The Stranger – Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is a gifted writer who knows how to grab the reader by the balls, and grip harder and harder. Sometimes his plots are so far from believable, that you can escape the grip. But when Coben gets it right, it’s a near perfect experience. This book is a terrific example of Coben near the top of his form.

Take a successful suburban family man like Adam Price. He is happily married with two kids. No marriage nor money woes. No health issues. Perfect. Introduce a stranger who exposes a lie. Watch what happens.

Corben’s setup is perfect. The twists and turns – because you never go in the direction you are thinking about – are brilliantly crafted in the main, and the excitement builds up. This is a fine perfect example of a page turner. Partly, that overcomes the one or two rough patches in the book (small, but noticeable), though Coben’s observations on this type of American lifestyle also might grate. They somehow appear as spiteful rather than thoughtful. Perhaps to balance that, Coben introduces a couple of good characters that help out when Adam Price needs help most of all.

The characterization is mostly shallow, but the action draws you in so deeply you may not notice. You may have to suspend your disbelief at one or two plot devices, but you will be rewarded by experiencing a good, entertaining, read. Not Coben’s finest, but well worth reading. But don’t start it unless you have time to finish it…