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Gone for Good

Gone for Good

4.4 211
by Harlan Coben

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As a boy, Will Klein had a hero: his older brother, Ken. Then, on a warm suburban night in the Kleins’ affluent New Jersey neighborhood, a young woman—a girl Will had once loved—was found brutally murdered in her family’s basement. The prime suspect: Ken Klein. With the evidence against him overwhelming, Ken simply vanished. And when his


As a boy, Will Klein had a hero: his older brother, Ken. Then, on a warm suburban night in the Kleins’ affluent New Jersey neighborhood, a young woman—a girl Will had once loved—was found brutally murdered in her family’s basement. The prime suspect: Ken Klein. With the evidence against him overwhelming, Ken simply vanished. And when his shattered family never heard from Ken again, they were sure he was gone for good.

Now eleven years have passed. Will has found proof that Ken is alive. And this is just the first in a series of stunning revelations as Will is forced to confront startling truths about his brother—and himself. As a violent mystery unwinds around him, Will knows that he must press his search all the way to the end. Because the most powerful surprises are yet to come.

Editorial Reviews

Will Klein suffers a double loss. First, his ex-girlfriend Julie Miller is viciously raped and murdered; then Will's older brother Ken becomes the chief suspect and disappears. Eleven years pass. Then a few words spoken from his mother's deathbed force Will to realize that the past has come back to haunt him.
Publishers Weekly
"We never forget our first love. Mine ended up being murdered." Newcomers and fans alike will know they're deep in Coben country with the author's ninth book, in which a counselor of runaways with his own history of broken hearts and death finds himself caught in a web of lost identities, forgotten nemeses and smoldering grudges. Will Klein was a nice Jewish boy from a nice Jersey suburb until his ex-girlfriend was found strangled next door and his brother became an international fugitive. Eleven years later, as his mother succumbs to cancer, Will gets the deathbed confession that his brother, Ken, is alive; around the same time, his girlfriend, Sheila (herself a runaway with a "murky past"), disappears and a neighborhood psycho called the Ghost resurfaces. Will is yanked into an FBI investigation via his friend Squares (a yogi whose forehead tattoo carries multiple meanings), which jumbles up the aforementioned cast of characters with another mystery occurring in the Midwest. True to form, Coben keeps the plot twists coming fast and furious, and readers will give up trying to guess the outcome quite early on; yet the book's entertainment value lies less in its plot than its characters. From the New York streetwalker Raquel ("Many transvestites are beautiful. Raquel was not. He was black, six-six, and comfortably on the north side of three hundred pounds") to Belmont, Neb.'s Sheriff Bertha Farrow ("Murder scenes were bad, but for overall vomit-inducing, bone-crunching, head-splitting, blood-splattering grossness, it was hard to beat the metal-against-flesh effect of an old-fashioned automobile accident"), this title delivers. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Forbes Magazine
Whew! No need to go to an amusement park for a thrilling roller-coaster ride. This book will do it for you without jeopardizing life, limb or stomach. Despite numerous twists and turns, plots and subplots, Gone For Good is a rip-roaring, riveting read. Other novelists could learn from this master how to keep a complicated narrative moving briskly and etch and sketch memorably colorful characters. (12 Aug 2002)
—Steve Forbes
Library Journal
Coben has written another winner, guaranteed to keep readers awake all night. On the day of his mother's funeral, Will Klein discovers a photograph proving that his brother, Ken, is alive. Eleven years earlier, a young woman who was dating Ken was found strangled, and Ken's blood was found at the murder scene. Will never heard from Ken after that night, and his family and the police assumed that he was dead. While Will is contemplating this stunning revelation, his girlfriend, Sheila, vanishes under mysterious circumstances. Will's efforts to solve the disappearances of Sheila and Ken open a terrifying Pandora's box. Complex and unpredictable, this is even better than Coben's last novel, Tell No One. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/02.] Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A betwixt-and-between thriller from the talented chronicler of sports agent Myron Bolitar (Darkest Fear, 2000, etc.). Eleven years after his brother Ken vanished after being accused of raping and strangling neighborhood girl Julie Miller, Will Klein's dying mother tells him that Ken's still alive. Then, several hours after her funeral, Will suffers an even more devastating loss when his lover Sheila Rogers, a volunteer at Covenant House, the New York shelter for street kids Will runs, disappears as well. And there's even worse news: Joseph Pistillo, the FBI's top man in New York, is not only still looking for Ken, whom he turns out to have a damningly personal reason for wanting to find; he suspects Sheila, who never told Will anything about her turbulent past except that she'd run away from home, was up to no good as well. With the help of Julie's kid sister Katy and his omnicompetent sidekick Squares, an ex-Nazi turned franchise fitness guru, Will goes in search of the truth about Ken and Sheila, ignoring Pistillo's threats of legal action and the even more dire threats of Ken's murderously well-connected school buddies John Asselta, the Ghost (ex-wrestler), and Philip McGuane (ex-student council president) in an attempt to stand on his own two feet after years of hiding behind his big brother's strength. Will's newfound courage comes too late to help Sheila, who's already been killed and dumped at the side of a Nebraska road. But will it save Ken, or Katy, or Will himself? Coben dispenses crucial plot twists with an eyedropper, expertly wringing the maximum suspense out of each jaw-dropping surprise. After a while, though, the high-energy revelations begin to sprawl, and thissynthetic, highly enjoyable tale ends up stuck between grim realism and the sort of wish-fulfillment fantasy in which nobody, not even the dead, is ever gone for good.
From the Publisher
“Riveting . . . has more twists and turns than an amusement park ride.”—USA Today

“Coben stands on the accelerator and never lets up. . . . The action is seamless, clear, and riveting.”—People (Page-turner of the Week)

“A thrilling odyssey with masterful twists and turns.”—New York Daily News
“Taut . . . compelling . . . a can’t-put-it-down beach book.”—San Francisco Chronicle

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Random House Publishing Group
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Chapter One

Three days before her death, my mother told me–these weren't her last words, but they were pretty close–that my brother was still alive.

That was all she said. She didn't elaborate. She said it only once. And she wasn't doing very well. Morphine had already applied its endgame heart squeeze. Her skin was in that cusp between jaundice and fading summer tan. Her eyes had sunken deep into her skull. She slept most of the time. She would, in fact, have only one more lucid moment–if indeed this had been a lucid moment, which I very much doubted–and that would be a chance for me to tell her that she had been a wonderful mother, that I loved her very much, and good-bye. We never said anything about my brother. That didn't mean we weren't thinking about him as though he were sitting bedside too.

"He's alive."

Those were her exact words. And if they were true, I didn't know if it would be a good thing or bad.

We buried my mother four days later.

When we returned to the house to sit shivah, my father stormed through the semi-shag in the living room. His face was red with rage. I was there, of course. My sister, Melisa, had flown in from Seattle with her husband, Ralph. Aunt Selma and Uncle Murray paced. Sheila, my soul mate, sat next to me and held my hand.

That was pretty much the sum total.

There was only one flower arrangement, a wonderful monster of a thing. Sheila smiled and squeezed my hand when she saw the card. No words, no message, just the drawing on it.

Dad kept glancing out the bay windows–the same windows that had been shot out with a BB gun twice in the past eleven years–and muttered under his breath, "Sons of bitches." He'd turn around and think of someone else who hadn't shown. "For God's sake, you'd think the Bergmans would have at least made a goddamn appearance." Then he'd close his eyes and look away. The anger would consume him anew, blending with the grief into something I didn't have the strength to face.

One more betrayal in a decade filled with them.

I needed air.

I got to my feet. Sheila looked up at me with concern. "I'm going to take a walk," I said softly.

"You want company?"

"I don't think so."

Sheila nodded. We had been together nearly a year. I've never had a partner so in sync with my rather odd vibes. She gave my hand another I-love-you squeeze, and the warmth spread through me.

Our front-door welcome mat was harsh faux grass, like something stolen from a driving range, with a plastic daisy in the upper left-hand cover. I stepped over it and strolled up Downing Place. The street was lined with numbingly ordinary aluminum-sided split-levels, circa 1962. I still wore my dark gray suit. It itched in the heat. The savage sun beat down like a drum, and a perverse part of me thought that it was a wonderful day to decay. An image of my mother's light-the-world smile–the one before it all happened–flashed in front of my eyes. I shoved it away.

I knew where I was headed, though I doubt if I would have admitted it to myself. I was drawn there, pulled by some unseen force. Some would call it masochistic. Others would note that maybe it had something to do with closure. I thought it was probably neither.

I just wanted to look at the spot where it all ended.

The sights and sounds of summer suburbia assaulted me. Kids squealed by on their bicycles. Mr. Cirino, who owned the Ford/

Mercury dealership on Route 10, mowed his lawn. The Steins–they'd built up a chain of appliance stores that were swallowed up by a bigger chain–were taking a stroll hand in hand. There was a touch football game going on at the Levines' house, though I didn't know any of the participants. Barbecue smoke took flight from the Kaufmans' backyard.

I passed by the Glassmans' old place. Mark "the Doof" Glassman had jumped through the sliding glass doors when he was six. He was playing Superman. I remembered the scream and the blood. He needed over forty stitches. The Doof grew up and became some kind of IPO-start-up zillionaire. I don't think they call him the Doof anymore, but you never know.

The Marianos' house, still that horrid shade of phlegm yellow with a plastic deer guarding the front walk, was on the bend. Angela Mariano, our local bad girl, was two years older than us and like some superior, awe-inducing species. Watching Angela sunning in her backyard in a gravity-defying ribbed halter top, I had felt the first painful thrusts of deep hormonal longing. My mouth would actually water. Angela used to fight with her parents and sneak smokes in the toolshed behind her house. Her boyfriend drove a motorcycle. I ran into her last year on Madison Avenue in midtown. I expected her to look awful–that was what you always hear happens to that first lust-crush–but Angela looked great and seemed happy.

A lawn sprinkler did the slow wave in front of Eric Frankel's house at 23 Downing Place. Eric had a space-travel-themed bar mitzvah at the Chanticleer in Short Hills when we were both in seventh grade. The ceiling was done up planetarium style–a black sky with star constellations. My seating card told me that I was sitting at "Table Apollo 14." The centerpiece was an ornate model rocket on a green fauna launching pad. The waiters adorned in realistic space suits, were each supposed to be one of the Mercury 7. "John Glenn" served us. Cindi Shapiro and I had sneaked into the chapel room and made out for over an hour. It was my first time. I didn't know what I was doing. Cindi did. I remember it was glorious, the way her tongue caressed and jolted me in unexpected ways. But I also remember my initial wonderment evolving after twenty minutes or so into, well, boredom–a confused "what next?" along with a naive "is that all there is?"

When Cindi and I stealthily returned to Cape Kennedy's Table Apollo 14, ruffled and in fine post-smooch form (the Herbie Zane Band serenading the crowd with "Fly Me to the Moon"), my brother, Ken, pulled me to the side and demanded details. I, of course, too gladly gave them. He awarded me with that smile and slapped me five. That night, as we lay on the bunk beds, Ken on the top, me on the bottom, the stereo playing Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" (Ken's favorite), my older brother explained to me the facts of life as seen by a ninth-grader. I'd later learn he was mostly wrong (a little too much emphasis on the breast), but when I think back to that night, I always smile.

"He's alive . . ."

I shook my head and turned right at Coddington Terrace by the Holders' old house. This was the same route Ken and I had taken to get to Burnet Hill Elementary School. There used to be a paved path between two houses to make the trip shorter. I wondered if it was still there. My mother–everyone, even kids, had called her Sunny–used to follow us to school quasi-surreptitiously. Ken and I would roll our eyes as she ducked behind trees. I smiled, thinking about her overprotectiveness now. It used to embarrass me, but Ken would simply shrug. My brother was securely cool enough to let it slide. I wasn't.

I felt a pang and moved on.

Maybe it was just my imagination, but people began to stare. The bicycles, the dribbling basketballs, the sprinklers and lawn mowers, the cries of touch footballers–they all seemed to hush as I passed. Some stared out of curiosity because a strange man strolling in a dark gray suit on a summer evening was something of an oddity. But most, or again so it seemed, looked on in horror because they recognized me and couldn't believe that I would dare tread upon this sacred soil.

I approached the house at 47 Coddington Terrace without hesitation. My tie was loosened. I jammed my hands in my pockets. I toed the spot where curb met pavement. Why was I here? I saw a curtain move in the den. Mrs. Miller's face appeared at the window, gaunt and ghostlike. She glared at me. I didn't move or look away. She glared some more–and then to my surprise, her face softened. It was as though our mutual agony had made some sort of connection. Mrs. Miller nodded at me. I nodded back and felt the tears begin to well up.

You may have seen the story on 20/20 or PrimeTime Live or some other television equivalent of fish wrap. For those who haven't, here's the official account: On October 17 eleven years ago, in the township of Livingston, New Jersey, my brother, Ken Klein, then twenty-four, brutally raped and strangled our neighbor Julie Miller.

In her basement. At 47 Coddington Terrace.

That was where her body was found. The evidence wasn't conclusive as to if she'd actually been murdered in that poorly finished subdwelling or if she'd been dumped postmortem behind the water-stained zebra-striped couch. Most assume the former. My brother escaped capture and ran off to parts unknown–at least, again, according to the official account.

Over the past eleven years, Ken has eluded an international dragnet. There have however been "sightings."

The first came about a year after the murder from a small fishing village in northern Sweden. Interpol swooped in, but somehow my brother evaded their grasp. Supposedly he was tipped off. I can't imagine how or by whom.

The next sighting occurred four years later in Barcelona. Ken had rented–to quote the newspaper accounts–"an oceanview hacienda" (Barcelona is not on an ocean) with–again I will quote–"a lithe, dark-haired woman, perhaps a flamenco dancer." A vacationing Livingston resident reported no less than seeing Ken and his Castilian paramour dining beachside. My brother was described as tan and fit and wore a white shirt opened at the collar and loafers without socks. The Livingstonite, one Rick Horowitz, had been a classmate of mine in Mr. Hunt's fourth-grade class. During a three-month period, Rick entertained us by eating caterpillars during recess.

Barcelona Ken yet again slipped through the law's fingers.

The last time my brother was purportedly spotted he was skiing down the expert hills in the French Alps (interestingly enough, Ken never skied before the murder). Nothing came of it, except a story on 48 Hours. Over the years, my brother's fugitive status had become the criminal version of a VH1 Where Are They Now, popping up whenever any sort of rumor skimmed the surface or, more likely, when one of the network's fish wraps was low on material.

I naturally hated television's "team coverage" of "suburbia gone wrong" or whatever similar cute moniker they came up with. Their "special reports" (just once, I'd like to see them call it a "normal report, everyone has done this story") always featured the same photographs of Ken in his tennis whites–he was a nationally ranked player at one time–looking his most pompous. I can't imagine where they got them. In them Ken looked handsome in that way people hate right away. Haughty, Kennedy hair, suntan bold against the whites, toothy grin, Photograph Ken looked like one of those people of privilege (he was not) who coasted through life on his charm (a little) and trust account (he had none).

I had appeared on one of those magazine shows. A producer reached me–this was pretty early on in the coverage–and claimed that he wanted to present "both sides fairly." They had plenty of people ready to lynch my brother, he noted. What they truly needed for the sake of "balance" was someone who could describe the "real Ken" to the folks back home.

I fell for it.

A frosted-blond anchorwoman with a sympathetic manner interviewed me for over an hour. I enjoyed the process actually. It was therapeutic. She thanked me and ushered me out and when the episode aired, they used only one snippet, removing her question ("But surely, you're not going to tell us that your brother was perfect, are you? You're not trying to tell us he was a saint, right?") and editing my line so that I appeared in nose-pore-enhancing extreme close-up with dramatic music as my cue, saying, "Ken was no saint, Diane."

Anyway, that was the official account of what happened.

I've never believed it. I'm not saying it's not possible. But I believe a much more likely scenario is that my brother is dead–that he has been dead for the past eleven years.

More to the point, my mother always believed that Ken was dead. She believed it firmly. Without reservation. Her son was not a murderer. Her son was a victim.

"He's alive. . . . He didn't do it."

The front door of the Miller house opened. Mr. Miller stepped through it. He pushed his glasses up his nose. His fists rested on his hips in a pitiful Superman stance.

"Get the hell out of here, Will," Mr. Miller said to me.

And I did.

The next big shock occurred an hour later.

Sheila and I were up in my parents' bedroom. The same furniture, a sturdy, faded swirling gray with blue trim, had adorned this room for as long as I could remember. We sat on the king-size bed with the weak-springed mattress. My mother's most personal items–the stuff she kept in her bloated nightstand drawers–were scattered over the duvet. My father was still downstairs by the bay windows, staring out defiantly.

I don't know why I wanted to sift through the things my mother found valuable enough to preserve and keep near her. It would hurt. I knew that. There is an interesting correlation between intentional pain infliction and comfort, a sort of playing-with-fire approach to grieving. I needed to do that, I guess.

I looked at Sheila's lovely face–tilted to the left, eyes down and focused–and I felt my heart soar. This is going to sound a little weird, but I could stare at Sheila for hours. It was not just her beauty–hers was not one would call classical anyway, her features a bit off center from either genetics or, more likely, her murky past–but there was an animation there, an inquisitiveness, a delicacy too, as if one more blow would shatter her irreparably. Sheila made me want to–bear with me here–be brave for her.

Without looking up, Sheila gave a half-smile and said, "Cut it out."

"I'm not doing anything."

From the Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Harlan Coben is the winner of the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony awards. His critically acclaimed novels have been published in forty-one languages around the world and have been number one bestsellers in more than half a dozen countries. In addition to the Myron Bolitar series (Deal Breaker, Drop Shot, Fade Away, Back Spin, One False Move, The Final Detail, Darkest Fear, Promise Me, Long Lost, andLive Wire), Coben is also the author of the young adult Mickey Bolitar series including Shelter and Seconds Away, and of Miracle Cure, Play Dead, Tell No One, Gone for Good, No Second Chance, Just One Look, The Innocent, The Woods, Hold TightCaught, and Stay Close.

From the Paperback edition.

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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Gone for Good 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 211 reviews.
MauiLover3 More than 1 year ago
This was my second Harlan Coben book and I am now officially hooked!!! What a page-turner!!! Great character development too! ("The Ghost" could not be any more intriguing!)Stayed awake until the wee hours reading this one:)
Janus More than 1 year ago
This was my first Harlan Coben book, and I have to say I'm impressed. Is this the kind of book you will be thinking about for days after you finish it? No. But it sure is a heck of a fun read. Coben is excellent at keeping the action going while still holding back enough to give the reader a real sense of suspense. My only complaint really is what an irritating wuss the main character could be at times, but it didn't really hinder my enjoyment of the book as a whole. One thing is for sure, there were certainly more twists in this book than a slinky. If you are looking for an easy, enjoyable "average joe" mystery, then Gone For Good is not a bad choice.
Gramples More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books ever! Absolutely could not put it down. Loved the twists and turns. Coben definitely knows how to hold the readers attention!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read in a very long time!
bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
Audio/Abridged: This was a great read if you don't take the story to seriously. Yeah, there are way to many red herrings, plot twists and coincidences, but that is what makes it fun. You need to suspect everyone in Coben's books. The good guys are honorable and the bad guys are over-the-top evil. The ending was a little crazy and I didn't/couldn't remember what the security guard's murder had to do with anything by the end of this roller coaster ride. Very enjoyable; the character Squares is the best part and even steals scenes when the narrator is describing him. The narrator is nothing like Coben's Bolitar; he is more like one of us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended by a salespearson. I thank her immensely. This is one of the better books in this genre I have read. It's so much more refreshing to read about a regular guy ending up the hero than some detective with a porn-star name. If you enjoy the thriller genre and you're tired of reading about detective Rod Steele and his uncanny ability to find the killer, this is a great book. The plot twists take you right to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My second book from this author and even better than the first (Tell no one). This was a page-turner like no other. There are a lot of characters, appearing in the story slowly to make a complex web of intertwined stories and leads. But just when you think you know what is going on, something happens and you are back to square one. Great plot, great writing, and great character develooment. You cannot ask for more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
as always another great read by Harlan Coben. One of my favorite authors!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Full of unexpected twists and turns taht you never see coming!
Jenn Schestopol More than 1 year ago
I have read so many suspense novels that i can usually nail the ending by chapter 3- this was great! Many twists and turns! Highly recommended, had me guessing and gasping out loud!
Denise101 More than 1 year ago
Gone for Good is definately a very good book to read. It kept you wondering until the very last page was read. If you like to read mystery/suspense then this book is definately for you. Another author I highly recommend is Linwood Barclay his writing style is similar to Harlan Coben.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book made me cry at the end. It is such a beautiful story and i recommed it to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very hard to put down, but the author seemed to lose his way toward the end. Much as one may like a happy ending, psychopathic killers just don't turn into nice guys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. The ending was the biggest twist i think i have ever read. The protagonist is a somewhat unlikeable character somewhat whiney and stuck in the past to the crime his brother was convicted for. Will lived in kens shadow and still did after the crime. He doesnt ever really get his footing alwas was jus a follower until his world is turmed upside down at a funeral. This book is impossible tonput down. This was my econd harlan coben niovel and i will for sure be purchasing another. Highly recommend!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A few too many twists. Too many characters. But, a pretty good mytery anyway.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
New to this author but will be reading alk of his books. You will never guess the end of this book. I could not put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Harlan Corbin has outdone himself with this one. The ending was a complete surprise. A very well-crafted tale that had me sitting up reading until I finished the book.
L_L53 More than 1 year ago
I like Harlan's writing, however this one started off slow for me. Plus the fact that my Mom had just died also before I started reading this book, which made it painful to read and I had to put it down a few times. Turns out that the story is quite good and has lots of twists and turns and leaves you guessing. Sometimes there are a lot of details and many people are mentioned, but things ties together nicely. I would recommend this book.
LisaALA More than 1 year ago
As others have said, this was my first Coben book. Bought it yesterday on my day off and just finished it this morning. Never have I read a book that kept reading where I just couldn't stop. Excellent book with so many twists and turns. Now I have to get another of his.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read plenty of books..None had me as hooked as this..When you start, please have nothing to do until your done.. LOVED IT