By Harlan Coben, Genre: Mystery
Dutton 2015 – 386 pages
Adam Price was at the American Legion Hall for the draft of his son’s lacrosse league, at the bar with a Bud in his hand when his world was fractured. The Stranger approached him, telling him that his wife faked her pregnancy and miscarriage two years previously just to get him to stay in their marriage. As proof, he referred Price to verify Visa card charges to “Novelty Funsy.” It might be a good idea to run DNA tests on his two sons to see if they were actually his as well because his wife did lie to him. Twenty years of love and cohabitation with the beautiful woman he loved were instantaneously shadowed by the words of a young man in a baseball cap. Price’s world was altered forever.
After Corinne’s return from a teacher’s conference in Atlantic City, Adam confronts her with the information he has culled from the Visa card records and his digging into the Novelty Funsy site (which is actually fakeapregnancy.com). She promises to tell him more about the situation the next day. However, she disappears from school in the middle of the day, and sends him a text, “Maybe we need some time apart. You take care of the kids. Don’t try to contact me. It will be okay. Just give me a few days. Please.”
Of course that is not possible. The Stranger visits other people and within a few days, two women are tortured and murdered. Adam’s concern about his wife’s lack of communication, especially to their two sons, leads him deeper into the world of modern technology, as well as the nefariousworld of real-life criminals. Characteristic of Coben novels, just when the reader thinks she has it figured out, another person arrives on the scene and another incident occurs. They are all parts of the puzzle.
Once again, Coben delivers a great story packed to the hilt with credible characters and plot twists galore. Price is an attorney, his wife Corinne a teacher. They have the ideal suburban New Jersey existence – great house, two great sons, great careers, great friends, great marriage. Yet, one minute with a stranger at a bar throws all this into great question.
The perils of the internet and social media are at the core of The Stranger. The anonymity people are promised or feel at their keyboards while on websites or on social media is a mirage. Some of those sites can be downright dangerous. As with everything else in life, it all comes down to how the individual person utilizes those resources.
The author has taken his familiar New Jersey suburbia, laced it with modern technology and good old-fashioned story lines and plot twists and served up a mighty fine read. Coben fans are sure to not be disappointed. Indeed, no mystery fan could be disappointed by The Stranger. The path to the solution is truly serpentine.
Available at all vendors, including Collier County Public Library. Rating: 4.25/5.0.
Maggie Gust has been an avid reader all her life. Her past includes working as a teacher as well as various occupations in the health care field. She shares a hometown with Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, but Florida has been her home since 1993. Genealogy, walking on the beach, reading, movies and writing, are among her pursuits outside of work. She is self employed and works from her Naples home.