Harlan Coben is one of those authors whose books I will get as soon as they’re published, without fail. The day of publication is usually marked on my calendar as something to really look forward to. Reading the Harlan Coben books in order for his series, or reading the standalone books gives me great joy. I have to admit, though, his standalone novels always capture my attention way more than Myron Bolitar.
Whether updating his Myron Bolitar mystery series or bringing out yet another standalone psychological thriller novel, Harlan Coben knows to write in a way that captivates your attention from the start and only lets you go once you’ve savored the very last page.
In fact, I found myself catching myself thinking about his latest book even days after I’ve read it read it cover to cover.
This is also the case with his latest, Fool Me Once, a standalone thriller that let me once again yearning for more. Captain Maya Stern is a veteran, an ex-Army helicopter pilot who has a lot of baggage from her time in the war, struggling with a strong case of PTDS that she can’t shake.
When her sister Clare is killed, Maya is devastated. But when her husband is also murdered just 4 weeks after Clare, killed during a robbery attempt while Maya and Joe were taking a night stroll in the park, she almost loses it. And who can fault her for that?
This is why nobody believes her when she tells the story of how she saw – literally saw on the babycam – her husband hugging her daughter, Lilly. And that 2 weeks after her husband’s funeral.
Maya knows that her husband is dead – or maybe he faked his death? Unless someone is playing a mean trick on her? She soon realizes that she can’t trust anybody around her.
This is when she decides to take revenge and hunt down her husbands’ killer, if it’s the last thing she’ll ever do.
As usual with Harlan Coben books, the twists and turns are on every page and the herrings – oh the red herrings how they abound. And as gullible readers that we are, we buy it all hook, line and sinker, only to be rewarded with yet another weird twist until the plot reveal at the end literally sucks the punch out of you. I really don’t think anyone saw that one coming.
We accompanied Maya from the start to the very surprising end. We knew all her steps as soon as she took them. We knew her mind and what she was going through every step of the way. She is a very complex character who saw too much in the war and simply can’t shake what happened loose.
It is a character that left me deep in thought long after the book was finished. The big finale revealed something that I found disturbing, and could only associate with her PTDS. Else I couldn’t wrap my head around it. But still, the finale tied things together in a way that my new found knowledge about Maya made finally sense.
If there is one tiny criticism that I have about the book, it is this. I found myself several times while reading asking myself the question – what about Lilly. Who is watching her? The story was so focused on Maya that her daughter was literally shoved behind the curtains, which I found a pity.
Fool Me Once is one heck of a read, and now I have to wait till September for another Harlan Coben book, which is when the next Myron Bolitar novel comes out with the title Home. I can’t wait!