Synopsis: Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. Now an adult, he still doesn’t know where he comes from, and another child has gone missing.
No one seems to take Naomi Pine’s disappearance seriously, not even her father-with one exception. Hester Crimstein, a television criminal attorney, knows through her grandson that Naomi was relentlessly bullied at school. Hester asks Wilde-with whom she shares a tragic connection-to use his unique skills to help find Naomi.
Wilde can’t ignore an outcast in trouble, but in order to find Naomi he must venture back into the community where he has never fit in, a place where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.
“Well, well, well, as I live and breathe. Hester Crimstein in my little station.”
Whether you are stumbling across this review in search of a new stand-alone thriller or as a long term fan of the author, you are equal parts welcome here. Friends, The Boy from the Woods is Harlan Coben at his best, and let me tell you why. Readers of Stephen King claim their loyalty as a fan base in part because he has an uncanny way of providing layers to his work. Sure, you can jump right in to most of his fictional pieces and get by just fine, but once you’ve experienced a few of his stories, you start to find the hidden gems, cross references, and golden nuggets that he leaves behind for those who wish to go deeper. What King does for science fiction, fantasy, and horror, Harlan Coben does for crime fiction.
Did you happen to read Run Away earlier this year? If so, you’ll find out early on that the events of The Boy from the Woods happen tangentially to what Simon Greene experiences in Run Away. Don’t worry if you haven’t read it; there are no spoilers for that plot in this book, and you could still go back and read Run Away after finishing this one, as they are two separate entities. However, this is just an example of the easter eggs you’ll find throughout if you’re a dedicated fan. *clears throat*
—> insert Hester Crimstein
If you’re new around here, let me catch you up to speed. Hester is a 70-something year old defense attorney who is a little bit of this:
And a whole lotta this:
Basically, she’s one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. She’s got style, she’s got class, and she’s a teeny tiny woman who’s a great big smart ass. Each and every time she has shown up in one of the author’s books as a supporting character, I’ve longed for an in depth peek into her story. Finally, it’s here! I won’t say too much, other than this was everything I have been waiting for over the past 12 years of reading Coben’s novels. Also, Hester getting a romance will fix everything that is wrong in the world, I assure you. The reason Hester is a central character in this book is because her grandson, Matthew, is tangled up in something he shouldn’t have been (teenagers, amiright?). There is another aspect of the story that is described in the synopsis, and I don’t want to mention it here specifically, but it’s worth stating that it kept my focus in a different place which, in turn, helped keep most of the twists and turns a surprise.
As a reader, I’ve always found that the very best thrillers are equal parts gripping plot progression and in depth character development. Harlan Coben manages to balance action scenes with emotional connections as a perfected art form, which is why he has become one of my most trusted go-to authors of the past decade. Perhaps being a long time fan allowed me to appreciate every instance of crossover characters, every exclamation of “Articulate!” when a phone was answered, and every familiar setting that I’ve grown exceptionally fond of between NJ and NYC, but I believe The Boy from the Woods stands on its own as a memorable thriller. I enjoyed every minute I spent with this book, and I hope to meet Hester, Oren, and a few other characters in future endeavors.
*Many thanks to the author for providing my review copy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
With over 60 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last seven consecutive novels, MISSING YOU, SIX YEARS, STAY CLOSE, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.
Coben is the winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – and he has received an eclectic variety of honors from all over the world. His novel TELL NO ONE has been turned into a hit French film of the same name. His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications.
Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.