- 26 Mar 20
Premium Page Turner For The Housebound.
Even if you're new to his books, chances are you’ve been exposed to some of Harlan Coben’s work recently, given that we’re all staying at home that bit more, and are probably scouring the likes of Netflix for something that might help pass the time. Let me recommend to you, as my daughter recommended it to me, The Stranger, a properly entertaining mystery thriller series, the finishing of which had me up past my bedtime. It’s based on Coben’s 2015 novel of the same name, offering proof – not that anyone who has rifled through his Myron or Mickey Bolitar yarns would require it – that the man from New Jersey knows his way around a story.
In The Boy From The Woods, the main character is Wilde - by name and by nature - or at least that’s what people have taken to calling him since he was found in the woods as a child, how he got there having never been discovered. Taken in and fostered by some good folks, he eventually joins the army and then sets up a security service with his foster sister, but Wilde can’t stick at it. He’s now helping people out on a case-by-case basis. Growing up in the woods has heightened his senses, and being in possession of the instincts that those of us unfortunate to grow up in normal surroundings didn’t develop has given him something akin to mild superpowers. On top of that, if you’ll excuse the pun, the ladies seem to find him irresistible. Social realism this isn't, and thank God for that. We've enough of the real world on the news.
A girl from the same class as Wilde’s godson Matthew has gone missing and the boy enlists his godfather's help. The girl, Naomi, is a bit of a social outcast and it’s fairly obvious from the get-go that Matthew knows more than he’s letting on. Cue the introduction of his grandmother, Hester. She’s a high-powered TV attorney – of course she is – who gets involved with the case in the most blatant of ways. Hester’s son - and Matthew's dad - David was Wilde’s best friend before he died in a tragic car accident.
Wilde’s woodland ways get Matthew out of a jam at the very-well appointed house of school bully/asshole Crash, son of Dash – really – Maynard, a fabulously wealthy TV producer, and the plot thickens for there on out. A close friend of the Maynards, Rusty Eggers is a former reality TV star with an eye on the White House – who could Coben be referring to here? – and his odious presence and murky past squat at the heart of this affair.
Eagle-eyed readers might be able to discern who's up to no good before their reveal but that’s not to take anything away from Coben’s way with a typewriter. The sub-plots keep things ticking over – the burgeoning love story between Hester and local sheriff Oren Carmichael is particularly well handled – and there are several twists and turns to keep the eyes moving. I pretty much devoured this in one sitting, it being exactly the kind of entertaining and distracting fare that is needed now more than ever.