In the course of eight consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers, millions of readers have discovered Harlan Coben’s page-turning thrillers, filled with his trademark edge-of-your-seat suspense and gut-wrenching emotion. In Fool Me Once, Coben once again outdoes himself.
Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: Can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
My Review: One thing that I really love about Coben’s stories is that he’s a take no prisoners kind of guy. He doesn’t balk at sacrificing a main character when necessary, and I think that adds an element to surprise and unpredictability to his books that’s really fun. Many authors hold their main characters or their really likeable characters sacred. They don’t hurt them. They may get in trouble, they may be close to dying or being in danger, but in the end they’re okay. On the one hand I like this—who wants things to be realistic? I mean, if you like someone, they should be infallible, right? Not so with Coben. He doesn’t care. He does what he has to do in order to keep the story going and keep the readers engaged. He doesn’t do it gratuitously, either. Sometimes a character is killed just so that an author can be all tough and like “I don’t care about my characters! I don’t care what you think! I’ll kill anyone!” Not with Coben. At the end of a book you can look back and feel comfortable that this was coming all along and it just added to the story when it actually happened.
Fool Me Once is no exception to this great Coben tactic. I don’t want to spoil the book so I’m not going to go into details, but his books really do keep you interested around every corner and switchback. There are secrets being hidden by everyone, and that makes it fun. Like I’ve said before, I’m not one of those who tries to figure out whodunit, I just like to be surprised, and so I really enjoy Coben’s writing style.
I think Coben’s characters are fun. They’re not super detailed or beautifully, literarily written, but they are the kind of characters that are understandable. They’re people you know and people you relate to, so it’s easy to fill in the gaps yourself. I think this really speaks to Coben’s talent at novel writing, actually. He is able to make characters that are everyman, and that ability is easier said than done. It’s easy to try to make characters that don’t need a lot of details but still be fleshed out, but actually making that happen is difficult. It’s the little details, the boiling people down to their basics—what we observe, how they act, what they wear, what they say, etc., that can create a person that we instantly understand. Coben does this masterfully. This character detail allows the reader to assign their own beliefs to the person, and I believe that makes the story stronger and more relatable.
Now. Is this a literary masterpiece? No. Do I recommend this to English professors to have their upper level grad students dissect and discuss in a semester-long class on classics? No. However, if you’re looking for a quick read, a great diversion, and a fast-paced wild ride, then this is certainly your thing. Plane rides, vacations, commuting, even reading just for distraction…this is your thing. This is a good old-fashioned potboiler with a fun story line and a satisfying ending.
My Rating: 4 Stars
For the sensitive reader: Coben’s books have some language and some sexual content. This book is on par with others he’s written and is pretty standard for the genre.