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Just One Look by Harlan Coben

Just One Look (original 2004; edition 2005)

by Harlan Coben

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2,020443,315 (3.65)17
Title:Just One Look
Authors:Harlan Coben
Info:Signet (2005), Mass Market Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Your library

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Just One Look by Harlan Coben (2004)


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From Publishers Weekly Coben's latest thriller (after No Second Chance) is a riveting, albeit perplexing, nightmare that finds hapless New Jersey wife and mother Grace Lawson dealing with an assortment of fearful developments, including a missing spouse, a terrifyingly adaptable hit man, deceitful friends, hidden agendas and ghosts from the past. Reader MacDuffie wisely takes her cues from Coben's prose. When he describes a policeman as "patronizing," she lends just the right vocal inflection to his lines, then quickly switches to the sarcastic tones of feisty Grace. And for the novel's most ingratiating character, Charlene Swain, MacDuffie's voice subtly shifts from vague to vital as the Percodan-popping, bored-to-tears housewife rises above her ennui to give Grace a helping hand in combating the wicked hit man Wu. Coben fills his thriller with unoriginal characters (including a murderer on death row, a rock-and-roller in comeback mode and a gentrified mobster with revenge on his mind), but MacDuffie's skillful interpretation brings the characters and action into sharp focus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist If the trick of suspense writing is to get readers to identify so passionately with the beleaguered principal character that they disappear into the story, feeling the knife points of tension themselves, then Coben is the Houdini of the form. Coben, who has won the Trifecta of mystery writing--the Edgar, the Anthony, and the Shamus Awards--likes to burst the bubble of suburban security by having his characters' well-ordered, happy lives upended in ways that mirror readers' fears. In his four stand-alone thrillers, the past comes back to bite or haunt the protagonist, or the present vanishes in one fatal moment. In this latest excursion into the dark, a suburban mother finds one picture that does not belong in the pack of family outing photos she's just picked up. The picture, showing a group of college students, seems as if it was taken 20 years ago. One of the group looks like her husband. A girl in the group has an X drawn across her face. When Mrs. Happily Married shows the picture to her husband, he seems shaken, then leaves home. Coben ratchets up the suspense of the wife trying to find her husband with another drama, that of a serial killer in the neighborhood. A tragic accident from the woman's past intersects with her husband's secrets and the movements of the killer in ways that are satisfyingly creepy. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved ( )
  Hans.Michel | Sep 13, 2013 |
This is my second Coben book and although I enjoyed it, I didn’t think it was as good as Tell No One. I like Coben’s themes of ordinary people stumbling into criminal conspiracies. The story starts with housewife Grace Lawson picking up some developed photographs then to find included an old photo containing five people including her husband Jack. Jack sees the photo then disappears. The plot is essentially about Grace’s attempts to find Jack and the meaning of the old photo.

The book is a page-turner and I kept wanting to know what happens next, which is a must in a thriller. But I did find there were a lot of characters to keep track of, and the connections between the various threads were a bit confusing. The plot relied on suburban housewife Grace having contacts with the local Mafia. This device was used, albeit with a bit more credibility, in Tell No One.

It wasn’t possible to work out who’d done it from the clues and rabbits were pulled out of the hat in final chapters. The ending was rather disappointing; I was hoping that Grace would stumble on a high powered conspiracy and instead got something much more prosaic and quite unconvincing. ( )
  Michael_Drysdale | Aug 7, 2013 |
This was a little hard to follow on audio, however, once I could remember who each character was, it became a very interesting story.

This was a first read for this author for me and I won't hesitate to pick up another book by him.

The story was very in depth, sometimes too much, however, had a pretty decent ending. It certainly wasn't predictable.

It seemed to me that there were too many characters to follow and keep up with and I don't think the story would have lacked any without a few of them.

I had a rough time in the beginning, however, became very interested throughout the middle of the book. I also believe that if I would have read the story rather than listened to it, that it would have been easier to get into and stay with the story. ( )
  acorley84 | Apr 7, 2013 |
This book has a quick start right out of the gate. You don’t have to wait a long time for something to happen. And it never stops for long. The suspense starts right away and Coben manages to keep it going. There are enough twists and turns and false leads and partial answers that lead to new questions that you don’t lose the tension along the way. There is a lot going on here. You jump from scene to scene and have to keep track of a lot of characters (some of whom you never actually meet) in a complex plot. A very complex plot. There are people who are not who they appear to be, pasts that come back to haunt people, memory loss, creepy killers and just about anything else you can think of. They are all pieces in a puzzle you don’t have the picture for so it is a surprise when you finally see how they all fit together. And the surprises keep coming to the very last page. There are some points that are a bit of a stretch and push you almost to the point of unbelief and it also stops just short of being too convoluted and becoming confusing. But it is written well enough that it never really loses you. It’s a good fast paced thriller. ( )
  bedda | Dec 25, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harlan Cobenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ferrer, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Milla, CarlosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Babe, give me your best memory, But it don't equal pale ink." - Chinese proverb adapted for lyrics in song "Pale Ink" by the Jimmy X Band (Written by James Xavier Farmington. All rights reserved.)
This book is for Jack Armstrong, because he's one of the good guys.
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Scott Duncan sat across from the killer.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451213203, Mass Market Paperback)

An ordinary snapshot causes a mother’s world to unravel in an instant. After picking up her two young children from school, Grace Lawson looks through a newly developed set of photographs. She finds an odd one in the pack: a mysterious picture from perhaps twenty years ago, showing four strangers she can’t identify. But there is one face she recognizes—that of her husband, from before she knew him.

When her husband sees the photo that night, he leaves their home and drives off without explanation. She doesn’t know where he’s going, or why he’s leaving. Or if he’s ever coming back. Nor does she realize how dangerous the search for him will be. Because there are others interested in both her husband’s past and that photo, including Eric Wu: a fierce, silent killer who will not be stopped from finding his quarry, no matter who or what stands in his way.

Her world turned upside down, filled with doubts about her herself and marriage, Grace must confront the dark corners of her own tragic past she struggles to learn the truth, find her husband, and save her family.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:13 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A seemingly innocuous twenty-year-old photograph turns Grace Lawson's peaceful life upside down when her husband, Jack, mysteriously vanishes with the photograph and unanswered questions threaten her marriage and everything she knows.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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