Sam Radford

August 4, 2021

Book Notes – “The Boy from the Woods” and “The Innocent” by Harlan Coben

I was away on holiday last week – hence the lack of blog posts. We had a family trip in a caravan that was a lot of fun.

Weather wasn’t amazing, but we enjoyed lots of day trips and had an all-round a good time.

And, surprisingly, I managed to read two novels while away. I say surprised because, as I’m sure any fellow parents with youngish kids will know, holidays aren’t always reading opportunities.

But yes, two books this time! 

The Boy from the Woods
by Harlan Coben has been on my pile for a few months. It’s another of the social media gathered recommendations from a request I put out a while back.

It’s my first book by Coben but, as the title to this post gives away, it didn’t stay that way for long.

Considering how many books he’s written, and how much success he’s had, I’m amazed I’ve never even heard of him. I’m thrilled to have discovered him though and will be reading many more.

He’s a top thriller writer. And, in short, I loved this first one! It was a classic page turner that had me gripped from the first few lines. 

Here’s how it’s described:

Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. Now an adult, he still doesn't know where he comes from, and another child has gone missing.

No one seems to take Naomi Pine's disappearance seriously, not even her father-with one exception. Hester Crimstein, a television criminal attorney, knows through her grandson that Naomi was relentlessly bullied at school. Hester asks Wilde-with whom she shares a tragic connection-to use his unique skills to help find Naomi.

Wilde can't ignore an outcast in trouble, but in order to find Naomi he must venture back into the community where he has never fit in, a place where the powerful are protected even when they harbour secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it's too late.

I’m sure that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – and it’s no literary fiction – but it was exactly what I needed for a holiday read.

So much so that, having finished it, I downloaded a copy of another of his books. This one was called The Innocent. Different and unique story, but a similar vibe. Had me hooked. Read this one even quicker than the first!

From the back cover:

Matt Hunter's life has already been blown apart once. A fight, a friend in trouble, and the dull crack of someone's skull on the concrete cost him four years in jail, and a small sliver of his soul. 

When Matt got out he set about rebuilding his life. He carved himself a job as a lawyer and fell in love with a beautiful woman. The break in the road seemed only to have made him a stronger person. 

But now someone is following him, and Matt realises that his new existence is under threat. Suddenly Matt can't trust anybody - least of all those he loves...

Though very different to Lee Child’s books, I did find myself thinking that they weren’t world’s apart in style and approach. So, if like me you enjoy the occasional Lee Child novel, you might well enjoy Harlan Coben too. I can recommend these two in particular.

What about you? What have you been reading this summer?

–Sam

Got some thoughts on this? I’d love to hear from you – do hit reply or drop me a note.

@samradford | samradford.com