Book review: The Match by Harlan Coben

Tuesday, March 22, 2022 Permalink

The Match by Harlan Coben is billed as Wilde #2. I was a smidge confused by this as I could not recall a ‘Wilde’ #1. I then realised I’d missed The Boy From the Woods so came into this without any backstory. And it didn’t matter at all.

Initially I thought it was going to be reminiscent of Linwood Barclay’s Find You First, which featured someone picking off family members with related DNA (discovered through an ancestry match type place). Happily however the DNA matches aren’t really the tipping point here, rather what brings Wilde into the mix.

Book review: The Match by Harlan CobenThe Match
by Harlan Coben
Published by Century
on 16/03/2022
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1529135494
Pages: 343

Wilde has grown up knowing nothing of his family, and even less about his own identity . All he knows is that, as a young child, he was found living a feral existence in the Ramapo mountains of New Jersey.
He became known simply as Wilde, the boy from the woods.

Now Wilde has had a hit on the DNA website he has been researching. A 100% match. His father. They meet up, and Wilde soon realises that his father doesn't even know he had a son and is as mystified as Wilde is by his existence.

Undaunted, Wilde continues his research for his family on DNA websites where he becomes caught up in a community of online doxxers, a secret group committed to exposing anonymous trolls.

Then one by one these doxxers start to die, and it soon becomes clear that a serial killer is targeting this secret community - and that his next victim might be Wilde himself ...

It’s one of the DNA matches here that sets Wilde on the path of a missing relative and gets him embroiled in a world far removed from his own – that of reality TV and influencers and online / social media bullying and trolls.

Interestingly though the novel opens with Wilde tracking down his father, we don’t revisit that subject until much later. Instead it’s the match to a more-distant relative (Peter) that becomes the focus of this story – or rather Peter’s disappearance.

As usual there are several threads to be unpicked. In addition to Wilde’s narration we’re thrust into the work of Boomerang, where we (re) meet ‘The Stranger…’ who I’m assuming is the same person we meet in Coben’s earlier book, The Stranger. Unfortunately my review doesn’t offer up spoilers and I regret that because I’m trying to recall how it differed from the Netflix show of the same name (in which The Stranger was female).

Anyhoo… the members of Boomerang are there to right wrongs and they cross paths with Wilde when he discovers the murder of an online troll – with links to Peter. It could become a little confusing – given the layers of the plot and the fact we seem to have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ vigilantes but kept guessing if they’re one and the same or a rogue element… or something else entirely.

At the heart of this novel is the question of what exactly happened to Peter and why. But then of course there’s the 35 year old mystery of how the-child-now-man-known-as-Wilde came to be alone in the woods. A topic we circle back to at the end of this novel and Coben sets up the next in the series as Wilde learns more about his past. I can only assume he’ll pursue those who were – ahem – ‘involved’ and pursue them rather than have others live in fear.

As usual Coben’s writing makes reading effortless and the pacing of this novel will keep (even) someone with a goldfish-like attention span engaged. Though the plots on offer link in kinda complex ways they’re not confusing and of course he’s left some unanswered questions until next time*.

The Match by Harlan Coben was published in Australia by Penguin Random House and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 

* For those who’ve read (will read) this I didn’t quite get the photograph reference at the end.


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