I have just raced through Harlan Coben's Fool Me Once in three days. It had me reading way past my bedtime and almost made me miss my stop on the bus ride to work. I voraciously devoured the pages, desperate to reach the nail-biting conclusion and, in my head, I was already preparing the 5 star review that I would write once I'd finished. Then the last ten pages killed it, leaving me shaking my head at the unrealistic and senseless final scenes. I'm all for shock endings - when I watched Sixth Sense and (look away if you haven't seen it !), in the final scene, went "what ??? he's dead ???", I then worked back through the whole film, changing my viewpoint, going "ohhh so that's why ...". In this case, though, it just didn't make sense, but I won't go into details or it will be a massive spoiler.
So, after telling you how much I hated the ending, it's time to go back to the beginning. The book starts with poignant scenes as Maya, a war veteran, stands by the graveside of her murdered husband as he is lowered into the ground. As she was a witness to the horrific crime and she was already battling her own PTSD demons, as well as trying to come to terms with the murder of her sister a few months before, it seems like a good idea when her best friend gives her a nanny cam as added security. When she sees her dead husband appear on the video with her daughter, she has to wonder whether she is cracking up under the stress or if there is something else going on here.
So begins a complex, exciting and convincing cat-and-mouse game, with Maya trying to outwit the police and work with unlikely allies to uncover the truth behind what is going on. Her husband came from a rich family who had had their own share of tragedy, including the suicide of his younger brother, but that's not the only skeleton that Maya will be bringing out of the closet as she digs into his past.
Maya is a complex character, both incredibly tough and understandably vulnerable after everything she has been through. I really liked her character and could empathise with her as she tried to make sense of all the craziness going on around her, following unlikely leads and trying to work out who were the good guys and who was quite possibly corrupt. Until, that is, the final few scenes - both the shock ending and the unnecessary, schmaltzy "25 years later" epilogue - that had me groaning because they were so bad ! I always like to compare notes with other readers once I've finished writing my review and I immediately spotted on goodreads that I am not the only one to absolutely hate the ending !
If you've read it, I'd be really interested to hear what you think. I was all ready to give it a 5/5 but the ending killed it and deserved a 1/5. I was therefore going to give it a 3/5 but that seemed a little harsh as I loved 99% of it so I'll go for a 4/5.
star rating : 4/5 (but I thought the ending was rubbish !)