Posted: April 12, 2014 in Book Awards, Edgar Awards, review, USA

51kmTzUoq6L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_A little frazzled by reading hundreds of pages about real life genocide and ethnic cleansing I picked up Six Years by Harlan Coben for some less challenging reading. I had only read one book by this author Tell No One; and I had watched the brilliant French film adaptation of the novel three times.  A serious Kristin Scott Thomas addiction.

Six Years begins with a heartbroken Jake Fisher at the wedding of Natalie, the only woman he would ever love, to Todd Sanderson in a small white chapel in Vermont. Jake is a political science professor at Lanford, one of those Massachusetts liberal arts universities where students discuss the theories of Locke and Rousseau while wondering which Wall Street firm, or US Senator will find them employable.

Six years after that wedding Jake sees on his computer news feed that Todd Sanderson has been murdered, and although he had promised Natalie he would leave her alone he cannot resist the urge to see her again and travels to South Carolina to attend Todd’s funeral. There to his shock he sees that Todd has a different widow and children grieving for him. Where is Natalie?

The set up and hook is very good, but from then on the story is a bit too far fetched and very derivative. The whole plot will be familiar to readers of Tell No One with only a few variations on the theme. Six Years was easy escapist reading and clearly if you have won an Edgar, Shamus and Anthony and your books sell in their millions you have a successful formula. But although I enjoyed the book, it was a rapid read, in my opinion you owe readers a little more than just a clever reworking of Tell No One.    

  1. Tell No One was fantastic. I read the first few and then dropped off. I forget why. Was I already finding them a bit samey? I hate to think so. Oddly, I’ve felt like trying a Harlan Coben again recently. I feel in need of a thriller that won’t let up, is clever, and is written by a “safe hands” author. It’s a long time since I read Tell No One so I just might give this one a go!

    I saw the movie too btw. Was I wrangling with the subtitles in the extreme as I don’t remember K S-T being in it? (Of course I bow to your superior knowledge.) I do remember thinking the lead actor reminded me of Stephen Leather. And I don’t remember how it ended – or how it started come to that – which should serve me well for a “re-work” book.

    And I did spot the Harlan Coben cameo in the movie. 😉

  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    Norman – Thanks as ever for the thoughtful and candid review. One of the things I always find disappointing in an author whose work I’ve enjoyed is when the books start to resemble each other too much. Never a good thing… Still, you’ve reminded me of how good Coben has been. Thanks

  3. I know what you mean. He’s reliable: but there is always one more twists than is really needed, and I cannot remember a thing about the books after I’ve finished them. Did like that film though, and that famous scene of him running through the streets with U2 playing in the background.

  4. TracyK says:

    We have seen Tell No One with the lovely Kristin Scott Thomas several times and really enjoy that movie every time we watch. I think I will read the book sometime which I have avoided because Coben’s stand alone books are just too tense for me. Have you ever tried his Myron Bolitar series? I have not yet.

  5. kathy d. says:

    I loved the French film of Tell No One much more than I enjoyed the book. Sorry to say. A friend who is not a mystery fiction reader also loved this film. It was so well done.
    And yes, I, too love Kristin Scott Thomas.
    I think another viewing is on my agenda.

    I’ve read a few other Coben books. I read one Myron Bolitar, but didn’t enjoy it and one character’s sexism is over the top.

    My suggestion for a better thriller writer is Linwood Barclay. His last one had me reading all weekend until I finished it.

  6. Norman Price says:

    Thanks all.

    Rhian, Kirstin S-T was the doctor’s sisters lesbian lover in the film , not a character I remember from the book.

    Margot, so many writers just repeat the formula or large chunks of it in every book. For instance I am waiting for the day that Rebus does not have an argument with his employing authority. 😉

    Moira it was a great film, and I agree that extra twist on a plot twist is becoming a staple of so many writers. I am still annoyed at that finish of The Bridge II.

    TracyK I haven’t read the Myron Bolitar series but might give it a try.

    KathyD I will give Linwood Barclay a try sometime.

  7. kathy d. says:

    Actually, I will say that the basic premise of Tell No One (film) was kind of obvious to me from the start, but it didn’t spoil the film for me at all.

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