Harlan Coben is a successful and talented author of numerous mystery books. He has an uncanny ability to hook the reader into wanting to know more in the first few sentences, a pace that makes the book nearly impossible to put down, and a double take ending that leaves the reader breathless and satisfied. Just One Look is a compelling tale that embodies his ability to do those three feats.
Grace Lawson is the primary character of the book. Her life as a happy wife and mother of two wonderful kids is not perfect but might as well be. She has had more than her fair share of trauma due to an event in her early twenties. Though she still suffers a limp from that era, her life 15 years later is a stable and happy one. Her loving husband of 13 years is attentive, hardworking, and emotionally available for both her and their two kids. She is not a brainless soccer mom (who can be when you have actually had devestation in your life, even if you have recovered), but she enjoys her friends and her life as an artist. But on one of her normal trips to the photo store to pick up a role of film turns her world upside down. The odd, old photo that appears in her packet out of nowhere (looking to be from about 15 years ago) is of people she does not recognize, but one looks a lot like her husband. Wondering how it got in her packet and why, she leaves the photo on the counter intending to ask her husband about it later. He disappears after seeing the picture and her hunt for him starts a tide of events that affects many lives, and leads to her finding out the truth about her husband’s past.
The lives of many innocent people get twisted around as the ripples spread, as a hired hit man takes over a loners house by overpowering the man. The neighbor, a lonely somewhat bored housewife, gets too close for comfort for the talented and heartless hit man, and ends up paying a terrible price for getting involved. Her involvement is helpful to the police who would have otherwise been unaware of the terrible situation building in their quiet community. The hit man, ordered not to kill his quarry, is forces to relocate due to the interfering neighbor, but not before other people have gotten hurt. In the end many lives are changed, people are injured seriously, a few are dead, and no one really knows the whole story.
In great style Coben has taken a handful of parrell lives and telling the story from each perspective, has woven a tale that is both gripping and intelligent, that is founded in love, deception, position, and anger. From forelorn boyfriends to rising rock stars, small town police captains to high level mobsters, lonely singles seeking companionship to high powered lawyers with something to hide, it is a cast of characters that make it impossible for a reader to stay distant and unaffected. Harlan Coben’s plot twists and sneak-up-behind-you revelations, as always, make Just One Look a great read. Pick up a copy at your local library and go on the adventure today.