Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review of "Fool Me Once" by Harlan Coben

Flight instructor Maya Stern Burkett is anxious, sad, and distressed. Her sister Claire was tortured and murdered four months ago; her husband Joe was recently killed by muggers, almost right in front of her eyes; and she has recurring nightmares about a mission that went badly wrong half a year ago, when she was a special ops pilot in Iraq. To make things worse, some details of the mission have been exposed on a 'tell-all' internet site...and more damaging information might be coming out soon.

Still, Maya has her two-year-old daughter Lily to raise, helped by nanny Isabella - a woman whose relatives have worked for Joe Burkett's very rich family for generations. Concerned about Lily's welfare - and encouraged by a friend - Maya installs a nanny cam in her den. Upon checking the camera a few days later Maya is shocked to see a video of her (supposedly) dead husband playing with Lily. When Maya confronts Isabella with this clip the nanny promptly attacks her with pepper spray and runs off with the camera's memory card.

Maya isn't sure what to do. She could tell Detective Roger Kierce - who's investigating Joe's death - but he acts pushy and suspicious with Maya and she doesn't like him. So Maya decides to do her own inquiry. She soon learns that the same gun was used to kill both Claire and Joe; that Claire had a secret second cell phone; that a retired private detective has been on the Burkett payroll for decades; and that something bad happened at Joe's exclusive prep school many years ago. To top it off, Maya finds another dead body...which Detective Kierce thinks is REALLY fishy.

While all this is going on Maya enrolls Lily in a good daycare; visits with Joe's family - who have always viewed her as an outsider; enlists the help of her former army platoon mate Shane; questions persons of interest; visits a strip club; pulls down the pants of her niece's soccer coach - who doesn't abide by the rules (ha ha ha); is viciously attacked; and so on. Plenty of action and intrigue.

The book is a suspenseful page turner, and the unfolding events lead to a surprise climax. A problem I have with the book is that some 'secrets' unearthed by Claire would - in the real world - have come to light a long time ago. Moreover, several characters say and do things that are not credible. I understand the need for author's license in fiction but too many 'not believable' elements in a book bother me.

Still, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to mystery fans.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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