I was walking to school, lost in feeling sorry for myself—my dad was dead, my mom in rehab, my girlfriend missing—when I saw the Bat Lady for the first time.
I had heard the rumors, of course. The Bat Lady supposedly lived alone in the dilapidated house on the corner of Hobart Gap Road and Pine. You know the one. I stood in front of it now. The worn yellow paint was shedding like an old dog. The once-solid concrete walk was cracked into quarter-size fragments. The uncut lawn had dandelions tall enough for the adult rides at Six Flags.
The Bat Lady was said to be a hundred years old and only came out at night, and if some poor child hadn’t made it home from a playdate or practice at the Little League field before nightfall—if he or she risked walking home in the dark instead of getting a ride, or was maybe crazy enough to cut through her yard—the Bat Lady got you.
What she supposedly did with you was never made clear. No child had vanished from this town in years. Teenagers, like my girlfriend, Ashley, sure, they could be here one day, holding your hand, looking deep into your eyes, making your heart go boom-boom-boom—and be gone the next. But little kids? Nope. They were safe, even from the Bat Lady.
So I was just about to cross to the other side of the street— even I, a mature teenager entering my sophomore year at a brand-new high school, wanted to avoid that spooky house— when the door creaked open.
For a moment, nothing happened. The door was all the way open now, but no one was there. I stopped and waited. Maybe I blinked. I can’t be sure.
But when I looked again, the Bat Lady was there.
She could have been a hundred years old. Or maybe two hundred. I had no idea why they called her Bat Lady. She didn’t look like a bat. Her hair was gray and hippie long, hanging down to her waist. It blew in the wind, obscuring her face. She wore a torn white gown that resembled a bridal costume in an old horror movie or heavy-metal video. Her spine was bent like a question mark.
Slowly Bat Lady raised a hand so pale it was more vein-blue than white, and pointed a shaky, bony finger in my direction. I said nothing. She kept pointing until she was sure I was looking. When she saw that I was, Bat Lady’s wrinkled face spread into a smile that sent little icicles down my spine.
I had no idea how she knew my name.
“Your father isn’t dead,” Bat Lady said.
Her words sent a jolt that knocked me back a step.
“He is very much alive.”
But standing there, watching her vanish back into her decrepit cave, I knew what she was telling me wasn’t true.
Because I had seen my father die.
Okay, that was weird.
Copyright © 2011 by Harlan Coben
Harlan Coben’s Shelter is the first in a new series featuring the nephew of sports agent Myron Bolitar. As the action begins, 15-year-old Mickey is still disconsolate after witnessing the death of his father in a car accident. With his mother in rehab, he comes to live with his Uncle Myron, and the move means he’s now “the new guy” in school. Lucky for Mickey, he hooks up with pretty Ashley. When she vanishes without a trace, he’s not only heartbroken, he’s determined to find her. With the help of some new friends he recruits along the way, Mickey follows Ashley’s trail into a seedy underworld. But his world is rocked once again when he learns Ashley isn’t the person she claimed to be…and neither was his father.
Hardcover Book : 320 pages
Publisher: Putnam Pub Group/Mbr Of Penguin Put ( September 06, 2011 )
Item #: 13-441572
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.672inches
Product Weight: 14.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
not finished with the book yet, only 43 pages in, but finding it easy to put down, unlike his "adult" reads. I too agree it's a bit juvinile, it is written in a 15 year old's point of view, which is maybe why I can't really dig in. But I'll continue on and finish...and then probably hand it off to my boss' freshman daughter.
Didn't think I would enjoy it and put off starting it because thought it would be a step down from his writing, however once I started it I enjoyed it very much. Good to have a different kind of read and so fast moving. Keep up the good work, read the one they reprinted from his first works and thought it was as good if not better than some of his others.
BUT I like them all.
I thought the book was a little juvenile, but not in a bad way. It was a very pleasant quick read that keep me up at night because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I would recommend this to anyone who likes other Harlan Coben novels:0)
I very much enjoy Harlan Coben, so I couldn't believe he wrote this. I felt like I was reading a Nancy Drew mystery. I thought it was like a kids' book. I hate to say it, but I sure don't agree with the other readers.