This week's read for 52 books in 52 weeks was Harlan Coben's Six Years.
As I mentioned in my last column, I had never read, or even heard of, Coben before, and this despite the fact that he's sold more than 50 million books worldwide. My bad.
Six Years is about a university professor named Jake Sanders who had a brief but intense fling with a woman, Natalie -- you guessed it -- six years ago. The relationship ended when she abruptly married someone else and asked Jake to leave her alone. No texts, no calls, no email, no nothing, no explanation. Jake complied, but six years later, when he sees her husband's death notice, he decides to seek her out (at her husband's funeral!). While there he discovers that Natalie was never married to this man at all, and hasn't been seen by anyone in -- you guessed it -- six years.
And thus begins Jake's improbable, sometimes obvious, circuitous and often violent ride through the next 350 pages. Where has Natalie gone? Why would she lie to him about marrying someone else? Why is everyone who knew him back then pretending they didn't? Could it possibly have something to do with a charity named Fresh Start that keeps getting mentioned but not explored until 250 pages into the book?
I grew up reading detective fiction -- PD James, Rex Stout, Agatha Christie and Dick Francis are favorites -- but I'm not one of those readers who keeps trying to figure out who did it while I'm reading. I'm usually just along for the ride. But in this case, though the ride was quick, and sometimes funny, and mostly painless, I found myself figuring out what was going on way too early in the book, in my estimation, for this genre. With the exception of the final twist, which I only sorta saw coming, the only thing that surprised me was the extreme number of coincidences.
It's not that the book wasn't fun; it was. And if I had been on an airplane or next to a beach it would've been a good companion for an afternoon. I just think that the execution didn't live up to the premise, which I found very strong, and so in the end I was left dissatisfied. Coben fans will be pleased, however, I'm sure.
And now for next week: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler -- it debuted at No. 10 on the NYT list this week, and has been getting wonderful buzz. I'm ready to spend some time in the 1920s.
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