Prather’s Pick: A novel about secrets
This week’s novel is now a Netflix original series. “The Stranger” was written by Harlan Coben, author of more than thirty novels and the recipient of several awards.
The novel begins one night at the American Legion Hall in Cedarfield, New Jersey. Some town fathers have gathered to find out the results of the fourth through sixth-grade lacrosse draft and A-team selections. That’s when a young man in a baseball cap sidles up to Adam Price, one of the fathers.
Adam doesn’t recognize the man.
“She told you she was pregnant, right?”
That’s what the young man whispers to Adam. He is talking about Corinne, Adam’s wife. Of course, Adam is shocked—on several levels. However, something about the man’s demeanor makes him listen.
The man goes on to say that Corinne lied. She never was pregnant. He’s referring to a time that Adam was about to leave Corinne, but then she announced that she was pregnant. (Later on she miscarried.)
Adam argues that he saw the pregnancy test and sonogram. She looked pregnant, too. The young man just says to check his Visa card. He also suggests that Adam might want to have his boys’ DNA checked, too. (Ryan is a sixth-grader and Thomas is a sophomore.)
Then the man takes off in a gray Honda accord. A young blonde woman in a pony tail is driving. Adam isn’t able to catch the license plate information.
Adam is stunned. He wouldn’t have been at the lacrosse event, but Corinne is at a teacher’s conference in Atlantic City so he’s here instead. Corinne is treasurer of the lacrosse board. Tripp Evans is the president, and he’s looking at Adam with concern. (Lacrosse events are woven into the novel’s plot.)
Later on Adam does check his Visa card, and eventually it leads him to Fake-A-Pregnancy.com. It’s a novelty company that deals in jokes, a place to purchase pregnancy tests, sonograms, and “fake stomachs.”
When he finally confronts Corinne, she says “there’s more to it” but puts off talking to him about her pregnancy claim and disappears. One text from her asks Adam for a few days.
All of this is the beginning of the novel, but there’s a lot more to this week’s thriller. The young man in the baseball cap and the girl with the pony tail confront other people, too. Then there’s a murder that brings Police Chief Johanna Griffin to investigate. Adam is trying to find his wife, and he gets mixed up in some pretty dark stuff, including a conspiracy.
This novel will keep the reader guessing until the very end.
“The Stranger” is published by Dutton (2015). The paperback book (although originally in hardback) costs $9.99.
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