucks at his son. Adam had been terrific—a top college prospect for certain—and then six months ago, he quit.

Just like that. Adam laid down the stick and pads and mask and said he was done.

Was that where it began?

Was that the first sign of his decline, his withdrawal? Mike tried to rise above his son’s decision, tried not to be like so many pushy parents who seemed to equate athletic skill with life success, but the truth was, the quitting had hit Mike hard.

But it had hit Tia harder.

“We are losing him,” she said.

Mike wasn’t as sure. Adam had suffered an immense tragedy—the suicide of a friend—and sure, he was working out some adolescent angst. He was moody and quiet. He spent all his time in this room, mostly on this wretched computer, playing fantasy games or instant-messaging or who knew what. But wasn’t that true of most teenagers? He barely spoke to them, responding rarely, and when he did, with grunts. But again—was that so abnormal?

It was her idea, this surveillance. Tia was a criminal attorney with Burton and Crimstein in Manhattan. One of the cases she’d worked on had involved a money launderer named Pale Haley. Haley had been nailed by the FBI when they’d eavesdropped on his Internet correspondences.

Brett, the installer, was the tech guy at Tia’s law firm. Mike stared now at Brett’s dirty fingernails. The fingernails were touching Adam’s keyboard. That was what Mike kept thinking. This guy with these disgusting nails was in their son’s room and he was having his way with Adam’s most prized possession.

“Be done in a second,” Brett said.

Mike had visited the E-SpyRight Web site and seen the first inducement in big, bold letters:




and then, in even bigger and bolder letters, the argument that sold Tia:


The site listed testimonials:

“Your product saved my daughter from this parent’s worst nightmare—a sexual predator! Thanks, E-SpyRight!” Bob—Denver, CO

“I found out my most trusted employee was stealing from our offi ce. I couldn’t have done it without your software!” Kevin—Boston, MA

Mike had resisted.

“He’s our son,” Tia had said.

“I know that. Don’t you think I know that?”

“Aren’t you concerned?”

“Of course I’m concerned. But—”

“But what? We’re his parents.” And then, as though rereading the ad, she said, “We have the right to know.”

“We have the right to invade his privacy?”

“To protect him? Yes. He’s our son.”

Mike shook his head.

“We not only have the right,” Tia said, stepping closer to him. “We have the responsibility.”

“Did your parents know everything you did?”


“How about everything you thought? Every conversation with a friend?”


“That’s what we’re talking about here.”

 “Think about Spencer Hill’s parents,” she countered.

That stunned him into silence. They looked at each other.

She said, “If they could do it over again, if Betsy and Ron had Spencer back—”

“You can’t do that, Tia.”

“No, listen to me. If they had to do it over again, if Spencer was alive, don’t you think they’d wish they’d kept a closer eye on him?”

Spencer Hill, a classmate of Adam’s, had committed suicide four months ago. It had been devastating, of course, hitting Adam and his classmates hard. Mike reminded Tia of that fact.

“Don’t you think that explains Adam’s behavior?”

“Spencer’s suicide?”

“Of course.”

“To a point, yes. But you know he was already changing. That just sped things up.”

“So maybe if we give him more room . . .”

“No,” Tia said, her tone cutting off any debate. “That tragedy may make Adam’s behavior more understandable— but it doesn’t make it less dangerous. If anything, it’s just the opposite.”

Mike thought about that. “We should tell him,” he said.


“Tell Adam we’re monitoring his online behavior.”

She made a face. “What’s the point in that?”

“So he knows he’s being watched.”

 “This isn’t like putting a cop on your tail so you don’t speed.”

“It’s exactly like that.”

“He’ll just do whatever it is he’s doing at a friend’s house or use an Internet café or something.”

“So? You have to let him know. Adam puts his private thoughts on that computer.”

Tia took a step closer to him and put a hand on his chest. Even now, even after all these years, her touch still had an effect on him. “He’s in trouble, Mike,” she said. “Don’t you see that? Your son is in trouble. He might be drinking or doing drugs or who knows what. Stop burying your head in the sand.”

“I’m not burying my head anywhere.”

Her voice was almost a plea. “You want the easy way out. You’re hoping, what? That Adam will just outgrow this?”

“That’s not what I’m saying. But think about it. This is new technology. He puts his secret thoughts and emotions down there. Would you have wanted your parents to know all that about you?”

“It’s a different world now,” Tia said.

“You sure about that?”

“What’s the harm? We’re his parents. We want what’s best for him.”

Mike shook his head again. “You don’t want to know a person’s every thought,” he said. “Some things should remain private.”

She took her hand off him. “You mean, a secret?”


 “Are you saying that a person is entitled to their secrets?”

“Of course they are.”

She looked at him then, in a funny way, and he didn’t much like it.

“Do you have secrets?” she asked him.

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Do you have secrets from me?” Tia asked again.

“No. But I don’t want you to know my every thought either.”

“And I don’t want you to know mine.”

They both stopped, on that line, before she stepped back.

“But if it’s a choice of protecting my son or giving him his privacy,” Tia said, “I’m going to protect him.”

The discussion—Mike didn’t want to classify it as an argument—lasted for a month. Mike tried to coax his son back to them. He invited Adam to the mall, the arcade, concerts even. Adam refused. He stayed out of the house until all hours, curfews be damned. He stopped coming down to eat dinner. His grades slipped. They managed to get him to visit a therapist once. The therapist thought that there might be depression issues. He suggested perhaps medication, but he wanted to see Adam again first.

Adam pointedly refused.

When they insisted that he go back to the therapist, Adam ran away for two days. He wouldn’t answer his mobile phone. Mike and Tia were frantic. It ended up that he’d just been hiding at a friend’s house.

“We’re losing him,” Tia had argued again.

And Mike said nothing.

 “In the end, we’re just their caretakers, Mike. We get them for a little while and then they live their lives. I just want him to stay alive and healthy until we let him go. The rest will be up to him.”

Mike nodded. “Okay, then.”

“You sure?” she said.


“Neither am I. But I keep thinking about Spencer Hill.”

He nodded again.


He looked at her. She gave him the crooked smile— the one he’d first seen on a cold autumn day at Dartmouth. That smile had corkscrewed into his heart and stayed there.

“I love you,” she said.

“I love you too.”

And with that, they agreed to spy on their older child.

Meet the Author

Harlan Coben is the bestselling author of eighteen novels, including The Woods, Promise Me, and The Innocent, and is the winner of the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony awards. He lives in New Jersey with his family.

Brief Biography

Ridgewood, New Jersey
Date of Birth:
January 4, 1962
Place of Birth:
Newark, New Jersey
B.A. in political science, Amherst College, 1984

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Hold Tight 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 189 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read so many of Harlan Coben's books and I've never been disappointed! Once you get involved in the suspense and the action, it's really hard to put his books down and this book is no exception. When children are in danger, despite their ages, I'm always reading in high gear. You want to somehow help, so you're riveted. The characters are real and you buy in at the very beginning! Mr Coben has given us another page turner and the pages just don't turn fast enough!
emmi331 More than 1 year ago
You have to give Harlan Coben props - he knows how to keep the reader spellbound. There's lots going on in this high-intensity tale of suspense about a simple plea for help gone bad. Very bad. It's hard to figure out how two women beaten to death, a dedicated but frazzled teacher who loses his classroom cool one day, and a father's search for his missing son tie together, but in the end they do. In the meantime, the reader is taken on a great thrill ride with plenty of twists and turns.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Glen Rock, New Jersey, the recent suicide of teenager Spencer Hill has sent shockwaves throughout the community as parents wonder could their offspring follow suit and teens ponder what they could have done differently to prevent the tragedy. Since Spencer killed himself, his classmate, sixteen years old Adam Bave has been acting strange as he shows no enthusiasm for anything at all. His aloofness would have been ignored as a teen thing by his parents, Tia and Mike, but with the Spencer death they fear their child could be depressed and perhaps be the next suicide. Panic stricken as they debate security vs. privacy, the Bave pair place spy ware on their son¿s hard drive.--------------- A few days after their intrusion, Tia and Mike begin feeling a bit better and silly as nothing out of ordinary has happened until a message from an unknown source menacingly states: 'Just stay quiet and all safe'. At the same time a grieving Betsy Hill, Spencer¿s mom keeps asking her self how she failed to see the signs as she goes through an on-line memorial until one photograph stuns her on the night her beloved son killed himself, neighbor Adam Bave or someone who looks similar is standing nearby her son. ----------------- Harlan Coben is at his best with this intimidating one sitting thriller that has the audience pondering on different levels security vs. privacy. Adding to the overall discomfit levels caused by this deep chiller is the knowledge the setting can be just about anywhere in the States as Glen Rock happens to be a suburb of New York City. However what makes HOLD TIGHT a strong suspense is not the menace though this culprit is frighteningly deadly and dangerous it is the Bave parents¿ dealing with the choice of to intrude or not to intrude that on a family level parallels the 9/11 to eavesdrop or not to eavesdrop. Readers will believe they could be the Bave or Hill family as Mr. Coben writes a thought-provoking timely profound thriller.----------------- Harriet Klausner
Blitsky More than 1 year ago
I am a Harlan Coben fan to begin with but this book took a new direction. Any parent of a teenager will carry the lessons in this book with you. It plants ideas that will continue to make you think long after you have finished the book. It was good read, easy to follow and it grabs you and holds you throughout. I would recommend it.
Sherri_Hunter More than 1 year ago
Through no fault of his own, Harlan Coben is an author I overlook often. That's really unfortunate and sad because he is a wonderful story-teller. His ability to create characters that a reader can connect to and really care about is exemplary. In addition, placing these unique and interesting characters into stories that weave in and out of the nooks and crannies of his mind to end up in a book that keeps the reader glued to their seat from start to finish takes extraordinary skill. I found myself so intensely focused on this story, anxiety building wondering what would happen next. The sad fact that I haven't read many of Mr. Coben's books is completely my fault. As I stated above, I overlook this author often. It's likely down to laziness on my part. I don't take the time to take a good look at what is being offered when I am in the mood for a thriller / suspense story. Fortunately, it's never too late to teach a reader new reading habits. I loved the way this author takes multiple story lines and knits them together into one book and so they are all connected. The best part is how realistic the story is. It's as if the kinds of events described in this book are taken from current day media headlines. Murder, suicide, bullying, parental spying, disobedient children, psychosis and even revenge. Whatever your reading preferences are leaning toward, this book can deliver on many levels. Don't make the same mistake I did. If you have not considered Harlan Coben when you are looking for something in the thriller / suspense genre, it's not too late to rectify that. You will be glad you did.
jocro More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite Coben's works. I just read it for the second time and enjoyed it as much as the first. He is without peer.
NurseKelley More than 1 year ago
This is my third or fourth Harlan Coben and I'm getting hooked. I really enjoyed that this book had several independent stories going on at one time and all weren't intertwined until the end. Kept you guessing. I'm not going to give too much detail on the story line as it was somewhat complicated. Basically, the main plot centered around two (slightly overprotective)parents searching for their missing teenage boy who could be in danger, only to find that he and his friends may be involved in a complex drug ring. Secondly, a connection is made between the murder of two very different women, a divorced, lousy mother and a typical suburban supermom/wife. Third, there is a couple who are seeking a kidney for their ill child. Finally, there is a father trying to help his young teenage girl get over some torment at the hands of her schoolmates due to a careless remark from a teacher. Want to know how these stories are related? Read the book! If you love suspense, you will love this one. I would recommend reading "The Woods" first, as some of the characters from that book reappear here.
Lisa_in_SoCal More than 1 year ago
An entertaining Coben. For once, a psycho torturer who doesn't have a major role and isn't that scary! Not my favorite Coben, but definitely entertaining for many hours in the car. A modern plot and overly mature teenagers made the story seem very plausible. A few plot lines quickly pulled together in the end made the ending seem a bit too convenient.
Guest More than 1 year ago
if you are looking for a book to read on the train to work, or at night before bed to unwind, you will be late. once you start it is hard to stop. this is my first and now im looking for more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading this book I put it down because I couldn't get into it. A week later I opened it again and finished it in two days. It was a page turner and I was anxious to see how it ended. I'll have recommeded it to my book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a great fan of this author, i found this book to be very boring, wordy and didnt finish it Very disappointing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lamar Dawson-Stewart More than 1 year ago
Another excellent Coben book. There are moments of real truth in this book, which is always the mark of a good author. Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PLEASE STOP HARRIET KLAUSNER'S "REVIEWS"!!! This woman reveals the entire plot in every review she writes and unfortunately we like the same writers. I am so tired of reading reviews to decide to purchase an e-book and coming across her plot spoilers! What is the point of giving us the choice of flagging reviews if nothing is done about it? I have seen many other complaints about this same person - PLEASE MAKE HER STOP!!!
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