Harlan Coben (Hachette 2015; ISBN 9781409144649)
Harlan Coben’s book, The Stranger, drops us into the world of a middle class family whose biggest priority is a sports scholarship for their kids. The reader soon discovers that this perfect world of soccer moms and white picket fences is a veneer, when the Stranger reveals a secret to Adam, the main character of the story.
The internet and modern technology have weaved an insidious thread through Adam’s life, and his only choice is to embrace their use as a tool to fight back, as he struggles to protect his family from the fallout of the secret’s exposure.
The situation turns deadly, and Adam’s must find the Stranger before it’s too late.
Harlan uses middle class suburbia as a fishbowl in which to explore the purpose of human existence, and by the end of the novel the reader is uncomfortably aware that human motivations haven’t really changed since we were living in caves and bashing our prey – and each other – with sticks. The latest advances in communication technology are just another tool people use to play out their dramas, and no matter how much society advances, their desires and dreams remain saturated with primal emotions.
With Facebook now being cited in 30% of divorce cases, this book is the perfect opportunity to explore humanity’s struggle to find meaning in modern society.
All in all, Harlan Coben has achieved a well written novel with sophisticated characters that succeeds in combining a fast-paced plot with introspection on the philosophy of life.