Review: Attorney Adam Price seems to be living a good life in New Jersey — a loving wife, two terrific sons, and a thriving practice. One night, while waiting for a meeting to begin, he's approached by a man, who tells him that his wife's recent pregnancy, one in which she says she had a miscarriage, was a lie, that she faked everything. As the man walks away, Adam can't begin to express his anger at what he's just heard, but he isn't sure to whom he should direct his anger, in The Stranger, a suspense thriller by Harlan Coben.
Before the stranger left, he offered a few clues as to proof that his information was correct. Adam can't help but follow up on them, and determines that the stranger was correct. But why would Corinne fake a pregnancy? To what end? When she returns from a education conference in Atlantic City, Adam confronts her. She doesn't deny it, but refuses to discuss it. Instead, she asks for some time. The next morning, she disappears, a text to Adam simply saying, "Maybe we need some time apart. You take care of the kids. Don't try to contact me. It will be okay. Just give me a few days. Please." Confused, Adam does try to find her, and it isn't long before he's involved with two murder investigations, women who both, but separately, had a connection to the stranger.
The premise of The Stranger is an intriguing one, and the first third of this book is compelling and strong. But then, quite suddenly, the narrative loses its way, almost as if the author couldn't figure out where to take the story but kept writing anyway, hoping something might materialize. More characters are introduced, several plot threads open up (and essentially go nowhere), and it's really quite a mess. It all more or less comes together towards the end, and — to its credit — not in a predictable manner, but it's a bit disappointing that the raw tension and suspense from the early part of the book couldn't be maintained throughout. Certainly part of the problem is that the clean, relatively straightforward storyline that is introduced gets sidetracked in what becomes a supremely convoluted, unnecessarily complex plot. Despite a number of positive elements, it is, nonetheless, hard to get past how quickly the story all fell apart, and while recovering somewhat in the final chapters, never really regaining any momentum.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided an eARC of The Stranger for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Dutton (Hardcover), March 2013
ISBN-13: 9780525953494; ISBN-10: 0525953493
Fool Me Once
Dutton (Hardcover), March 2016
ISBN-13: 9780525955092; ISBN-10: 0525955097
Location(s) referenced in The Stranger: New Jersey
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The Stranger by Harlan Coben
Publication Date: March 2015
List Price: $27.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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