Wednesday 18 March 2020

The Boy From The Woods by Harlan Coben @HarlanCoben @arrowpublishing @charlottebush2 #TheBoyFromTheWoods #BookReview

Lies are dangerous.

But the truth could kill him.

His name is Wilde.

Thirty years ago he was found in the New Jersey backwoods with no idea of how he'd got there or what had happened to his family.

Now a decorated former soldier, he still prefers to live outdoors, alone.

But when a local girl goes missing, Wilde is asked to use his unique skills to find her.

To do so he must return to a community where he has never fitted in, where the powerful are protected even when they are keeping secrets.

Dangerous secrets that can kill.

And which Wilde must expose before it's too late ...

The Boy From The Woods by Harlan Coben is published by Century in hardback on 19 March 2020. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Like millions of other people here in the UK, I was addicted to the Netflix adaptation of Harlan Coben's The Stranger earlier this year. Despite the fact that the author is so prolific, and I'd actually met him at a Crime Fiction Festival, I've never actually read one of his books before. #Shamed

The Boy From The Woods begins with an article from the North Jersey Gazette, dated April 1986 and tells of a small boy found living in the Ramapo Mountain State Forest, on his own.
Nobody knows how long he's been there and he has no memory of any adults. It's a complete and utter mystery.

Fast forward to 2020, and that boy - now a man called Wilde is still living in the woods, albeit in his own eco-house, and not in a tattered tent.  Over the years, since he was discovered, he's achieved many things; a career in the military and now an interest in security. He is still drawn to the woods though and long-term relationships are hard for him.  His oldest friend David died in a road accident and he looks out for David's widow and son Matthew.

David's mother Hester Crimstein is a well-known lawyer and TV personality. She's in her seventies, completely and utterly honest, abides by the law to the letter but will use her many contacts to ensure that justice is done.

The story begins as a 'missing girl' mystery.  Naomi Pine, a classmate of Matthew hasn't been in school for days. Naomi has a tough life, not only is she the victim of incessant bullying at school, led by Crash Maynard, the son of wealthy TV producer Dash and his wife Delia, she also lives with a father who prefers alcohol to her.
Matthew Crimstein is worried for Naomi and alerts Hester to her disappearance. He's cautious about how much he will give away though as he teeters on the edge of the cool crowd at school; he struggles with what happens to Naomi, but doesn't actually do anything to try to stop it.

Oh my goodness!  What a complex and multi layered story this is. Naomi disappears, she is found, and then she disappears again.
Crash Maynard disappears.

Hester and Will team up to investigate what's going on and by doing so they uncover corruption and secrets at the highest possible level. What starts as a regular 'missing kid' enquiry turns into a compelling and absolutely breath-taking tale of political power and just how far some people will go to protect their reputation.

Coben's character creation is superb. Both Wilde and Hester are a joy to discover and each one of the supporting cast are equally well crafted. Wilde is enigmatic, secretive and mysterious whilst Hester is down-to-earth, funny, warm and absolutely holds her own in every situation.
From the local cop to the macho security guards; every single one is perfectly produced.

Towards the end of the story there's some dialogue that is jaw-dropping in how frightening it is. Coben talks about the manipulation of social media, and the use of bots to both minimise damage and to destruct lives. It is sobering stuff and I read those pages over and over, realising that this really is not fiction at all.

The Boy From The Woods is a fabulous read, I devoured it. It's pacy and thrilling, filled with fabulous characters and a plot that is unrelenting.  I now know just why Coben is at the top of his field.  Highly recommended from me.

With more than seventy million books in print worldwide. Harlan Coben is the worldwide number 1 bestselling author of numerous thrillers, including Don't Let Go, Run Away, Home, and Fool Me Once, as well as the multi-award -winning Myron Bolitar series. His books are published in forty-three languages around the globe and are bestsellers in more than a dozen countries.

Coben is also the creator and executive producer of many television shows, including the Netflix Original drams The Stranger starring Richard Armitage, Stephen Rea and Jennifer Saunders, and the critically acclaimed Netflix Original Drama Safe starring Michael C Hall.

Coben is currently developing 14 projects including Run Away, with Netflix in the US and internationally.

He lives in New Jersey.


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