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25 April 2015

Harlen Coben: The Stranger

"Do you really think anything is truly a secret?"
One day a "Stranger" approaches Adam Price at a school sports meeting and tells him that his wife faked a recent pregnancy and miscarriage to keep him from leaving. He also speculates that Adam might want to check the DNA of his sons to prove that he is really the father.

Adam's world is turned upside down when he finds that his wife has purchased something from a website called Fake-A-Pregnancy.com. He confronts his wife who asks for time to think about a response - then she disappears.  The Stranger then tells someone else unpleasant things about how a family member is financing her college fees that has a serious impact on that person's life.

The story develops as the impacts of the Stranger's activity unravel and have more serious and complex consequences than anyone could envisage.

While the plot is fascinating the writing and the setting didn't grip me. I put the book down several times and moved over to other books that took my attention before eventually getting to the half-way point when the implications of the various revelations started to unravel and become more interesting. I think part of the reason for my lack of connection is that the US setting in a society absorbed in living the dream, especially in the competitive field of college sports is foreign to me as an Aussie.

I have read and enjoyed most of the the last few of Coben's annual mysteries, but this one didn't rank as highly as the others.

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