Review: Jake Fisher made a promise to the love of his life on the day she married another man. "Promise me you'll leave us alone," Natalie asked of him. "Promise me you won't follow us or call or even e-mail." He does and despite the pain he feels, he keeps the promise. Until, six years later, he reads that her husband has been murdered, which in his mind absolves him of his promise, in Six Years, a stand-alone thriller by Harlan Coben.
Jake decides to attend the funeral of Todd Sanderson, only to discover that his widow is named Delia and they had been married for 16 years. So was he living two lives, one with Delia in Georgia and one with Natalie somewhere else? If so, where was somewhere else and more importantly, where was Natalie? He asks a friend, who was once with the FBI, to locate the current address of Natalie Sanderson nee Avery, only to be shocked once again by what he learns: Natalie seems to have completely vanished following her wedding day in Vermont, a ceremony for which there is also no record. Determined to unravel the threads of this mystery, Jake starts following even the thinnest of leads to find Natalie, only to have her contact him via e-mail with a single message of two words: "You promised."
Six Years is — at least for its first half — a nearly flawless thriller. The premise is riveting, the pacing of the storyline perfect. But about the mid-point it all stalls for two primary reasons. The first reason is that Jake, despite his inexplicable, and mostly irrational, love for Natalie, is a pretty level-headed kind of guy. And yet he continues to do dumb things, even after being warned repeatedly by friend and foe that his actions are not only endangering Natalie's life — if she is even still alive — but his own life and the lives of several others. Indeed, he directly and indirectly causes more than a few deaths as the plot moves forward. Jake as a character actually gets rather tiresome by this point. But probably more seriously, the second reason is that the reader, who always seems to be several steps ahead of Jake, will have figured out the mystery behind Natalie's disappearance far too early in the book. There are, to be sure, some details that aren't clear and that helps keep the suspense level elevated a bit, but as a result of already knowing — or at least strongly suspecting — what Jake will ultimately find out, the second half isn't nearly as compelling as the first. Still, overall, this is a solidly plotted, in many respects refreshingly original, novel, and despite the few issues previously mentioned, an enjoyable one.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided an eARC of Six Years for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Dutton (Hardcover), March 2011
ISBN-13: 9780525952060; ISBN-10: 0525952063
Location(s) referenced in Six Years: Vermont; Massachusetts
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Six Years by Harlan Coben
Publication Date: March 2013
List Price: $27.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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