You’ve watched The Stranger on Netflix, you’ve maybe binged Safe and The Five as well and now you’re wondering which one of Harlan Coben’s books would be a great place to start.
Harlan Coben is one of my favourite authors and his TV adaptations are just as brilliant. His writing is fast paced, keeps you on the edge of your seat and you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next or who just might turn out not to be as trustworthy as you think.
When I pick up his books it always feels as though you’re in the hands of a real master. There are a few other authors I feel the same way about – Linwood Barclay and Robert Goddard included – and maybe I’ll do a list of their books for when you’ve exhausted Harlan Coben’s books.
Last week my eldest son, 19, told me he’d binged The Stranger in one day. He actually messaged me to tell me I should watch it (a bit late) so I suggested he pick up one of the books and, even though he never reads novels, he’s decided he will and asked me where to start. Since then I’ve discovered people who’ve watched The Stranger but have no idea who Harlan Coben is so I thought a blog setting out my favourites would be a good idea. Here are my favourites (some lumped together because they’re in a series).
- Tell No One. This was the first of Harlan Coben’s books that I ever read and I know I’m not the only one who thinks of it as his masterpiece. I have read it three times and I’ll go back to it again this year. The story: Eight years ago David Beck’s wife died in an attack that left him knocked unconscious. But a mysterious message in his inbox tells him to log on to a website at a specific time and he sees an image of his dead wife. It leads to a fantastic story as David tries to find out what really happened the night his wife died.
- Gone For Good. I loved this story too. Will Klein’s brother, Ken, is the prime suspect in the murder of Will’s former girlfriend. Eleven years have passed and everyone has assumed Ken is dead. But Will has always believed in his brother’s innocence and now he has found evidence that Ken is still alive.
- Six Years. This is a more recent offering from Coben. Six years ago Jake Fisher watched the love of his life marry another man. Since then he has kept his promise to leave her alone but when he spots her husband’s obituary Jake can’t help but attend to catch a glimpse of her. Except that the widow is not Natalie. Can you see a theme developing here?
- The Mickey Bolitar series. Mickey Bolitar is the nephew of Coben’s sports agent turned investigator Myron Bolitar and you probably should read the Myron series of books first. You’ll meet Windsor Horne Lockwood III, Myron’s friend and is one of the best characters ever created. But the Mickey Bolitar books are such a joy and I love them far more than the Myron books. The first one is Shelter and it’s a great story.
- Just One Look is another of Harlan Coben’s standalone novels and this one starts with such an innocent idea. A woman takes home photos printed and collected from the store to discover one of those is not hers. Suddenly her family is plunged into danger and the story takes you on an emotional rollercoaster of a tale.
Those would be my recommendations to start with and then you have a wealth of wonderful stories to dip into if you’ve never ready any of his books before. I envy you discovering his books for the first time.
Have fun and tell me which was or is your favourite too.