The Stranger by Harlan Coben

the-stranger#1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense Harlan Coben delivers his most shocking thriller yet, proving that a well-placed lie can help build a wonderful life– and a secret has the same explosive power to destroy it.

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.” – Publisher Summary/Amazon

I miss Harlan Coben. Well, let me rephrase that: I miss the Harlan Coben of old. The one who wrote novels like Tell No One, and The Woods. Such heart-racing, captivating thrillers as those that kept me on the edge of my seat and cemented my loyalty forever. He hasn’t been around for a few years now. However, after reading The Stranger, Coben’s newest novel, I think he may be making his way back to us.

Adam Price is at a coach’s meeting for his son’s sports team when he is approached by a man who introduces himself as “the Stranger.” The Stranger then reveals a small but devastating piece of information about Corrine, Adam’s wife – that if true, will rock the very foundations of their marriage and family. When Adam confronts Corrine, she asks for some time before she has to explain things to him, thereby setting off a chain of events involving a web much larger than Adam could ever have imagined – and much more deadly, as well.

There is definitely a strong emotional edge to this tale – after all, imagine being told that the one person you trust implicitly has betrayed you in some way? Imagine looking back on your life with a different set of eyes and seeing something completely different than what you had thought it was. Coben includes characters that are realistically drawn – many of them could be your friends or neighbors – who are suddenly shot out of their comfort zone and into a web of lies, deceit, and danger.

There are many twists and turns to keep readers wondering until the last minute, and Coben does well with keeping the suspense and action realistic yet exciting for us. I found the final twist to be somewhat incongruent with the story – it didn’t seem to fit quite cohesively enough for my taste – however, it was still a satisfying end in general. The Stranger is absolutely on a level above that of Coben’s last two or three novels, and my hope that he will continue to surprise me is definitely going to keep me coming back for more.

The Stranger by Harlan Coben: On sale March 24, 2015

3.5 stars

Source: Penguin Group/Dutton {via NetGalley}

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