BOOK: Tell No One by Harlan Coben.

David Beck and his wife Elizabeth have been in love since the second grade. And every year, on the anniversary of their first kiss, they return to the place where they shared it, kiss again, and mark a nearby tree with a new slash to show the passing of another year together. Eight years ago, right after they’d added yet another line to their tree, they separated briefly while David jumped into the lake for a swim. The next thing he knew, his wife was screaming from the shore and then gone, and he’d taken a baseball bat to the back of the head and nearly drowned. A few weeks later, Elizabeth’s tortured and mutilated body was found in a ditch, the letter “K” branded into her cheek — the signature of an infamous serial killer named “Killjoy.”

Now, eight years later, David is still grieving. He sleepwalks through his days as a pediatrician to the poor, barely able to care about anyone, including his patients. But then the unimaginable happens — David begins getting a series of messages from Elizabeth. As he struggles to uncover the truth (is she alive? is she dead and this is some sort of trap?), David boards a roller coaster of hopes lifted and then dashed, and, eventually, finds himself on the run from the cops, accused of Elizabeth’s murder himself.

I enjoyed this predictable but engaging novel quite a bit until I got to the last five pages. Up to that point, it was suspenseful enough that I had trouble putting it down and I really found myself caring about the characters, which is not worth nothing. But the final twist in the story just made me MAD. At first, I thought it was because it was forcing me to hate a character I had grown to like — but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was mad because the twist was just so unnecessary, thrown in at the last minute, it seemed, because the author had confused “unexpected” with “clever.” Sometimes the unexpected in a novel CAN be very clever — but here, it was only unexpected because it was COMPLETELY LAME. It totally ruined for me an otherwise pretty satisfying thriller.

I still enjoyed the story enough to want to see the recently-released movie version — a French film that’s gotten pretty decent reviews. But I think I’ll go into it planning to stop the DVD before I get to the final moments of the story. Sure, that may seem like cinematic sacrilege to some. But ten bucks says those people haven’t read this book.

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