Book review: Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

Thursday, April 7, 2016 Permalink

I’m always excited to see new releases from my favourite authors so the arrival of Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben was a cause for celebration – and for some shuffling of my ‘TBR’ list so I could get to it as soon as possible.

And although it’s a great read – as Coben’s novels always are – I was a tad disappointed by what eventuated this time around.

Book review: Fool Me Once by Harlan CobenFool Me Once
by Harlan Coben
Published by Century, Random House UK
on March 24th 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1780894198, 9781780894195
Pages: 400

Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier.

The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: Can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to?

To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself.

We meet Maya at her husband Joe’s funeral and quickly learn the circumstances of his death.

Police investigating Joe’s death seem to be satisfied it was a robbery-gone-wrong; but Maya nurses some guilt as she confessed to running away from the shooters to seek help, rather than staying with her dying husband.

Maya is a military training officer, having left the Special Ops Aviation Unit (where she piloted a helicopter) in difficult circumstances after an incident in the Middle East.

Maya’s tough but recently had to  endure the death of her beloved sister Claire in a home invasion, just weeks before her husband’s murder.

Joe’s from a wealthy family and his mother and siblings are supportive of Maya and keen to remain close to her and her 2yr old daughter Lily.

However, the glimpse of someone who ‘could’ be her husband on a hidden camera has Maya questioning events of recent weeks.

And then it seems there’s a link between her sister’s murder and that of her husband.

This latest offering from Coben spans 400 pages but I easily devoured it in a sitting.

I’ve read a few books over the past year or so in which the husband’s assumed dead, but not. However… Fool Me Once offers a different twist to that tale.

There are a few active threads in this book as readers are offered access to the events of Maya’s work (and downfall) in the Middle East and exposure by a Wiki-leaks style whistleblower.

And then there’s the potential financial corruption at Joe’s family’s company – which also employed Claire.

Coben offers twist upon twist and I didn’t suspect what eventuated. I’d actually be surprised if anyone would /could guess what ultimately takes place. I should have been happy. It offered closure. But… it felt unsatisfactory. And just not just. If you know what I mean.

Coben also added an epilogue (20yrs on) which made little sense to me… in fact I found it annoying!

It meant I tried to work out what year it would be (which was a distraction). I think the same resolution could have been achieved by flipping forward just a few months or even a year.

Despite that I still enjoyed this novel. It’s not my favourite of Coben’s, but it’s well written, fast paced and will certainly keep readers guessing.

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben was released by Penguin Random House UK in late March 2016.

Check out the book’s trailer:

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

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    April 8, 2016

    I don’t know how you can read a book so quickly! It sounds like a good read and you’ve intrigued me. I don’t think I’d like reading about Maya’s job though. I find that stuff boring. And the epilogue does sound a strange inclusion.

    • Debbish
      April 9, 2016

      We only learn about Maya’s job through some explanations. One of her former colleagues pops up a few times in the novel and the Wikileaks guy plays a role. I guess the latter offers up a contemporary feel… as it touches on ‘what’ should be revealed – whether it serves a purpose and is in the public’s best interest. As an aside, I was always a bit confused about exactly what it was Maya did ‘wrong’ in the Middle East as it was all a bit murky for me and I kept thinking there was going to have been some mistake, but I liked the Coben didn’t shy away from basically giving us a heroine who’d previously stuffed up and admitted it.

  • Mel Kettle
    April 11, 2016

    I just finished this book – deliberately read it really slowly over a few days as I’m a huge fan, however I was supremely disappointed with the ending. And yes, WTF was that 20 years later bit? Sigh.

    • Debbish
      April 11, 2016

      I know! (And glad it wasn’t just me!) I got slightly sidetracked wondering what year it was and if they travelled in flying cars! Unnecessary and kinda tainted the whole book for me a bit.

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