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Saturday, April 9, 2016


3.5 stars out of 5

For much of the first half of this book, I just didn't feel the vibe. The plot - and many of the lines - somehow seemed hokey, even if a bit amusing. Pole dancers in a strip club, for instance, "couldn't have looked more bored without prescribed sedation." And one dancer had a "boob job that lifted them high enough to double as earrings."

But I hung in there, and once I reached the midpoint, my opinion changed; in fact, I had a tough time putting it down. Yes, second-half parts still reeked of hokey, but the details and action got more intense and the twists and turns more plentiful. One biggie I'd suspected early on; another one near the end was a blast strong enough to register on the Richter scale.

The story begins as Maya, a former special ops pilot who suffers from PTSD mostly as a result of her actions in the heat of war, is given a "nannycam" to record the babysitter's interactions with Maya's two-year-old daughter, Lily, while mom is away. One day shortly thereafter, she sees something unbelievable: Lily sitting on the lap of Maya's husband Joe - a man from a family more powerful and wealthy than God. That can't be, Maya gasps - Joe was murdered a couple of weeks earlier while on a walk in the park with her. Stunned, she begins an extensive search for the truth, making her doubt herself and just about every person in her circle of relatives, friends and even the police department. Is there anyone she can trust?

From there on, it's a matter of back-and-forth wavering as to what happened and who caused it all. Often, the timeline of events just didn't make sense to me (Maya somehow manages to find more hours in a single day than I've experienced in my three-quarters-of-a-century of daily living on this planet). And even though she admits to being more into her career than a textbook-perfect mother, more times than I can count I said to myself, hold on a sec - who's watching the kid?

Oh yes, one other thing: One of my friends at pointed out the rather excessive number of times Maya's name was mentioned throughout. While knowing that ahead of time no doubt conditioned me to be aware of it (an inevitable aftermath of reading other people's reviews before reading the book, of course), her analysis was spot-on. If nothing else, it made me happy the character's name wasn't Clementine - that would have added 25 more pages to the book at the very least.

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben (Dutton, March 2016); 392 pp.

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