Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Boy from the Woods

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben
Grand Central Publishing: 3/17/20
review copy; 384 pages 

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben is a very highly recommended thriller with an unconventional investigator named Wilde.

Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a six to eight year-old boy living feral in the woods near Westville, N.J. He had no memory of his past and still doesn't know where he came from. He uses his exceptional detective skills and insight working as a private investigator with his foster sister - when he wants to. When Hester Crimstein, a well-known attorney with a television show, is asked by her grandson Matthew to look into the disappearance of a classmate, Naomi Pine, Hester immediately talks to Wilde. Wilde has a connection to her family and Matthew is his godson.
Wilde uses his unique skills to find Naomi the first time she disappears. When she disappears a second time, it seems that there is more going on under the surface in the community of Westville and Naomi's disappearance may be connected to some powerful people. Wilde knows that Crash Maynard, teenage son of TV producer, Dash Maynard, relentlessly bullied Naomi.  When Crash disappears too and a ransom note is sent to his parents, Wilde needs to find out if the disappearance of Naomi and Crash is connected or if there is something else at play. 

Wilde is an interesting, unique, well-developed character. His backstory may seem a bit incredible, but it was believable in the plot and setting Coben sets up for us in The Boy from the Woods. Hester Crimstein always makes a splash as a memorable character, and that is still the case here. There is also a romantic subplot starting for her. Most of the teenagers were just standard teenage characters - bullies, good kids, outcasts - but then standard characters are so because it is the reality.

The plot and subplots are plentiful as the investigations are underway and they are all fun to follow. Wilde is probably a bit more interesting to follow if only to experience his powers of observation as his investigation is underway, but Hester has her own strengths. There were several surprises in the plot, with one being a complete surprise. Politics rears its ugly head in the plot and novel, which I hope is just a fluke and not going to become a ongoing occurrence. All in all The Boy from the Woods is a compelling novel. It may start out a bit slow, but once it picks up the pace you won't want to put it down. 

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

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