Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Stranger - Harlan Coben

The Stranger
Harlan Coben

Adam Price leads a pretty nice life.  Married to Corrine, a woman he still loves; two teenaged sons; a law practice that affords him a good living in a nice house in an upscale suburb, all chosen by Corrine.  It’s all just sort of happened for him.  Corrine is different.  She has a capital-P Plan for everything that happens.  Since she’s at a teachers’ conference, Adam is the one sitting at a lacrosse draft meeting, holding Corrine’s ranked-in-order list of possible draftees for various teams. 
Just before the draft, a stranger sidles up to Adam.  He looks almost sad when he drops the bombshell that Adam’s wife, Corrine, faked her pregnancy a few years ago.  He tells Adam where to look for proof, then he simply leaves.  Adam tries to put this out of his mind, telling himself it must be some sick joke or something.  But it works on him until he has to find out for sure.  He’s sickened when he finds the proof.  The only hope is that there’s some kind of explanation that he can accept.  When he asks for one, Corrine stonewalls him, and eventually disappears.  Adam wonders how well he really knows his own wife.  And he’s going to find out the identity of this ‘stranger.’

Maybe the most frightening aspect of this novel is that it might only take one uncovered lie to rip away everything a person thinks he has.  Adam was completely secure in his marriage, in his family.  It was all part of the bedrock of his existence.  But one lie irreparably damaged it.  Not just for him, maybe, but for his sons, too.  He never loses sight of the fact that this whole life he’s part of is their life, too.
His investigation starts small, finding details on a credit card charge.  It inevitably widens to include more and more people.  People he’s known for years; whose children go to school with his; who serve on committees with him; who spent years standing on the sidelines of lacrosse fields with him and his wife.  If you can’t know your spouse, how can you know the guy down the street?  What secrets are hidden behind that Chamber of Commerce smile?  Once the stranger is factored in, it goes to a deeper, darker place than I really expected.  But I still enjoyed the ride, and couldn’t stop turning the pages.  Harlan Coben (LONG LOST, PLAY DEAD) writes very original, very relevant thrillers.  This is one that feels like it could happen to you.     

Rating: 8
April 2015
ISBN# 978-0-525-95350-0 (hardcover)


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