Book name: Fool Me Once
Author: Harlan Coben
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Publication Date: 2016
Star Rating: 5/5
I wasn’t sure whether to think of Fool Me Once as a murder mystery/crime story or a thriller, and sometimes the boundaries between the two genres can be fluid.
When a fascinating story lies at the heart of the narrative, perhaps these labels don’t really matter too much.
Maya Burkett is a former helicopter pilot in the army. She left service with PTSD after a disastrous event that led to the death of civilians in theatre.
She’s still haunted by auditory echoes of the screams of those who died.
Maya’s family life is also complex and challenging. When Fool Me Once opens, she has recently been widowed and left as a single parent to her young daughter.
Her sister Claire was also murdered recently in what appeared to be a home invasion. On top of her husband Joe just being shot, Maya has a lot to cope with.
The police investigation is nowhere near being able to solve what happened to Claire. Why did someone break into her home and brutally murder her?
Maya identifies two men who she claims shot Joe in the park. She ran away before the final shot was fired and raised the alarm.
The police are mystified, however, to discover that Claire and Joe were shot with the same weapon. It belongs to Maya, which leads them to question whether someone in the family killed them both.
They are at a loss to find a motive to explain why anyone would have shot Maya’s sister and still less her husband.
Claire and Joe worked together for Joe’s family business, so the answers appear to lie there.
Like any good thriller, the truth is partly explained by present but also by the secrets of decades past.
Unexplained deaths haunt Joe in the form of his brother, his friend and the former police officer his family business now employs as a private detective.
And Joe and Claire worked for a family business that is ruthless enough to cover up whatever it needs to in order to protect their wealth.
Fool Me Once was a really great story. There was plenty of pace and action. The mixture of current family issues and past secrets was well managed. Maya was likeable. She was tough, capable, resilient and above all courageous. She was complex because of her PTSD and the outcome of her military career in terms of civilian casualties. But she was also determined to do right by her daughter and to find out why her sister died.
There was a massive plot twist at the end, so much so that it made me reconsider the whole story in its light. That isn’t a bad thing. The outcome was credible and satisfying, but it takes a writer as experienced as Harlan Coben to pull it off. And he did.
Thank you for reading my review.
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