Fool Me Once: Harlan Coben
Illusions are often created and many will not see past them as Maya Burkett faces harsh realities with this multi-plot complex novel by author Harlan Coben. Her husband and sister were both killed and when the evidence points to the fact that the same gun was used to kill them both Maya begins to probe deeper into her sister’s murder and falls prey to her own shortcomings. In the military and a veteran war pilot, she has flashbacks that haunt her every night and the end result keeps her awake. Medication, counseling and even trying to reconcile what she did when so many died and civilian lives were lost, haunt her but not in the way most would think. Maya just wants to learn the truth behind Joe’s death and in doing so we get to learn a lot about how far she will go to stop certain truths from going to light while opening an blatantly forcing others to come out. With the help of a close military friend named Shane she uncovers the names of others that might be involved and every step of the way tries to avoid the police, avoid what really did happen as she is presented with a nanny cam by a friend and the video she sees is quite telling and revealing. How can her daughter be playing with her husband when he is dead and was just buried? Questioning the Nanny and threatening her only causes more harm and Isabella disappears and the truth behind the video has yet to be revealed.
Claire, her sister was investigating the Burkett’s and came upon information related to their pharmaceutical company that would bring them down. Maya also learned more about the death of his young brother Andrew wondering if he really jumped overboard on a yacht with his friends or someone helped him to die. Added in we learn about a fraternity hazing that caused the death of another friend and when Andrew, Joe’s brother threatened to reveal the truth did someone silence him forever?
Imagine a world with no lies only truths. Imagine a government that does not lie to the public. Imagine companies that reveal the truth and have no hidden secrets. Corey The Whistle Blower has created a network to do just that and he has something on Maya that he is just waiting to reveal but why didn’t he remain for Maya to find out. Governments cheat, sports figures lie and even the media pumps up their stories to create more interest. Her sister worked for a corrupt organization and she had access to information that she wanted to leak and had to be stopped but who decided to silence her? Claire and Joe worked together but what were they working on that got them both killed? Maya is a risk taker, persistent, tenacious and often disregards her own safety and that of her young daughter Lily in her quest for what she feels is justice. Finding and digging more she learns about P.I. named Tom Douglass who was getting paid by Joe’s family quite a large sum every month. More digging reveals that the police detective on the case was getting quite a large sum to in order to investigate Joe’s death or was he looking at Maya for some other reason? Governments keep secrets, businesses do too and Corey condemns that but Maya claims he is responsible for getting Claire killed and Joe because of what he revealed and leaked.
Throughout the novel we learn more about Maya’s PSTD an how it affects her every night. The sounds she hears, the voices, the loud noises and reliving the nightmare and her decision haunts her but why doesn’t she feel strong remorse for the truth? Auditory hallucinations is what she is experiencing according to a psychiatrist on her case but why won’t she face it and deal with it and get help? As we get to know her more and we get to know Corey and the help he is willing to give her to find out the truth the reader begins to suspect that Maya is unstable, unreliable and a pathological liar. Military background, great marksman, and smart, she begins her own form of investigation and where it takes her is right to the door of Joe’s family and a confrontation that will surprise readers. How does Maya live with her past? How does she face what she knows she did and why doesn’t she seem to have any real emotional outbursts? Her husband is murdered and she never stops to mourn? She goes back to work and seems divorced from the entire situation until it just might come back at her smack dab in the face but how, why and where?
Judith Burkett is austere, cold and believes in class distinctions and although Maya married into this rich family she was never really one of them. Manipulative, conniving and denying the truth when Maya asks to see her she sends a colleague hoping to defer her and lead her astray. Flashbacks filled her night. Her head throbbed and she asked that her friend Shane sweep her house for bugs and she even attacked and questioned Eileen about the nanny cam. As the author creates doubt in the reader’s mind about what really happened to Joe, who the two men she identified as the shooters really are is a diabolical killer going to get away with murder and if so is it justified? The bodies of Andrew, Joe, Claire and the P.I. will tell the story but first they have to be found. Andrew Burkett went to school in Philadelphia and was liked by everyone but timid and not outgoing. Theo Mora was his best friend and a practical joke would cost him his life. How far will someone go to hide the truth and bury it? How far will others go along with it in order not to pay for a crime that so many committed? Who killed Claire? Who killed Theo, Andrew and Tom Douglass and why? Who killed Joe you won’t believe and the truth will not set anyone free but will bring down a house of cards whose foundation will crumble with the sound of a bullet and a shot heard loud and clear. Characters that you really do not want to identify with and a little girl named Lily caught in the crossfire with a mother who could not see her way to let some truths and realities go! Lies, betrayals, family loyalties, family betrayals, cover ups, hate, revenge and retribution are all at the heart of this novel and learn and be ware that you can try as hard as you want and con me but if you try and Fool Me Once you won’t get a chance to Fool me Twice!
Complex, spellbinding, fast paced and heart stopping as you come to an ending that is explosive, unexpected and lets you know that the author has created a plot so riveting and so unique you won’t see the ending coming and he will have Fooled you Once!
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews /MJ Magazine