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THE STRANGER by Harlan Coben: Book Review

Harlan Coben has done it again, writing a mystery that will grab you from the first line and not let you go.  “The stranger didn’t shatter Adam’s world all at once”–how’s that for an attention grabber?

Adam Price is a successful lawyer in a wealthy New Jersey suburb, a place where, to quote Garrison Keillor, “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”  Adam is having a drink with friends when a stranger comes up to him and says, “You don’t have to stay with her,” and with those seven words Adam’s life as he has known it comes to an end.

The stranger tells Adam that his wife, the mother of his two sons, faked a pregnant test two years ago.  When Adam protests, the man tells him to check his Visa bill; there he’ll find the “fake a pregnancy” website that Corinne used.  Corinne is away for the day at a teachers’ conference so, after fighting the urge, Adam goes online to check out the stranger’s information.  And, sure enough, he finds the proof that his wife created a fictitious pregnancy and then “had a miscarriage.”  But why would she do that?

Heidi Dann is getting into her car after a luncheon with friends when she hears a whisper in her ear, another life-changing message to an unsuspecting person.  There’s a website called,” she’s told.  

Dan Molino is at his son’s football game when the stranger says, “You know, don’t you?”  And all the stranger wants is ten thousand dollars not to make public the contents of the manila envelope he hands Dan.

These three strands are all important to this novel, but most of the emphasis is on Adam and what follows the stranger’s whispered remarks to him.  Adam is trying to hold his family together as best he can, but the ties are weakening.  How could anyone could have discovered her deception?  Why won’t Corinne explain the reason she did what she did?  

Harlan Coben is an absolute master of suspense.  The people in his novels are your neighbors, your friends, even you yourself, caught in a maelstrom of terror.  One day you are going about your business, with your life continuing as usual, and the next day everything is turned upside-down.   And whatever steps you take seem useless.

Harlan Coben is the winner of mystery’s trifecta–the Edgar, the Shamus, and the Anthony awards–for his novels, which have sold over sixty million copies.  Let me predict that The Stranger will add many more to that total.

You can read more about Harlan Coben at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.



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