Use of Snide Comments

In this essay, C.Z. analyzes how Harlan Coben uses snide comments and sarcasm to both further develop his characters, in revealing what affects them the most, and provide comic relief throughout the novel The Woods.

As suggested by the name of the genre, murder mysteries aren’t necessarily on the light side of reading material. The Woods encompasses topics such as death, obviously in the form of murder, but also in the pasts of the characters, betrayal, and rape. Coben’s books are not necessarily written to shed light on lesser known causes or tell a real life story; they are for entertainment. It is doubtful that his books would be as entertaining if they were a constant downer, one saddening event after another without break. This is why Coben uses snide comments and sarcasm to lighten the mood every now and then throughout The Woods.

This is seen when Paul Copeland insults Chamique’s attorney. “‘The sum has now reached a level where your attorney here, Mr. Who-Needs-A-Shower-When-There’s-Cologne, thinks it makes sense to do it . . . Shh,’ I said. Then I cupped my ear with my hand. ‘Listen to the crinkling sound.’ ‘To what?’ ‘I think your cologne is peeling my wallpaper. If you listen closely, you can hear it. Shh, listen’” (Coben 150-151).

Copeland makes this remark after having been at the trial of Chamique’s rape case. This was obviously one of the more dismal of the passages in the book both from the recounting of the rape and the supposed outlook that Chamique’s rapists would not be convicted. After this section in the novel Coben uses Copeland’s snippy attitude to provide comic relief. Coben does this so seamlessly that it isn’t realized that the tables have been turned from depressing to laughing out loud. Coben accomplishes this because his comic relief isn’t necessarily through funny events that happen in the novel, but rather the push and pull between the characters, their words rather than actions.

The banter between Copeland and his coworker, Muse, also helps relieve tension. “’Ground control to Major Cope’ She hadn’t said the words—she sang them, using the old David Bowie tune. ‘You sing like you pick out shoes’” (177).

Not only is Coben using the above quote to release some of the pressure that was presented from Lucy’s call, but he also uses the snide comments of the characters to reveal what they care most about. As seen clearly from the type of remarks made throughout the novel, some of the characters are not the most touchy-feely, or willing to just blurt out their feelings. Instead, Coben shows how his characters feel by what they don’t say, by what they avoid answering. In the above quote Copeland was avoiding answering Muse’s teasing question on whether or not Lucy is “‘an old lover?’” (177). It would be quite out of character for Copeland to profess his love, previous or current, for Lucy, so to show his feelings Coben has Copeland avoid the question. This directly targets the unanswered question and shows that it is still a touchy subject.

This is very clear when Copeland almost directly thinks that his is going to evade the question he does not want to answer: “I had an idea where this was going. I took a delicate bite of my chicken-salad sandwich. ‘Dry,’ I said. ‘What?’ ‘The chicken salad. It’s dry’” (173).

The same pattern can be seen in other characters, such as Lucy. She often avoids her TA’s questions with sarcastic answers, both because she doesn’t want to talk about her past at the camp where the murders took place, but also because she should not talk about events that would connect her to her former identity.

Harlan Coben uses sarcasm and snide comments to provide comic relief following particularly saddening events in the novel as well as to show the characters’ emotions towards touchy subjects. Coben does this by blending the characters’ avoidance tactics with snide comments in just the right spots to provide comedy and insight.

C.Z. 2011

The Proper Implementation of Plot Twists

In the following commentary, C.Z. analyzes how Harlan Coben properly uses plot twists to captivate readers in the novel Caught.

As expected, the ending of a murder mystery is not known at the beginning of the novel. The name “mystery” implies that throughout the novel there will be clues to the answer. A staple to the murder mystery is the plot twist. The “gotcha!” ending that provides shock factor, that no one saw coming. The trick, though, is getting the twist to work perfectly into the plot of the novel. It needs to be something startling, but not something that doesn’t have evidence or just seems unlikely.

This is a skill that Coben has mastered and exemplifies for the duration of Caught. Coben uses both large and small plot twists, during the entirety of the novel from start to finish, until the very last, shocker. Coben peppers the story with little twists in which you never would have thought the convicted did that too, or a new piece of evidence appears in a place that was never expected.

“Stanton held the phone in his hand. All color was gone from his face. He stared down at the image on the screen. Walker could see the phone with the bright pink case” (Coben 114).

Coben introduces the iPhone of a disappeared girl in the unlikeliest of places. It was never seen dropping in shock of the event that has just unfolded that quickly progresses into a slapping of the forehead, accompanied by muttering of “should have seen the clues”. Coben seemingly effortlessly weaves in the clues to his plot twist so casually that they’re never picked up on until after the fact. He has the evidence to support the new occurrence but it is only evident in hindsight.

As with the iPhone, it seems obvious after the fact that the two cases involving Dan Mercer and Haley McWaid are connected—why else would both exist if not to be intertwined—but Coben introduces one case and then switches gears for a good fifty pages or so until you’re so caught up in the new case that the other one is completely forgotten until the twist reveals the link.

Even the plot twists involving one case are so well hidden until the time they occur. As with Grayson’s shooting of Mercer, it was completely unexpected, so bizarre it never once came up as a possible I-bet-this-will-happen. As soon as Grayson shoots Mercer, however, the evidence that it was coming pops into mind—So that’s what Grayson was trying to get out of Hickory, the location of Mercer. And that’s why he had to fiddle with Tynes’ car, so he could plant a tracking device. And obviously Grayson would want to kill the pedophile that went after his son. It all seems so evident after the fact, but Coben is able to craft his words so things are only apparent afterward.

In order to provoke readers’ interests, Coben doesn’t make every new development in the cases in Caught plot twists. Some are seen before they’re actually outright revealed. Clearly as soon as they mention the two supposed criminals went to college together, were roommates even, there is a connection there to why both their lives are ruined.

Coben is able to mash together plot twists and more obvious developments in his murder mysteries to provide more entertainment and encourage the reader. People read murder mysteries because of the love of the puzzle—can you find the clues and put them together before it’s all revealed in the end? While there is amusement to being shocked when a plot twist arises, there is also a sense accomplishment when able to guess the next development before it actually happens. Coben manages to blend these two aspects of murder mysteries in just the exact way to keep the pages turning. When this is coupled with the dropping-of-the-bomb-ending Coben creates a need to read another of his books, to see if maybe you can spot that ending before it happens, even if this one was unanticipated.

C.Z. 2011

One False Move... and out come the pruning shears

In the Harlan Coben novel One False Move, JP examines how a pair of pruning shears are used as a dominant symbol. They represent both power and fear, and are used to effectively tie together a solid biblical allusion and strengthen a key relationship.

In the New Jersey created in Harlan Coben's novel One False Move, the title of most powerful family in the Garden State belongs to the Bradfords. They are a wealthy family with both business and political smarts. The patriarch, Arthur Bradford, began as a farmer, invested in real estate, and worked his way to the position of running for governer and living on Bradford Farms, less a farm than a converted haven to support his superiority complex. And what is a man of monetary success and established, soon-to-become-greater power without hired thugs. The man who is the obvious lead of the Bradford muscle is Sam Richards. Sam has worked with Arthur for years, and is connected to the father of the central protagonist Myron Bolitar. Years previous, Arthur and Sam approached Mr. Bolitar, a factory owner in Newark, New Jersey, and extorted him by threatening to support a violent union that could destroy his business. When Mr. Bolitar refused, Sam layed down a pair of pruning shears on his desk and uttered the following comment.

"Imagine what they could do to a human being. Imagine snipping away a piece at a time. Imagine not how long it would take to die, but how long you could keep someone alive. (Coben 246)"

As a result, Mr. Bolitar is deeply concerned about the welfare of his family. He does what is possible to protect them, and is scared when he tells the story of how one night, he walked into Myron's room and saw a pair of pruning shears on Myron's bed. These threats establish the Bradfords and Sam Richards as people who will threaten, will back up their threats by causing slow, painful death, and not feel for anyone. In this way, the pruning shears are a symbol of not only fear, but power through fear. They also prove that the Bradfords have the ability to figuratively trim the hedges, or manipulate events important to them using absolutely any means necessary. In the end, when Myron is captured and trapped by the Bradfords ready to endure almost certain death, there are pruning shears on a table ready to use. Sam is the character who mainly uses the pruning shears, not only for intimidation but as a legitimate weapon. It even went so far as to frame Horace Slaughter, the father, ex-agent, and coach of basketball star Brenda Slaughter. He has a violent temper, and Brenda mentions that earlier in her life he ascended the bleachers of one of her games to threaten a small group of young men providing Brenda with some slightly too-flattering comments. Later, one of the youths has the tendons in his ankles cut by pruning shears. Naturally, the blame is pinned on Horace, but it is later revealed that it was Sam and his partner who committed the atrocity. In this way, Sam framed Horace as part of a larger plan. Sam is the veteran thug of the Bradford clan, and everyone who meets him, including Myron, knows that he is the experienced individual. He is small and not physically imposing in any way, but he strikes fear into everyone he meets. The fact that he has a tattoo of a snake on his arm is no coincidence. In fact, it ties in to the fact that the Bradfords and the pruning shears are all part of a biblical allusion far more significant than what is found in an average bestselling mystery thriller.

Eli Wickner is a retired police chief and Little League coach who took bribes from the Bradfords during his career. Myron approaches Wickner to receive information about the disappearance of Anita, the mother of Brenda. Myron was hired to keep an eye on Brenda to ensure that no harm would come to her. In turn, Brenda wanted Myron to find her mother, who had seemingly abandoned her at a young age. When Brenda herself disappears later in the novel, Myron comes to Wickman for information about Anita and bribes he took from the Bradfords. At gunpoint, Eli tells Myron the information he can give him. His quote assures that the Bradfords, and his relationship with them, is similar to that of a biblical allusion, which he directly mentions in his statement.

"Every good place has a Bradford family in it. To add temptation, I guess. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden. (284)"

At this point, it is realized that the snake tattoo on Sam's arm is no coincidence. It is a reference to the story of Adam and Eve and Satan in the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden. Bradford Farms, with its iron gate and security, is symbolic of the Garden of Eden, and the Bradfords are Satanic figures (although Arthur has a good side revealed near the end of the story, though he must be counted as an antagonist due to his many evil actions). Even the name Eli is a biblical allusion. Eli in the Bible was the High Priest and Judge of Israel for forty years, and the position of judge conglamarates with the law enforcement position of police chief formerly held by Wickner. The pruning shears, in this case, are part of the Creation allusion. As a gardening implement, the pruning shears can therefore be a part of the figurative Garden of Eden created by the dominating New Jersey family.

Pruning shears in One False Move are far more than a mere garden implement. They are a power symbol, a power that knows no end to ways to maintain itself. By making helping connect the novel to the Old Testament, the shears continue to help establish the horrific nature of the Bradfords through another well-known story. Not only does the tool enhance the darkness that is Bradford Farms, it strengthens the relationship between father and son. Mr. Bolitar's actions throughout his scene with Myron validate his love for his son and his family, and affirms what he will do and how much pride he will set aside to protect his loved ones. Ultimately, although the pruning shears are a dark and terrifying image, they are the strongest symbol in the novel, and strengthen the story to its highest potential level.

J.P. 2011

Disappearance central theme of Gone for Good
In this essay, J.P. expolores the condition of disappearance throughout the novel Gone for Good by Harlan Coben. The primary focus is on disappearance in the lives of the story's characters, and how the characters face their respective happenings.

Disappearance is a vague situation, making it an excellent theme for Harlan Coben's Gone for Good. Many angles of the word are approached through the situations faced by the characters. Each deals with some form of disappearance, losing everything from identity to fear. The title alone, Gone for Good, is suggestive of disappearance, and from chapter one until the end, this state of being graces the novel's pages.

The main protagonist of the story is Will Klein. Will has roots in the township of Livingston, New Jersey. His brother Ken, accused of raping and murdering neighbor Julie Miller eleven years previously, has been Will's idol since childhood, and possesses the one quality that Will lacks: courage. But Ken vanished eleven years previous and one theory after another arises. One after another, the important people in Will’s life disappear. The first chapter opens at his mother’s funeral, so immediately there is an abandonment in the form of death. Will works at a New York City shelter for runaways, many children and teenagers, some of whom are prostitutes. These young people lose many an intangible item in their line of work, from virginity to sense of worth. One passage perfectly describes the prospect disappearance in the dark world of a prostitute.

“I watched the passenger door open. The Buick Regal seemed to devour the child. She disappeared slowly, sinking into the dark. I watched and I don’t think I ever felt so helpless. I looked at Squares. His eyes were focused on the car. The Buick pulled away. The girl was gone as though she’d never existed. If the car chooses not to return, it would forever be that way. (Coben 63)”

Will is a character that describes himself as going to extremes to avoid confrontation, especially of a violent nature. But on two occasions he must face this fear and be willing to fight in order to prevent harm to himself and Julie’s sister Katy. This is a big character transition for him, and important to the central theme of disappearance, because his fear of confrontation not only disappears, but is the first negative condition of Will’s that disappears in the story. What is also greatly important due to this transition is the fact that Will displays genuine courage while it is revealed at the end that Ken displayed cowardice by running from the murder that he did in fact commit. Ken (whose favorite song, completely free of surprise, is "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult) actually disappears twice, once to escape from a life of crime to live a life under the protection of the FBI, and once at the end to prison. His arrest provides closure for the Millers and a real father (Will, as revealed in the last chapter) to Julie Miller's daughter Carly. But Will and Ken are not the only characters with disappearance a central event in their lives.

A main antagonist is John Asselta, better known as the Ghost. The name "Ghost" immediately suggests death, and vanishing. Asselta is aptly nicknamed because he not only vanishes, but makes other people vanish. It is mentioned that earlier in his life, the Ghost traveled to India to study a secret group of assassins called the Thuggae. Through his study, he becomes able to seemingly make himself appear and disappear whenever he desires. He appears suddenly and then vanishes without on several occasions throughout the novel. He is a psychopathic killer, a master of guns and knives. But his favorite execution method, by far, is strangulation. The Ghost enjoys not only the disappearance of life in human beings, but the slow and desperate loff of life, that ironically contrasts with his entrances and exits generally as swift and untraceable as the spirit that is his nickname. The following passage, occurring during a conversation between him and his mobster boss Philip McGuane, illustrates with vivid, near-sickening detail the answer to McGuane's question as to why Asselta enjoys hurting people.

"Not just hurting them. I enjoy killing them painfullly. I choose strangulation because it is a horrible way to die. No quick bullet. No sudden knife slash. You literally gasp for your last breath. You feel the life-nourishing oxygen being denied you. I do that to them, up close, watching them struggle for a breath that never comes. (258)"

Perhaps the most intriguing character to discuss in terms of Gone for Good's central theme of disappearance is Louis Castman. Castman is an ex-pimp who currently resides in a room in the Bronx, cared for by one of his girls, Tanya . His described experience in that room causes him a pain greater than anything that could have been experienced by the main protagonist in the classic novel Invisible Man, in which the subpar living conditions are vividly dictated. What is most fascinating about disappearance in the life of Castman is that it is often the lack of disappearance combined with disappearance to cause him pain that would fill the Ghost with the greatest in internal glee. Castman is paralyzed from the neck down, the side effect of a shooting from the ex boyfriend of Tanya. Because of this, he spends his life bed-ridden, hooked up a hospital machine, in a room with completely empty spare four corked walls covered with photos of Tanya. She is the victim of his former vicious abuse, and as a result she has a battered face and distorted features. The pictures, however, were all taken before her beatings. Castman, as a result, is forced to view the pictures of the way Tanya used to look constantly, realizing that there is no chance that her former beauty will ever return. Realizing that he will never be able to live the life he led in the past is perhaps the prospect that tortures Louis the greatest. He knows nothing that occurs outside his room, and never will for the remainder of his mortal existance. His other most painful part of living is his loneliness. He calls for Tanya, but due to the cork that lines the walls, he is unheard, and his cries for aid are unanswered. When Will and Squares leave after they meet with him to ask about the disappearance of Will's lover Sheila Rogers, he cries in desperation for them to stay. He reveals that his visiter count since his injury inflicted four years previously is a grand total of six, all old girls of his set to make fun of him and laugh at his misery. But he states his true feelings about the visit.

"And you want to hear something sick? I looked forward to it. Anything to break up the monotony, you know what I mean? (73)

Overwhelmingly, the text of Gone for Good reveals disappearance to be the dominant theme. Most of the characters have disappearance in their lives, and the act influences relationships as well as individuality. This single act drives the story to its level of greatness.

J.P. 2011

Symbolic meaning of the woods to the protagonists

In this essay, K.P. examines the nature of the woods that pertain to each individual character in the novel, The Woods. K.P. discusses how each character has guilty secrets that are hidden by the woods, and how each character must eventually come forth from the camouflage that the woods have provided. This essay will examine the symbolic meaning of the woods that each character has created.

In the novel, The Woods, Harlan Coben continuously brings out a mystifying, horrible memory of a terrible night that happened in the woods in Essex, New Jersey. Not only are they the title of the novel, but the woods are also the constant that brings all the loose ends of the story together. Each character has a different symbolic interpretation of the woods which ultimately bring forth the true feelings and thoughts of each individual.
Paul Copeland, the protagonist of the story has been living for the past twenty years never knowing how his sister, Camille, was murdered. When he was a teenager councilor at a summer camp, he was on guard duty one night and snuck off into the woods with his girlfriend. This was the first time that the woods provided a camouflage that hid the fact that he wasn’t doing what he was instructed to do that night. However, this first camouflage of the woods seemed harmless and immature. Little did he know at the time, his sister, who was seventeen, and a three of her friends also snuck into the woods and were thought to be murdered by a fellow councilor. Copeland, “Cope” for short, never got over the feeling of guilt that he possessed due to the fact that he was not at his post while his sister and her friends snuck off into the woods. Because Cope tried to lie to the police and say that he was at his correct station, and not in the woods, the woods then became a scary, dark camouflage of the truth. The woods began to continue to haunt him later on in life as well. Years went by and Cope continued to live his life blinded by the overwhelming feelings of guilt that continued to haunt him. Cope’s father would go into the woods everyday and dig into the ground in hopes of finding his daughter, Camille. Cope would follow him into the woods until the day his father told him that he wanted to go alone just one last time. “I stand behind the tree and watch him. I will do this eight more times. I never interrupt him. I never reveal myself. I think he doesn’t know that I am there. I am sure of it, in fact. And then one day, as he heads to his car, my father looks at me with dry eyes and says, “Not today, Paul. Today I go alone.” Embarrassed and confused about why his father rejected him from following, Cope stayed home. This was another point in the story where the woods became a symbol of the unknown and mystery. Cope was consumed by wonder of what his father was doing in the woods that day. This representation of mystery is clearly seen through this example. Later, Cope was to find out that on that day, his father killed and buried his mother in the woods that had haunted the family for years. This was another haunting reminder of death that the woods symbolized.
Lucy Gold is a character that was also greatly affected by that terrible night in the woods. She was the girlfriend of Paul Copeland who, at that time, snuck off into the woods with him on the night of the murders. Lucy’s father, Ira, owned the campgrounds and Lucy had been there many times as a kid. She knew the campgrounds very well, and helped Paul sneak off to a place where she knew that they wouldn’t get caught. On the night of the murders, Lucy and Paul went into the woods. “I forgot about the rustling in the woods. But now I know. We should have contacted someone. We should have stopped them from going deeper in the woods. But we didn’t.” When they heard the screams once more, she tried to distract Paul away from going to where the screams were. However, he did not listen this time, and went into the woods deeper to see what was going on. Secretly, Lucy knew that Camille and the three other teenagers were being harassed. She did not know, however, that they were being murdered. This scene, alone, stands for the invisibility that the woods provide for things such as the murder. In reality, you know that the woods are there, however, you don’t know what the woods contain. This is an example of the symbolic meaning of the woods. Although Lucy knew that the other teenagers were in the woods, she did not know what exactly was happening to them. She knew that they weren’t liked by the teenage councilor, Wayne Steubens, who killed them, but was certain that he would never do anything to put their lives in danger. Somehow, Lucy was convinced by Wayne to lure Paul away from his post. The thought of lying to Paul like she did never fully left her mind, and forever made the woods the constant symbol of lying and terror. By the end of the story, Lucy finally comes clean to Cope and tell him about the lies she told him the night of the murders. Cope became angry and did not know what to think of what Lucy said. This also gave the woods a new symbolic meaning to both Lucy and Cope. The woods then became a symbol of breaking trust and continuous lying. After Cope found out that Lucy lied to him about luring him into the woods, he was overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of being unsure of the future, and he told Lucy that he wasn’t sure where their relationship would go from there. This, once again, would symbolize Lucy’s constant reminder of the pain Lucy’s lie caused everyone for over twenty years.
Harlan Coben does a great job of bringing all the loose ends together by connecting Lucy and Paul not only through the physical representation of the woods, but also through the symbolic meanings of the woods. Because Paul and Lucy, together, snuck into the woods that night, the act of being secretive and daring helped to restate the fact that the woods seem harmless, yet covering. Because they were teenagers who just wanted to get away, they felt as if it was harmless to sneak into the woods that night. The immaturity of the two characters at the time also represented the immaturity of the woods as a camouflage for evil. The woods hid the fact that they weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing, and compared to the rest of the story, is seemingly harmless. The symbolic meaning of the woods being a symbol of death is also present throughout the whole story. The first representation was the death of the relationship between Paul and Lucy. They were very young and immature, and because the actual murders of the teens ripped so many families apart, the love between the two teens slowly ripped apart as well. Because Lucy’s dad owned the campgrounds, Paul’s family, still in grieving, would not permit Paul to see Lucy. This symbolic meaning of death continued to haunt Paul and Lucy just as much as the actual deaths of the teenagers. The symbol of death continued to show throughout the novel as seen when the teenagers are murdered. Not only is this the basis of the novel, but it represents the death of youthfulness. All four teenagers were murdered that night, all too young to be taken away from their families and cut short of life’s offerings. This ruined all four families by slowly deteriorating the emotions that each family member had. This is especially seen through Cope’s father. “I thought about my father. In the woods. With that shovel. His heart broken. Searching for his little girl.” Lastly, the symbol of hope remained in the woods as well. Cope’s father’s digging was the main representation of hope. Because life, like plants, starts in the ground, it is represented to be the start of new life. However, when someone dies, you bury them in the ground, therefore representing death in the form of beginning in the ground. Cope’s father hope to find a medium between life and death and hoped to at least find the closure he needed emotionally to get over the death of his teenage daughter. This symbol of hope is vastly wide, much like the description of the woods. Although the characters have to go through many difficult tasks to overcome the obstacles they face with dealing with the closure needed to regain normalcy, the woods, the main symbol and theme, constantly correlate the characters into reuniting. Paul and Lucy have many different factors that connect them socially, emotionally, and physically, much like the woods contain many different things that intertwine together to create a unique consistency.

(KP 2010)

Use of manipulation expressed throughout the novel, Long Lost, through the main characters

In this essay, K.P. will discuss the use of manipulation within the novel Long Lost by Harlan Coben. K.P. will identify and describe the use of manipulation through characters such as the teenagers, Terese Collins, and Myron Bolitar. The manipulation portrayed in this novel is used for both the better and for the worse. Each character represents three different uses and forms of manipulation throughout the entire novel. This will effect the overall theme of the novel by portraying the idea of manipulation as a means of achievement.
In the novel, Long Lost, Harlan Coben creates the overall theme of manipulation by portraying three specific characters as either being manipulated into acting upon others' influence or by being the manipulator. By showing the characters in three completely different lights, and revealing the secrets and lies that hide behind each one, Coben creates the theme of achievement that someone else has accomplished by controlling their actions. Although they believe that they are completely in control of the situation, they are truly being controlled by a more powerful human being.
Myron Bolitar, the protagonist of the novel, Long Lost, has been in love with a woman for ten years. Although he has not talked to her for the past decade, he beckons to her call of distress the first chance he gets. The woman he is in love with, Terese Collins, is a beautiful, lustful woman who can easily talk him in to running to wherever she is. This is the first form of manipulation that takes place in the novel, and it is the first symbolic reason of manipulation. “Terese Collins. Imagery flooded in—her Class-B-felony bikini, that private island, the sun-kissed beach, her gaze that could melt teeth, her Class-B-felony bikini. It’s worth mentioning the bikini twice.” Because Coben uses imagery to describe the beautiful Terese, he creates the tone of weakness and vulnerability that encompasses Myron whenever he thinks about her. This is the main downfall of Myron that allows him to be so easily manipulated by Terese. Because Terese convinces him to get up and leave his home, and essentially his life, she drags Myron into a whirlwind of trouble that has followed Terese ever since they left the island. Although Myron is a well grounded man, this sudden form of manipulation to achieve success in the eyes of the beholder completes the meaning of the story by explaining to the reader how easily someone can fall under the spell of manipulation. Because the conversation between Myron and Terese is the beginning dialogue in the novel, it symbolizes the use of manipulation to be the forefront of the action that takes place throughout the entire storyline. Although Myron believes that he is in control of his life, he constantly relies on other people such as his best friend, and also the woman he loves, Terese, to tell him what to do in emergency situations. He is not in control of his own life, and due to the manipulative ways of Terese Collins, Myron has no choice but to lead the life that Terese essentially wants him to lead.
Terese Collins is another aspect of manipulation seen throughout the entire novel. She is very aware of her outward beauty, and knows that she is capable of controlling peoples’ thoughts and actions. This allows her to understand her capabilities as a figure of authority. By using the art of manipulation to get others to do as she tells them to, Terese is able to coax people into partaking in her acts of lawless behavior and destruction. Terese is the main symbolism of manipulation not only by her looks, but her sly way with words. Throughout the novel, Terese is able to convince people into doing whatever she asks. Myron explains her voice as "calm" and "soothing". This shows that by Terese's play on human emotion, she is able to convince even the toughest people that she is in control. Once Terese finds out that her biological daughter was conformed into terrorist beliefs and is partaking in terrorist actions of violence, she convinces Myron, a business executive, to help her capture her daughter into the safety of her mother's loving nurture. This task is something that Myron normally wouldn't help with, however, Terese dangles a past memory of Myron's desperation over his head which, in turn, convinces him to do her deed. Although she is only asking him for a favor, this is the main form of manipulation that Terese uses to trick Myron into achieving her goals. This accomplishment is successful and furthermore proves that Terese is the main manipulator in the novel and uses her looks, vocalism, and sympathy to get whatever she wants.
Lastly, the group of teenagers present throughout the entire novel are the final, main form of manipulation. Because the organization that posed to be an embryonic fertilization facility was actually the Muslim terrorist group, Mossad. The group's main leader, Mohammad Matar, created many different aliases and "founded" the facility as a doctor who specialized in in vitro fertilization and embryonic storage. This made Mohammad the most powerful manipulator throughout the entire novel. However, he targeted the United States for many years. Although his process was slow, and time consuming, Mohammad would take the embryos from the parents who have the typical, all-around, American look. "The last teenager to get off the bus is a boy with blond hair. He has blue eyes with a gold ring around each pupil. And though he wears a heavy backpack, he walks into the crowd with his head held high, his shoulders back, and his posture perfect." This use of imagery to identify the type of teenagers they create, allows the reader to understand that Mohammad's plan for extreme terrorism is to use the teenagers to do the terrorist acts. Because they look like typical Americans, people will not suspect them of doing anything wrong, especially because they are beautiful. The teenagers' life has been manipulated, however, since day one. Mohammad would take the embryos and implant them into other Caucasian teenage women, make them give birth to the babies, then the babies would be taken into the care of the terrorists. The children grow up to learn the ways of the Muslim faith and are treated with absolutely no love or compassion. This toughens the children into thinking that their only place in life is to protect the powerful leader, Mohammad, and to kill as many Americans as possible. Because Mohammad teaches them this way without ever giving them any option to change, his form of manipulation is the most powerful. Because he has convinced them so thoroughly to believe that his way of life is the best way, when they are put in a situation that is outside their comfort zone, they react in complete fear and terror. This, ironically, is the exact emotions the teenagers are taught to put into other people. The teenagers do not know of love or understanding, therefore, do not realize that what they are doing is wrong and inhumane. the manipulation that they were subjected to at an early age, continues the theme of manipulation as being the main way of achieving something for someone else.
Harlan Coben creates the theme of the novel, Long Lost, to be that of manipulation and lies. Although both of the main characters portray two different meanings of manipulation, the central negativity of the act remains.

(K.P. 2010)