WHOA. Like really WHOA. It’s books like this that make me think I should give up my list of all the books I want to read and juts read thrillers and mainstream fiction! Who needs literary fiction or classics right? The ONLY downside is authors, like Coben, are SOOOOOO prolific. Even if I wanted to read all of his works, I would feel bad not reading other books. In this book alone he already has 26 other books listed. That’s one more than I’ve already read this year! Too much.
When someone from Dutton* reached out to me about Fool Me Once (Coben’s most recent book released this week) and this novel, I was a bit hesitant at first. I don’t usually read a lot of thrillers unless they come highly recommended by friends and even then they usually languish on my shelf for a long time. The good news is I found out out-of-order that my friends Hayley and Kennedy LOVE Coben! So I bumped these up my list and thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into his world.
Have you ever wondered what happens when online vigilantes take things too far? Well this is that book. I mean this isn’t anything like ANONYMOUS taking down Trump or Ashley Madison (not really), this is about a group of do-gooders (mostly) who don’t want secrets in the world. They want to make the secrets available to those they affect and let them deal with them. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and would love it if Coben did a book from their perspective, but I feel like it wouldn’t quite have the thriller aspect this one did.
And then of course: the shit hits the fan.
I won’t go into the complexities of who did what and how all the webs intertwine, but suffice to say there are a few and it was fascinating.
We don’t spend too much time with the do-gooders. We see what happens when they try to do their “good” deed through Adam and what happens to him. All he wants is answers. And those answers don’t come easily or cheap. I really liked Adam as a character and felt Coben wrote him to be likeable even when he was being a bit of an ass. His insecurities, the few there are, come across as endearing and not annoying.
We didn’t spend enough time with other characters to really know as much about them and that’s probably the one downside to the book. I really wanted to know more about Kuntz. Overall, the characters outside of Adam weren’t really too developed. That definitely works in Coben’s favor because I wasn’t quite sure who were the red herrings and who weren’t!
Recommendation: All of this being said, I would still recommend this one to pretty much anyone. There are a few scenes that are a bit gory, but it’s not so thriller/horror that you don’t want to read it. Coben’s writing style was strong enough to get a physical reaction out of me. I was reading at one point and when I finished a chapter I threw my head back and nearly brained myself on the wall I was that stunned!
Opening Line: “The stranger didn’t shatter Adam’s world all at once.”
Closing Line: “You just have to believe that she’d want to.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. No goods or money were exchanged in return for my honest opinion.
Additional Quotes from The Stranger
“He knew that the Internet catered to every peccadillo and taste, even ones that defied the imagination, but the fact that there was an entire website based on faking a pregnancy was yet another one of the moments when a rational human being just wants to surrender and cry and admit that our worst instincts have won.” (38)
“When you marry, you marry your spouse’s hopes and dreams too.” (180)
“A secret revealed is a secret destroyed.” (364)