The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.
Adam Price has a lot to lose: a comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life.
Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne's deception, and realizes that if he doesn't make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he's stumbled into will not only ruin lives--it will end them. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
My Review: One of the things I love about Harlan Coben’s books is that they’re a super fast, super fun read. I’ve read several of his books and every one of them has a good mystery that’s equally disturbing and a lot of fun. It’s a careful balance, I know. I don’t know if some of his books deal with the supernatural, but the ones I have read do not. They’re just fun old-fashioned pot boilers with lots of twists and turns. The Stranger is certainly one of those super fun reads that keeps you page turning until the book is over.
Now. If you’re looking for some serious literature with a touch of nostalgia and a whole heaping helping of inspiration, this book is not for you. And Coben isn’t trying to be that way, either, so it’s not like he’s missing the mark. The Stranger is decently written in that the writing is very characteristic of Coben. It’s not about the writing, it’s not trying to be time-honored literature. It wants to be what it is. And boy, is it. I love how Coben uses somewhat clichéd examples of things—i.e. golf playing men are very stereotypically dressed, gym-going housewives are very stereotypically coiffed, etc. He operates within a familiar world and that allows the reader to not only know right what’s going on, but to relate not only on an “I’ve read this before” scale but also on a real life level. We know people like this. We understand the clichés. These clichés are real life. I feel like Coben purposefully writes like this to throw his books into a setting that’s familiar. And that’s what makes the mysteries and plots and turns work really well, actually. Because these situations feel real and the plots and turns are just cannily enough like a normal life that it’s easy to put yourself in the situation of the main character.
That’s the crux of the books, actually. The mysteries and plots and turns are not super tricky or deep, but they’re so much fun. And they seem like they could really happen, which adds a delicious layer of creepiness to the whole thing. There’s always that edge where you feel like this could actually happen, and that’s creepy. And fun. Coben is the master of excitement and twists and turns and mystery thrillers that are fun to read.
I loved reading this book after a stream of very serious and very heavy books. It was a nice break. I had just read a huge biography that, while interesting, was not exactly one I would take to the beach or in an airplane to page turn and just be immersed in. Like I said, it came at just the right time. I finished it in probably two days. It’s a fast, fun read that was totally characteristic of Coben, which, to me, was awesome.
My Rating: 4 stars
For the sensitive reader: There is some language here and there and some light violence (more discussed instead of described intimately). It is on the cleaner end of books of this genre.