Steady-paced and Occasionally Annoying: A Review of The Stranger by Harlan Coben

I’m going to start this post with two disclaimers.

One, I’ve only read one other Harlan Coben book – Fool Me Once – and had thought that it had its moments but was average overall. Two, I picked up The Stranger only because I wanted to read it before deciding whether to watch the Netflix show that’s based on it (still thinking about that).

The main takeaway from The Stranger, for me, was the question: Are all Harlan Coben books average thrillers, or do some of them get mad exciting, unpredictable, and also more believable? Read on to know why I ask this question.

Harlan Coben The Stranger
Source: Goodreads

Genre:

Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Length: 

386 pages

Blurb:

Adam Price is living the American Dream with a big house, good job, beautiful wife, and two great sons. Until he meets The Stranger. The Stranger appears out of nowhere, and hands over undeniable information backed by proof to the people he targets. His reason is unknown. But the secret he reveals to Adam brings his marriage to Corinne, and his perfect life, to the edge of destruction. When he confronts his wife, she says little before disappearing. Adam’s hunt for Corinne and the truth puts him in the middle of startling events he can barely understand. Soon, Adam, The Stranger, and others affected by their actions are on the path of collision. Will Adam discover the truth and manage to survive it? Or will his moves cost him his marriage, his family, and even his life?

Overall Rating:

6 out of 10

Plot:

6 out of 10 (with 1 point of that being for the end)

Characterization:

4 out of 10

Primary Element:

5 out of 10 for its suspense

Writing Style:

8 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

No.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The twist at the end. It wasn’t exceptionally shocking but was quite entertaining.

What I Liked:

I really appreciate that, for the most part, Adam and Corinne were shown to be a normal couple, unlike the massively dysfunctional individuals that make up most ‘husband/wife has a secret’ books nowadays.

What I Didn’t Like:

The fact that the minute the secret was revealed, the entire basis and strength of Adam and Corinne’s relationship fell apart like a house of cards. I mean, c’mon! Is it that difficult to just speak to your spouse? Especially when you seemed to be having a normal conversation even in a confrontation before you decided to clam up just for the heck of it? The reason for said clam up is revealed later, but that does little to change the fact that it was an entire personality shift just for that moment, and just so that the story could move forward.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys the books that focus on family/spouse secrets (The Stranger is actually one of the better ones in that it is not made up of psycho people who act like dumbasses all the time for no reason). And anyone who enjoys steady-paced, mild-twists-holding suspense.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who’s expecting a story with major plot twists. If that’s what you’re looking for, you should probably pick up something else (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was really good in that regard).

Read It For:

A relatively intriguing, well-paced story that is ideal for when you don’t want anything too complicated, and when you’re not expecting too much either.

Did you like Harlan Coben’s The Stranger? Did you like its Netflix adaptation (i.e. Should I watch it)? Which is your favorite (twisty, suspenseful) Harlan Coben book? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

And as always… thanks for stopping by to read my review!

– Rishika