Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Harlan Coben is the master of the standalone thriller novel.
Coben knows how to keep you guessing all the way until the end – and then just as you think you have it figured out, he hits you with one final test to leave you reeling for days.
I’ve read every Coben novel – including his Myron Bolitar series – multiple times. For me, a good thriller author isn’t someone who writes a good twist – it’s someone whose work you can re-read, even if you already know how it all ends up. And I find I’m able to do that with Cobens novels with ease.
It’s difficult, but I’ve compiled a list of what I feel are the best 5 Harlan Coben novels:
#5: Missing You
NYPD Detective Kat Donovan is on an online dating site and she notices Jeff, her ex-fiancee, on the site. She trys to contact him but it doesn’t work out. However then she is called to investigate a case where another woman is getting fleeced from this same dating site…and it appears it’s by her ex. Coben does a great job writing a strong female protagonist and has the usual story that will keep you guessing – but with twists that in retrospect always make sense.
#4: Just One Look
This was one where I love the idea and premise more than the story itself – although it’s still a great one. A regular mom, Grace Lawson picks up a newly developed set of photographs from the store only to find a random one that doesn’t belong featuring 4 people who she can’t identify. Her husband sees this random picture – and then promptly leaves the house, gets in his car and disappears. This is one that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
#3: The Woods
This is an excellent novel by Coben. I think anything dealing with events in the past is where he shines. In this one, it’s based on an event 20 years ago where Paul Copeland’s sister was killed in the woods by an apparent serial killer as were 3 other people. However her body was never discovered. 20 years later, Paul is an Essex County prosecutor called to the morgue to identify a dead man. He recognizes the dead man – it’s one of the people who had apparently died 20 years ago in the woods. If he is alive – could his sister be too?
#2: Tell No One
David Becks wife died 8 years ago. At least, that’s what he was told. Then there’s a message he receives on his computer and a phrase is within the message. That phrase? It’s something only his wife would know. And it links him to a video that shows a woman – a woman who looks exactly like his wife. Is she still alive? And what happened on that night 8 years ago?
#1: Gone for Good
11 years ago, Will Kleins girlfriend is discovered murdered in their basement. The apparent murderer? His brother and hero Ken Klein. However as the evidence against him mounts up, Ken vanishes. 11 years later, Will finds out that Ken is still alive and attempts to find out what happened on that night. This is without a doubt my favourite Coben standalone and I’d advise reading it immediately.
See the full list of Harlan Coben Books in Order.