I’ve just finished Harlan Coben’s novel Caught. It’s lots of fun, as are most of Coben’s novels. This one has a particularly labyrinthine and rococo plot involving the disappearance of a beautiful teenage girl, a disastrous scavenger hunt at Princeton, a drunken driver, a vanished corpse, a planted GPS, etc. All making an enjoyable and entrancing thriller, if you’re looking for a good beach read.
I have enjoyed Mr. Coben for many years. (We both love musical comedy, for one thing.) His characters are silly, heroic, original, kinky and quite contemporary. But one subplot jolted me and aroused my anxiety as a small business entrepreneur. This subplot shows the Internet being used to totally ravage the reputation, business and careers of five accomplished men who were roommates in college. I was struck with a stomach-clenching fear as this subplot unfolded. Could this happen to me or my company Corporate Rain International?
I don’t know. But, to judge from Coben’s fiction and cyber conjecture, it’s not at all out of the realm of the possible for any small business owner to unfairly take a reputation hit from a concerted effort to besmirch. Or perhaps this is just entrepreneurial paranoia.
Ah well. It’s part of the small businessman’s job to worry each day about the hypothetical, as well as the real, even if it is from the phantasmagoric imagination of Harlan Coben. As Pierre Beaumarchais noted in The Barber of Seville (1775), “I would rather worry without need than live without heed.” Thank you, Pierre.