Book Review: Fool Me Once – Harlan Coben

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Published: 24th March 2016 (Cornerstone, Random House UK)Fool Me Once Harlan Coben


If your husband was murdered,
And you were a witness,
How do you explain it when he appears on your nanny cam?
You thought you trusted him.
Now you can’t even trust yourself.

Dark secrets and a terrifying hunt for the truth lie at the heart of this gripping new thriller.

I honestly do not know where to start with this review as this book was fantastic! So much so, I read it pretty much in one sitting. Fool Me Once opens with the funeral of Joe Burkett, whilst the narrative is told in the third person, it also provides an insight to how Maya, Joe’s widow, is feeling and the thoughts that are going through her mind. The reader is also introduced to the other members of Joe’s family; his mother Judith and his siblings, Caroline and Neil, as well as Maya and Joe’s two-year-old daughter, Lily. Whilst the funeral and Joe’s interment are being conducted, the reader also finds out how Joe died through Maya’s flashbacks.

Maya is a retired army Captain and, following an honorable discharge (the reason for which is not yet evident), is still involved in the military, responsible for teaching new recruits. Joe came from a wealthy family, which is at odds with Maya’s upbringing but she was swept up in the romance with Joe. It is obvious that, despite being Joe’s widow, Maya is still an outsider as she has married into the Burkett family.

Alongside the death of her husband, Maya is also mourning the death of her sister, Claire, who was murdered 4 months earlier whilst Maya was on tour and out of the country. Claire’s widower, Eddie, is struggling after her death to look after himself and their 2 children, Daniel and Alexa.

Lily has a nanny, Isabella, who is the daughter of nanny who cared for Joe, and is part of the Burkett staff. Maya isn’t particularly happy with this situation and is encouraged by her friend, Elaine to install a ‘nanny-cam’ because Maya trusts no one. It is through this nanny-cam that Maya witnesses her dead husband playing with Lily whilst Maya is at work and this sparks off a hunt to find out what she really saw, is Joe a figment of her PTSD and flashbacks or is something more sinister afoot?

I really enjoyed this book and was drawn further into the secrets, amazed by the twists and turns weaved by Coben. Each time I thought I had the secrets worked out and knew who to trust, Coben would through in another curveball – throughout the book, I suspected everyone at some point!

Alongside the unravelling of secrets and the investigation into Joe’s death, we are also given an insight into PTSD and the effects that it has on retired military personnel and their families. The experiences that Maya is going through is described so vividly whilst maintaining sensitivity towards PTSD.

I liked the main characters; Maya, Shane (her trusted comrade and best friend) and Elaine, Maya and Claire’s good friend. Throughout the book, one thing that remains a constant is Maya trusting her instincts and her training. Shane helps Maya see things in a different way, talking through situations to try to make sense of them. The narrative is full of secrets, the ones that Joe had, that Claire was keeping and those that Maya is keeping from Shane.

The pace of this book is fantastic making it very hard to put down, I most definitely recommend this to thriller fans and I sure that Coben fans will not be disappointed!




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