- 21 Mar 22
More Wilde Adventures
He may be almost as well-known these days for his involvement in streaming whodunnits like Stay Close and The Stranger but Harlan Coben’s book bound thrillers are always a delight. When this arrived in the post, I shoved all the coming-of-age tomes, the collections of short stories, and the “serious” novels off the desk because I knew, before I even opened it, that The Match would be the kind of page-turner that would have you dodging phone calls, ignoring the doorbell, and going without sleep, and I was right.
Even better to discover that this is a sequel of sorts to 2020’s The Boy From The Woods, so we get to spend some more time with Wilde – named because he was found living in the woods as a child, and no one came forward to claim him. Coming up with this idea of a sort of modern day Tarzan must have been an Archimedes-in-the-bath moment for Coben and the background details of the character surely all but wrote themselves from that point on – he joined the army and received training to add to his own survivalist know-how, and then, after putting together a security service with his foster sister, he starts going about the place solving problems like a one-man A-Team. If that doesn’t make you want to buy these books then I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
The supporting cast from the previous outing all return; godson Matthew, his TV attorney grandmother – and crucial Wilde ally – Hester who warrants a novel of her own, and the foster sister Rola who’s there to help out the main man when needed. The plot, which rolls along at an admirably gripping pace and keeps you more-or-less guessing until you get to the end and realise it’s six in the morning and you have to go to work in a few short hours, kicks off when Wilde sends his DNA into one of those discover your genealogy services that you see heavily advertised. There’s a match to a father but it’s the cousins that cause the problems.
As well as laying on the thrills and twists and turns, Coben takes well-placed aim at the perils of social media and the big barn door that is reality television, with the program in question, where contestants can find ‘true’ love, sounding particularly distasteful. Just how far will contestants go for fame and the free apartments lifestyle that goes with it?
Frankly, you can’t go wrong here and I, for one, hope to hear from Wilde again. I should also point out that you don’t have to have read the first one to enjoy this as Coben skilfully fills in the backstory for you. Yes, you might say the whole notion is a bit ridiculous in the first place, but the superhero-without-a-cape conceit certainly never did the likes of Lee Child – or his bank manager - any harm. For those who need them, there are plenty of weighty bildungsromans towards the back of the shop, but for sheer entertainment, Coben is as hard to beat as his gets-the-job-done-ignores-the-rules protagonist.