Author: Harlan Coben
Published: 2016 by Century (Penguin Random House)
Find it at: Flipkart
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Mystery
My Rating: 4.5/5
You think you know the truth. The truth is you know nothing.
If your husband was murdered,
And you were a witness,
How do you explain, seeing him on your nanny cam?
You thought you trusted him.
Now you can't even trust yourself.
Dark secrets and a terrifying hunt for the truth lie at the heart of this gripping new thriller.
It was the blurb that had me inclined to read this book. I hadn't read any book by Harlan Coben before, but after reading Fool Me Once, I'm sure I'll read some more of Coben. Fool Me Once is a thrilling read, a book full of suspense, complicated twists and turns, and mind-boggling answers.
It opens with Joe’s funeral. Maya was there when Joe died, so how can Maya possibly explain having seen Joe on the nanny cam she installed after Joe's death? It is one of those freaky moments when you need to pause and gasp for breath because you can't understand how it could possibly be! (Even though it wasn't really a "surprise" twist.) What follows is Maya's search for the truth. She collects all possible information, follows the leads, manages being questioned by the detectives, and goes around in search of answers, while trying to make sure her two-year-old daughter is safe. What complicates matters is her own past in the military, which looks like a big enough reason to cause catastrophic events and wreaks havoc in her (and the readers') mind.
Following Maya's story soon turns into a chase with many clues but also many assumptions. The narrative is in third person, written in an easy-to-follow style. The sentences are simple and short (which is something I've seen is used a lot in thrillers). The characters used in the story have not been explored in detail, so I couldn't really connect with anyone much, let alone figure out who could have carried out the murders. It does become a bit complex in the later half of the book, when I felt “unintelligent” because it was hard to follow. But that only makes it guarantee a re-read. The twists and turn follow you to the end. There isn't a moment when something isn't happening.
I liked how the story had a female lead character with a military past, and who's struggling with a civilian life. It was good to gain insight about what makes the ex-military live their lives differently, how, when they look at things with a suspicious perspective, it's not just paranoia or after-effects of shock or trauma. It could just be a part of their nature.
I did feel sometimes that the descriptions lacked balance—some parts were explained unnecessarily, while some were left too early. The story has multiple layers of mystery. You could sit back and think about how one thing led to another, if you went back all the way and "connected the dots". Like with an unnerving number of books, I didn't feel enthusiastic about the ending. It wasn't exactly "wrong" but it also wasn't the only way.
Some things also made little sense to me. I won't go into the "why"s of characters' actions, because it is human to make errors of judgment due to emotions. I'm going to let those inconsistencies get away. I could write more if I dug deeper for flaws, but I'm not going to. I liked reading this. It made me feel things. I read it my way through work, through travelling, and through the night. Not all books make you do that.
Fool Me Once is a gripping and compelling page-turner. It has the ability to turn your head, mostly because you don't want to stop reading. It just STAYS in your head all the while you're not reading. It was impossible to keep the book down. I ended up sneakily reading it while at work. It has a good story, good plot twists, and good suspense. Though it has some flaws, Fool Me Once is a great fix for thrills.
Some quotes that I liked:
“When you can see the stakes, when you realize the true purpose of your mission, it motivates you. It makes you focus. It makes you push away the distractions. You gain clarity of purpose. You gain strength.”
“Your fellow soldiers had to know that you had their back. That was rule one, lesson one, and above all else. If the enemy goes after you, he goes after me too.”