Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Not too sure what to think about this book after THAT ending. I was fully prepared to give it three stars as a kind of average thriller but now I’m not so sure. I can’t decide if I loved the ending or hated it but it was definitely unexpected and the author certainly fooled me at least once.
It’s worth a read for that alone.
The story starts with former special ops pilot Maya and her 2 year old daughter at the funeral of her husband Joe. Joe was murdered two weeks ago in front of Maya. This is the second tragedy in Maya’s life as her sister was also killed around 4 months ago. Feeling a little bit vulnerable she agrees to install a nanny cam in her home to keep an eye on her daughter while she works. A few days later though she sees something she really doesn’t expect, her daughter sitting on the lap of her husband. It’s not possible or is it? She knows if she tells anyone they’ll think she’s crazy so she starts her own investigation.
I’ve read a few Harlan Coben books in the past (my Dad is a big fan) and found them to be pretty enjoyable although not necessarily stand out reads. When I saw the title and read the blurb for this one though I couldn’t wait to get me hands on it.
Pretty much from the start of this story I wasn’t too sure what to think about it and this feeling continued throughout. It’s an interesting idea, a supposedly dead man shows up on a nanny cam, did he fake his death somehow, is someone playing a game with Maya or is she really just crazy? For some reason however it didn’t quite work for me. There were quite a few things that just seemed a bit odd. The very first one being the way Maya is given a nanny cam by her best friend on the day of the funeral. It just seemed strange in terms of timing but also as the nanny had been working for them for a while and had a connection to the family.
The other thing that bothered me was Maya herself. Following a controversial incident from her service she’s somewhat infamous and is suffering from PTSD. She seems to miss being at war and is uncomfortable in regular life, only really relaxing when she’s at the gun range. While I couldn’t relate to her as a character what bothered me was that she seemed unaffected by everything. She doesn’t seem overly fussed about the fact her husband has been murdered and has a slightly strange relationship with her daughter. She wants to protect her but doesn’t seem to want to spend any time with her, preferring to pass her off to someone else whenever she can. A lot of her actions are a little on the odd side (the way she deals with her niece’s soccer coach springs to mind) and her reactions were a bit disturbing.
The other characters did seem like they could be interesting but I didn’t feel like they got enough attention. I would have liked to have seen a lot more of Shane, her former squad mate, as he seemed like an interesting character and his relationship with Maya was fascinating to read.
The story itself is quite twisty and does keep you guessing although at times I felt like the timing was a little bit off with too much time spent on certain aspects and not enough on others. There are a couple of subplots which I didn’t think added much to the story and I kind of skipped over a little. I will say though the author did manage to fool me and when the ending came it was certainly spectacular and somehow very emotional. It almost made up for the rest of the story and it certainly explained a lot.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a copy.