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The Stranger

Cover of The Stranger

The Stranger

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A secret destroys a man's perfect life and sends him on a collision course with a deadly conspiracy in this shocking thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben.
The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world...
Adam Price has a lot to lose: a comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life.
Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne's deception, and realizes that if he doesn't make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he's stumbled into will not only ruin lives—it will end them.
A secret destroys a man's perfect life and sends him on a collision course with a deadly conspiracy in this shocking thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben.
The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world...
Adam Price has a lot to lose: a comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life.
Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne's deception, and realizes that if he doesn't make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he's stumbled into will not only ruin lives—it will end them.
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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.5
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter 1

    The stranger didn't shatter Adam's world all at once.

    That was what Adam Price would tell himself later, but that was a lie. Adam somehow knew right away, right from the very first sentence, that the life he had known as a content suburban married father of two was forever gone. It was a simple sentence on the face of it, but there was something in the tone, something knowing and even caring, that let Adam know that nothing would ever be the same.

    "You didn't have to stay with her," the stranger said.

    They were in the American Legion Hall in Cedarfield, New Jersey. Cedarfield was a town loaded up with wealthy hedge fund managers and bankers and other financial masters-of-the-universe types. They liked to drink beer in the American Legion Hall be- cause it was comfortable slumming, a way to pretend that they were salt-of-the-earth good ol' boys, like something in a Dodge Ram commercial, when they were anything but.

    Adam stood by the sticky bar. There was a dartboard behind him. Neon signs advertised Miller Lite, but Adam had a bottle of Budweiser in his right hand. He turned to the man, who had just sidled up to him, and even though Adam already knew the answer, he asked the man, "Are you talking to me?"

    The guy was younger than most of the fathers, thinner, almost gaunt, with big, piercing blue eyes. His arms were white and reedy with a hint of a tattoo showing beneath one of the short sleeves. He was wearing a baseball cap. He wasn't quite a hipster, but there was something of a wonk attitude coming off him, like some guy who ran a tech department and never saw the sun.

    The piercing blue eyes held Adam's with an earnestness that made him want to turn away. "She told you she was pregnant, right?"

    Adam felt his grip on the bottle tighten.

    "That's why you stayed. Corinne told you she was pregnant."

    It was right then that Adam felt some kind of switch go off in his chest, as if someone had tripped the red digital timer on some movie bomb and now it had started to tick down. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

    "Do I know you?" Adam asked.

    "She told you she was pregnant," the stranger continued. "Corinne, I mean. She told you she was pregnant and then she lost the baby."

    The American Legion Hall was loaded up with town dads sporting those white baseball T-shirts with the three-quarter sleeves and either baggy cargo shorts or perfectly no-assed Dad jeans. Lots of them wore baseball caps. Tonight was the fourth-, fifth-, and sixth- grade boys' lacrosse draft and A-team selections. If you ever wanted to witness type As behaving as such in their natural habitat, Adam thought, watch when parents get involved in their own offsprings' team selections.

    The Discovery Channel should film this.

    "You felt obligated to stay, am I right?" the man asked. "I don't know who the hell—"

    "She lied, Adam." The younger man spoke with such conviction, not just as though he knew for certain but that, at the end of the day, he had Adam's best interest at heart. "Corinne made it all up. She was never pregnant."

    The words kept landing like punches, dazing Adam, sapping his resistance, leaving him shaken and confused and ready to take a standing eight count. He wanted to fight back, grab the guy by the shirt, toss him across the room for insulting his wife like this. But he didn't for two reasons.

    One, there was the whole dazed-like-taking-punches, sapped- resistance thing.

    Two, something about the way the man spoke, something about the guy's confident tone, the damn conviction in his voice, made Adam start...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 9, 2015
    Bestseller Coben (Missing You) continues to turn out thrillers that put highly original spins on a current trend or problem, and while this standalone lacks the nail-biting suspense of his best, it's clever enough to be thoroughly entertaining. Adam Price, wife Corinne, and sons Ryan and Thomas are living the suburban dream in Cedarfield, N.J. Then, at a bar in Cedarfield's American Legion Hall, a man known only as the stranger reveals to Adam a secret of Corinne's that shatters the dream and causes Corinne to disappear. The stranger similarly imparts devastating secrets to Heidi Dann, a middle-aged woman with a family in Beachwood, Ohio, and Michaela Siegel, a medical student in New York City. Price shifts his search efforts from Corrine to the stranger, who is also being pursued by some extremely nasty characters. Lives and reputations are lost along the way. Even when not at his best, Coben is very good, and readers won't be disappointed. Agent: Lisa Erbach Vance, Aaron Priest Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2015
    Another one of Coben's got-it-all New Jersey dads finds out that his wonderful wife has been hiding a whopper of a secret from him-a secret whose trail leads to even more monstrous revelations."We're living the dream," Tripp Evans assures Adam Price at their sons' sixth-grade lacrosse all-star team draft-lacrosse, for crying out loud. But the dream is already slipping from Adam's grasp as Tripp speaks. Minutes earlier, a young stranger who declined to give his name had sidled up to Adam and informed him that his wife had faked her first pregnancy, which had supposedly ended in a miscarriage. When an agonized Adam confronts Corinne with the story, she doesn't deny it. Instead, she pleads for more time and promises that she'll tell all over a restaurant dinner the following day. Adam, who's clearly never read anything by Coben (Missing You, 2014, etc.), agrees, and Corinne checks out of her high school teaching job and vanishes, pausing just long enough to text Adam: "YOU TAKE CARE OF THE KIDS. DON'T TRY TO CONTACT ME. IT WILL BE OKAY." Days pass, and it's not OK. Adam's two boys (are they really even his? should he run DNA tests?) keep asking where their mom is. There's no word from Corinne, who won't answer Adam's texts. Her cellphone places her somewhere near Pittsburgh. Rumors about her start to percolate through the lacrosse league. And, although it'll take Adam quite a while to find this out, a murder in far-off Ohio has implications for Corinne's disappearance even more disturbing than anything Adam's imagined. Coben can always be relied on to generate thrills from the simplest premises, but his finest tales maintain a core of logic throughout the twists. This 100-proof nightmare ranks among his most potent.

  • Library Journal

    October 15, 2014
    Marriage is not bliss when Adam and Hannah confront the terrible secret on which their entire relationship is based, leaving Adam fearful that he's never really known his wife. With seven consecutive No. 1 "New York Times" best sellers, Coben looks rock-solid on this one. With a five-city tour.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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