‘The Innocent,’ by Harlan Coben

The Innocent, Harlan Coben

Olivia thought again about how the abused always take the path of self-destruction. They simply could not stop themselves. They take it no matter what the consequences, no matter what the danger. Or maybe, as in her case, they take it for the opposite reason – because no matter how much life has tried to beat them down, they cannot let go of hope.

Another Harlan Coben book in my current little Coben binge. I didn’t love this one, The Innocent, quite as much as I loved Caught, which I reviewed a couple inches down the page. But it’s still a superior book.

Matt Hunter is an ex-con who works as a paralegal. He served a sentence for manslaughter. He’s married to a beautiful woman, Olivia, and they’re deeply in love with each other. She’s just learned she’s pregnant.

And their life is a lie. Olivia isn’t who she says she is.

A nun in a nearby Catholic school is murdered in her room. Police find phone records linking her to Matt’s family. Olivia goes away on a “business trip,” and Matt gets a video on his cell phone, showing her in a bedroom with another man.

Matt sets about finding out the truth – and he refuses to believe Olivia has betrayed him.

The plot is convoluted. The characters are numerous and textured, sometimes surprising us as is Cobin’s style (and I like that). We visit the sordid world of “exotic” dancing, which is not pretty. But the conclusion moved me as much as that of any novel I’ve read in a while.

Recommended. Cautions for violence (but not explicit), sexual situations (also not explicit), and only mild profanity.

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