Stranger Danger: Scott Butki Reviews Harlan Coben’s THE STRANGER

the stranger harlan coben

Post by Scott Butki

You know that famous saying that there are a limited number of plots? Well, with his latest book, Harlan Coben, has just added one more to the list. We’ve all read books, especially thrillers, where a friend or family loved one turns into an enemy and you fight for your life. See Gone Girl, etc, for that plot-line.

Or those books where protagonists are fighting their enemy, adversary, nemesis; be it Sherlock versus Moriarty, Americans fighting Russian leaders in the 80s, or, more recently, those same Americans fighting Middle Eastern terrorists. In both cases plot-lines often involve plot twists which regularly involve secrets.

Coben, in his new book, The Stranger, explores another concept: What if strangers approached you and, without any obvious motivation, told you something about your daughter and/or wife that just destroys you and,potentially, your family? As the book kicks off, the protagonist, Adam Price, is approached by a stranger who tells him that his wife used a website to fake a pregnancy. When he asks her about it she essentially disappears. Meanwhile, a mother is told a completely different secret about her daughter that is similarly shocking and destructive to their family.

Who are these strangers and why are they sharing these secrets? Not since viewing Alfred Hitchcock’s classic noir Strangers On A Train, based on the Patricia Highsmith book of the same name, have I been so wary of strangers. Stranger Danger indeed! I don’t want to say more for fear of giving up spoilers.

I am embarrassed to admit, given that I read about 50 books a year and do at least 15 interviews of authors a year (indexed here), that The Stranger is the first Harlan Coben book I have read. Given how strong and engaging I found the plot-line to be, I will soon be reading more by him.


Harlan Coben comes to BookPeople Thursday, March 26, at 7 PM on BookPeople’s second floor. Mr. Coben will be speaking and signing his latest oh-so-chilling thriller,The Stranger. All BookPeople events are free and open to the public. You must purchase a copy of the book in order to join the signing line. Copies of The Stranger are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

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