Thursday, April 11, 2013

Harlan Coben Obsesses Over Six Years

Six Years by Harlan Coben
Six years ago, Jake Fisher met the love of his life — an artist on retreat near an old farm town in Vermont. Like her, he was attending a workshop, with plans to finish writing his dissertation.

When their paths crossed in the town that linked the two retreats together, it was love at first sight. The initial spark quickly grew into a fire that would burn for three long months and consume them. That is, it did until their idyllic whirlwind love affair ends as abruptly as it had begun.

His confessed soulmate, Natalie, breaks it off. In fact, not only does she decide to end it, but she also seeks to bury it. After announcing her plan to marry someone else, she gives him a wedding invitation and dares him to come. When he does show up, he surprises some people but not Natalie.

She is ready for him, planing to use it as an opportunity to extinguish any remaining flame once and for all. She makes him promise to leave them alone. And for six years, Fisher would keep his promise.

Six years only feels like a life sentence against love. 

While some people might wonder about the sappiness, particularly if they have never been so lucky to have stumbled into a soulmate at least once in their life, Fisher's affliction is very real. And as he pines away for his lost love every few pages, it intentionally raises a question that persists throughout the entire novel. Is Fisher a romantically inclined dote or a dangerously obsessed stalker?

This is the kind of question even Fisher asks himself from time to time. He might have isolated himself in academia, spending almost every moment of his bachelorhood on or near the quiet Massachusetts campus where he teaches, but his memory of Natalie is as fresh as spring dew.

It might have remained that way forever too, but things take an unexpected turn. Natalie's husband Todd, a man who happens to have been an alumni from the same college where Fisher teaches, has died. And Fisher, unable to resist temptation, elects to attend the funeral.

Although Fisher attends, hoping to see her again and possibly find closure if not the opportunity to rekindle the feelings that he believes they shared, Natalie is nowhere to be found. Todd's real wife, on the other hand, is found very easily. The high school sweethearts married early, raising two children.

The discovery raises more questions than it answers. Was Natalie's husband one of those oddball men who secretly supports two families? Was the wedding a ruse to chase him off forever? It is possible that he has invented the entire affair? And if not, where is Natalie today and is she still safe?

A few graphs about mystery-thriller author Harlan Coben. 

Harlan Coben
Even after writing 24 novels, including several New York Times bestsellers, Harlan Coben shows no sign of slowing down. The award-winning New Jersey-based mystery-thriller writer continues to alternate between his well-known Myron Bolitar series and standalone novels.

As his newest standalone novel, Six Years, offers up something new from Coben. Although not belonging to either genre, it sometimes feels like a psychological thriller and a supernatural suspense story. He accomplishes this by making Fisher an untrustworthy protagonist with a suspect point of view and by creating the suggestion that some of the events occurring are frighteningly larger than life.

The result has a two-fold effect for some readers. They either walk away believing Six Years is his best work since the critically acclaimed novel Tell No One, or they are moderately disappointed because the resolution is much more grounded than the events leading up to them suggest. I belong to the former, someone who appreciates Fisher enough as a strong and complicated protagonist, despite his incessant whining over a broken heart, to forgive the tightly-wrapped package at the end.

Six Years By Harlan Coben Messes With Heads At 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

As a mystery thriller, Six Years works even when it become clear that the novel is more mystery than thriller. The real thrill is attempting to discover whether or not some of the events happening to Fisher are even real. As a man obsessed, Coben leaves open the premise that anything is possible for a delightfully long time.

You can find Six Years by Harlan Coben on Amazon. The book can also be ordered from Barnes & Noble or downloaded for iBooks. The audiobook is read by Scott Brick. Despite some overproduction issues in the first few chapters, the entire read evens out as Brick eventually becomes Fisher. Some people will think Brick is being melodramatic, but the love craziness is the book.
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