BOOK REVIEW: “Fool Me Once” by Harlan Coben

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A woman witnesses her husband shot and killed.  Now she sees her dead husband playing with their toddler.

Creepy, right?

Harlan Coben’s suspenseful tale Fool Me Once takes the reader through countless surprises. Former special ops pilot Maya Burkett faces many challenges: her husband Joe’s brutal murder, a military scandal, and PTSD.

Maya’s top priority right now is protecting her precious two-year old daughter Lily.

Unfortunately, a new problem emerges. A close friend gives Maya a nanny cam posed as a regular digital picture frame. Maya takes advantage of the camera and uncovers an eerie sight: Joe in the living room with Lily.

After the discovery, Maya interrogates her nanny Isabella on Joe’s whereabouts. Isabella’s response: pepper-spray to the face!

Maya recovers from the incident and finds the nanny cam’s SD card missing.

The deeper Maya searches for answers about her “late” husband, the more she thinks twice about the friends and family she thought she could trust. Even worse, police have revealed to Maya the bullet that killed Joe comes from the same gun that killed her sister Claire years earlier.

Now, Maya must solve how her loved ones’ deaths are connected.

What else could go wrong?

Frustratingly Good Obstacles

 This book can be upsetting in a good way. Every time Maya gets close to retrieving a valuable tip, an irritable character blocks her path.

I literally gritted my teeth when Isabella had the nerve to lie to Maya about Joe. She knew something was up! Maya saw her on camera the same time as Joe appeared. Maya wasn’t delusional.

Secondly, family repeatedly remind Maya of her PTSD. A psychiatrist or two keep showing up as help when they’re only hindering Maya’s progress solving Joe’s whereabouts.

I feel for Maya’s annoyance at the issue. If only Isabella didn’t steal the SD card, people would’ve understand Maya better.

War sucks.

Maya’s horrid past in the battlefield haunts her over the course of this novel. Receiving news of Claire’s death while overseas was more salt added to Maya’s mental wounds. She has recovered much from the past, but occasionally suffers minor stress-related episodes.

Lastly, there’s Detective Kierce assigned to Joe’s murder case. Supposedly helping Maya, he always shows up whenever she takes one misstep on her own mission. Maya doesn’t trust him or his suspicious interrogations. The last thing she wants is to land in the criminal’s hot seat.

The infuriating characters in this book are part of what makes this story great. The best stories are the ones with consistently conflicted characters and forever offending antagonists.

Conclusion

It’s been a while since I’ve read any suspense novels. Fool Me Once was a fresh morning coffee of thrills. It’s not the greatest cup in the world, but it kept me going. The book lacks the action I’ve expected from a suspense novel, but the last-minute twists made up for it.

Books I’ve Read Similar to Fool Me Once

Feel free to comment below if you’ve read this book or have any recommendations! ^_^

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BOOK REVIEW: “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (Amazon) (Goodreads)

Beautiful British model Lula Landry is found dead outside of her flat. The police states she has committed suicide.

P.I. Cormoran Strike, with the help of his (temporary) secretary Robin Ellacott, tracks down the real cause of the famed model’s death after a worrisome client believes she was murdered. This case could really turn Strike’s life around. After losing his leg in the war of Afghanistan, breaking up with his long-time girlfriend, and barely living in his own office, he needs the work.

I almost gave up reading The Cuckoo’s Calling. The book initially started out with a bang with the discovery of Lula’s body then it went downhill to a tortuous series  of repeatable episodes with Strike running around London asking people about Lula’s death with recycled information the reader already knows.

Plus, I felt terrible for Strike. He lived this pitiful life living in his office and people were coming to his door for money he didn’t have. Not that a P.I’s life is supposed to be glamorous but geez!

Everything turned out for the better. I enjoyed the diverse characters and the developing storyline. I suppose I’m so used to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series I was expecting so much more. This is her writing from a new angle.  It’s interesting to see Rowling expanding her writing into new territories.

If you know J.K. Rowling and you’re curious about her works outside the magical realm of Harry Potter, give this book a try. However, I warn you not to chuck the book out of the window when you read the first chapters. Believe me, it gets better. By the ending of this book, I was ready to read book #2: The Silkworm. I’m quite sure it  gets better than this.

Have you read The Cuckoo’s Calling?

Did you want to pull your hair out or did you cuddle with the book on a fur rug by the roaring fireplace? Feel free to share your thoughts.