Book Review – Shelter

  • Author: Harlan Coben
  • Title: Shelter, part one of the Mickey Bolitar series for young adults


After losing his father in a car accident and his addict mother to rehab, fifteen-year old Mickey Bolitar arrives at a new high school. Within weeks Mickey’s new girl interest, Ashley, disappears. While he befriends a couple high school loners, he’s spurned on by the mysterious Bat Lady to continue hunting for Ashley. Not only that. Bat Lady insists that Mickey’s father isn’t really dead.

As the plot unravels we learn that Ashley is not the daughter of the Kents, a local family. She is a strip dancer in a seedy club. And with the help of his misfit friends Mickey manages to rescue her from the clutches of an underworld thug.

In the end Ashley gets away and we learn that Bat Lady is really a Holocaust survivor. But more astonishing, she has a photo of the SS butcher who killed her family. And to top it off, Mickey remembers the same man taking his father during the car accident. At the very spry old age of 90 years plus… What?



27 chapters, first-person point of view Mickey


Well-paced, with a sense of humor


Questionable at times and downright unbelievable at the end. The Holocaust subplot was hard enough to swallow, but pretending that an SS officer who had to have been at least 22-25 years old in 1945 would have shown up to kidnap Mickey’s father in present day is ridiculous. The ending spoiled the entire story.


Sometimes self-deprecating humor, at times unbelievable considering the seriousness of the situations.


Though the narrative is well-paced and keeps a mysterious bend throughout, the ending destroys the story. While intended as a cliffhanger to buy the next book, the ending is lame and unbelievable. As fantasy and science fiction novels prove, fiction doesn’t have to be based on historical truth, but the plot does have to be credible within the setting. The lack of it will keep me from reading more.

The opinions stated above are my own.