SIX YEARS by Harlan Coben
I love Harlan Coben’s twisty suspense thrillers. I logged on with his first, Tell No One, and I’ve been through most of the rest of them with him, enjoying the surprising rides he’s offered. I show up every year just to get my breath sucked away as he launches into a chase with life or death stakes.
The opening chapters of Six Years has that same quality: a peek inside someone’s shattered life, then a re-emergence of some incredible coincidence that makes the main character re-evaluate everything he thought he knew.
That happens in this book as well when Jake Fisher finds out the man he thought the love of his life married wasn’t really married to her at all. Unfortunately, for all the surprises and twists that Coben presents in this one, he skids over the cliff’s edge a few times in ways that I just couldn’t buy into.
First of all, the opening chapter where Jake goes to the wedding of the woman he loves just to watch her go off on the arm of another man is an incredible stretch. I don’t know anyone that would do that and not be disruptive in some way.
Second, I can’t believe that a man still pines over a summer fling for six years. Of course, Jake hasn’t been a monk during this time, and that just stretches incredulity even more when he finds out things weren’t as he thought they were. Red flags abound.
Third, Natalie – the supposed love of his life – tells Jake to stay away after he almost finds her. Although we’ve seen it happen before, I think it might have played better if she had come to him for help, staying the night, then moving on and forcing him to go blundering after her. I don’t know a guy who would risk all that Jake does to find a woman he only knew for a few weeks – and didn’t know well at that.
So I had a somewhat jaded eye when I flipped the pages. I didn’t buy into the relationship, still don’t, but I certainly bought into the mystery that Coben parlayed into the book. More than once, I thought I knew what was really going on, only to find out that wasn’t what was unfolding after all. That part of the book was well done, especially since I had enough clues to figure it out only a few pages ahead of Jake.
The pacing and the dialogue were spot on as usual, but I felt many times events were more contrived than was necessary. I could see how Coben was weaving the story back through the characters in this one, and I knew how it was going to go, even though I wasn’t sure where I was being led.
An enjoyable, one-sitting read, but I just wasn’t as engaged with the characters as I wanted to be.