Harlan Coben’s Shelter
With his 2011 novel Shelter, mystery author Harlan Coben introduced a YA spin-off to his bestselling Myron Bolitar series, cleverly connecting the respective protagonists through family ties (uncle and nephew). As the mature thrillers are under development by Netflix, Prime Video has secured the rights to Mickey Bolitar and sent the teenage detective to live with a different relative in their adaptation: his aunt Shira (played by Constance Zimmer).
After his father’s death and his mother’s institutionalisation, Mickey (Jaden Michael) is still trying to find his bearings in unfamiliar surroundings, when he bonds with fellow new student Ashley. The two make plans to meet up after school, but she never shows, having seemingly vanished into thin air. Together with friendly faces Spoon (Adrian Greensmith) and Ema (Abby Corrigan), Mickey desperately tries to find out what happened to her.
Surprisingly multifarious and refined for a show presumably aimed at young adults, Shelter doesn’t hold back or underestimate its viewer’s intelligence. Advancing at a harmonious pace, it addresses a variety of themes: the mystery is not limited to Ashley’s disappearance, rather every inhabitant of their New Jersey town appears to have a secret of their own, and local folktales converge with cultural heritage. Nevertheless, ordinary growing pains also get their fair share of screen time, as the adolescents have to navigate bullies, school work and complicated parental relationships.
The series works with such a well-crafted script that it can easily overcome the occasional line that might look better on the page than it sounds spoken out loud. From Mickey, down to briefly appearing secondary figures, the characters are each elaborately substantiated and engaging. In particular, the main trio complement each other so sovereignly, the scenes in which they work together have a kindling energy of the kind perhaps last seen on Harry Potter. The performances have a genuine air to them – in particular, the fact that Mickey and his mother converse in Spanish aids the audience’s amenability.
More than a few suspense shows struggle to find a natural progression of unveiling bits and pieces of the puzzle without becoming predictable. Harlan Coben’s Shelter effortlessly masters this balancing act and delights in keeping viewers guessing as to where it is headed.
Harlan Coben’s Shelter is released on Prime Video on 18th August 2023.
Watch the trailer for Harlan Coben’s Shelter here: