We get mad at someone for cutting us off in traffic or for taking too long to order at Starbucks or for not responding exactly as we see fit, and we have no idea that behind their facade, they may be dealing with some industrial-strength shit. Their lives may be in pieces. They may be in the midst of incalculable tragedy and turmoil, and they may be hanging on to their sanity by a thread.
― Harlan Coben, The Stranger
Adam lives the American dream, settling in the posh but cozy town of Cedarfield, New Jersey, with his two lacrosse-playing boys and beautiful wife Corinne. Adam has it all. Or he had it all, until a stranger walks up to him in the local dive bar, where banker dads are gathering to form teams for sixth grade lacrosse, and reveals a bizarre and life-shattering secret. The stranger walks away, and when Adam steps out of that bar he steps into a new world, where people keep secrets and loved ones have double lives and justice takes strange forms that often get out of hand.
This sort of opening is Coben’s trademark–he’s a great fisherman and he’ll hook you every time. Although this could be considered a guilty pleasure, this is an example of a guilty pleasure done right. It doesn’t read like a script for a movie, as some fast-paced thrillers do. This type of book is Coben’s jam, and he has totally mastered his craft.
If you like Harlen Coben, also try reading:
- Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
- The Farm by Tom Robb Smith
- The Three Day Affair by Michael Kardos