My rating: 4 of 5 stars
'Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd.
But six years haven't come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd's obituary, he can't keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd's wife he's hoping for . . . but she is not Natalie. Whoever the mourning widow is, she's been married to Todd for more than a decade, and with that fact everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life - a time he has never gotten over - is turned completely inside out.
As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can't be found or don't remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years. Jake's search for the woman who broke his heart - and who lied to him - soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on carefully constructed fiction.'
The first Harlan Coben book I have read; the blurb was intriguing and I looked forward to the story unfolding. A very close tight read in that so much ground work had to be put in for the reader to connect with the story, that said it managed to keep me engaged.
The story opens with the narrator Jake Fisher attending the wedding of the woman he loves (Natalie) to Todd Saunders , straight away you want to know why she is marrying someone else and why she makes him promise to leave her alone. This first chapter is only 5 pages and forms the prologue to the book.
Chapter two opens up with the words Six Years later at the top and we see Jake learns of the death of Natalie's husband Todd in his college newsletter. Jake is now a college professor head of the political science department in Lanford College where he met and fell in love with Natalie six years previously. She was on an artist retreat while he was writing his political science dissertation.
Believing Natalie is now a widow and that he has kept his promise to leave her alone he embarks on a journey to find her again. Attending the funeral of Todd Saunders he is shocked to find that the widow is not Natalie and now he knows he must find her. From here on things become very complicated with people openly lying to him and red herrings everywhere. As the story grows Jake becomes obsessed with finding Natalie at any cost. He is warned to back off which makes him more determined to press on. He discovers that he can't trust anyone which builds the suspense effectively leading up to the climax of the book. Coben does not give anything away allowing the reader to discover answers at the same time as Jake.
A nice rounded off ending that was not necessarily expected and all loose ends were tied up well. A good balance of suspense and drama in this novel, the reader is kept dangling until the end and is rewarded with a satisfactory conclusion. Because character building in this busy novel could have been onerous and heavy I felt Coben handled it well with his use of flashbacks making it part of the story.
Overall I liked this novel, it was fast paced and had a good level of suspense and I would read another of Coben's novels based on this first read.
I would like to thank Weekend Reads for sending me this copy.
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