FOOL ME ONCE by Harlan Coben

fool me onceRetired U.S. Army Capt. Maya Stern Burkett has had a hellacious time of it since her return from Kuwait. While she was given an honorable discharge, her days as an army helicopter pilot were over after a snafu involving her killing civilians, including children. Whistle blower Corey Rudzinski released video of the assault but not the audio, and Maya is waiting for the other shoe to drop – and it’s not going to be pretty.

Maya is suffering from PTSD, which manifests itself into audio hallucinations – basically, she keeps replaying that night over and over, especially when she tries to sleep. She can’t stop the screaming in her head, and it really upsets her two year old daughter.

And that was just the beginning of the bad news. While Maya was out of the country, her sister Claire was murdered. A few months later, after she gets home, her husband Joe is killed in a Central Park mugging which Maya barely escapes.

Maya’s best friend gives her a nanny cam and a few days later she is watching the video and sees her daughter climbing onto Joe’s lap. Her dead husband Joe. She confronts the nanny, who denies seeing anything on the video, gives Maya a face full of pepper spray, steals the memory card with the video and disappears.

Meanwhile, Joe’s family is acting a little odd and her sister-in-law tells her that the family is paying off the detective investigating Joe’s murder. Maya decides to investigate on her own, and things really start spiraling out of control – or so it seems.

This standalone is Coben at his best, moving the story along at a breakneck pace, leading the reader on a terrific romp up to the incredible, shocking ending. I loved it.

3/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FOOL ME ONCE by Harlan Coben. Dutton (March 22, 2016).  ISBN 978-0525955092. 400p.




One of the most prolific authors of constantly challenging fiction is Harlan Coben. Fool Me Once is another of those books that catch the reader at the onset and never lets him or her go. Maya Stern was a captain, a special ops pilot in the army, and saw action in a combat zone. She met her future husband Joe Burkett while on leave and never returned to the military.

The novel opens at Joe’s funeral. He has been killed while with Maya at Central Park in New York; seemingly during a robbery gone sour. The police investigating the crime and apparently picking up the probable killers have put closure to the case, but Maya is sure that these men are not guilty of the murder. She decides to handle her own investigation, but two weeks after Joe’s funeral she sees him walking about on a tape taken from a nanny cam used to watch her two year old daughter while cared for by her housekeeper.

The shock of seeing Joe still alive and walking around their house galvanizes her into wondering what is the truth of her husband’s murder. And secondly what is the connection if any, with Joe’s death: the murder of Maya’s sister and 17 years ago the accidental drowning of Joe’s brother while on a boat trip in the Caribbean.

Coben again proves himself an expert in providing one scenario after another, leading the reader to one set of conclusions and then yanking these away for another set of facts. The ending is not telegraphed at all but one that is logical and a result of everything established. An extremely mesmerizing read, one that is completely stand alone and will continue to allow readers to constantly look for Harlan Coben’s books.

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