Today we are really excited to welcome bestselling author, HARLAN COBEN
The book opens with a character resembling a Jungle Book personality, Mowgli. Thirty years ago, a boy who was eventually named Wilde was found with no memory of his past as he came out of the woods. He became friends with David, the son of Hester Crimstein, a television criminal attorney. After David died in a car accident Wilde became a “step-father” to Matthew. Worried about a bullied classmate, Matthew approaches his grandmother, Hester, and Wilde, fearing that something disastrous has happened to Naomi. As Wilde and Hester ratchet up their investigative skills to find Naomi, another youth goes missing as the plot thickens.
Readers will enjoy learning about Wilde’s backstory. In 1986 a boy approximately six years old is found living on his own in the woods near Westville, N.J. Raised in foster care, he excelled in school and even more so in the military where he was a member of an elite group taking part in secret missions, after graduating from West Point. Now as an adult, he still remains somewhat reclusive and continues to live in the forest in an eco-friendly but technologically advanced pod-like structure that can be moved around at will.
Although this book has a hodgepodge of sub-plots the main plot is riveting. Readers easily can connect with the engrossing characters and will want more stories involving Wilde and Hester. They are deeply invested and want to know what will happen to them next.
Elise Cooper: You wrote a Jungle Book Mowgli type of character?
Harlan Coben: I was hiking in the woods. I saw a 5 or 6-year-old boy walking around. The “what if” took over and I thought about a boy who would come out of the woods and not remember anything. He basically raised himself and is kind of feral. Even thirty years later, no one ever claimed him. After being found he was compared to a Tarzan or Mowgli. This became the seed for the story.
EC: How would you describe Wilde?
HC: He is most comfortable in the woods, since he does not connect very well. I think he is quiet, fiercely loyal, caring, strong, athletic, and anti-social.
EC: You have more of Hester Crimstein’s backstory, a character that has been in previous books, a Judge Judy type?
HC: She is Jewish and based on a number of women I grew up with including my mother, basically a tough broad. Steven Weber did her voice for the audio book. He said he based the Jewish grandmother voice on Howard Stern’s imitation of his mother. I gave her the last name of Crimstein because it has “crime” in it. Hester is outspoken and family minded. I enjoyed giving her a romance.
EC: How would you describe Matthew, Hester’s grandson?
HC: A normal child who wants to do want is right, but sometimes is unable to. He connects with Wilde after his father died. Matthew tries to fit in and wants to be a part of the popular crowd. As many of us had to experience, he has to handle high school politics.
EC: You cover a lot of topics in this book?
HC: When I start to write a book, I think about what I want to emphasize. In this one I wanted to cover fake news, extremism, cult leaders, and moral obligations. I know the beginning and ending of a story and what I think about just flows into the book. When I write a book, I am like a boxer. I do not save any punches for the next time around.
EC: One of the topics was bullying?
HC: Unfortunately, many do experience it. There is always that person who is picked upon, which is not something new in today’s world. I wondered how they could make it through the day with this terrible treatment. I think it is worse now. Years ago, before social media, those bullied had a reprise when they went home.
EC: The Stranger came out on Netflix, what do you think of it?
HC: It changed a lot from the book. Most of the changes were either my idea or approved by me. I was the creator and I had control. I did not want to do the exact same story over again. I believe a novel is a novel and a TV show is a TV show. It is like a recorded song. When another artist records it they should change it, for example making it slower or faster.
EC: Next TV shows and book?
HC: I never tell about my next book, but it will be out this time next year. The Woods is out this summer on Netflix. It has both sub-titles and dubbing since it was made in Poland. Another book, The Innocent was being filmed in Spain but production stopped because of the virus.
A man with a mysterious past must find a missing teenage girl in this shocking thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away.
Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. Now an adult, he still doesn’t know where he comes from, and another child has gone missing.
No one seems to take Naomi Pine’s disappearance seriously, not even her father-with one exception. Hester Crimstein, a television criminal attorney, knows through her grandson that Naomi was relentlessly bullied at school. Hester asks Wilde-with whom she shares a tragic connection-to use his unique skills to help find Naomi.
Wilde can’t ignore an outcast in trouble, but in order to find Naomi he must venture back into the community where he has never fit in, a place where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.
Book Beginnings / First Chapter First Paragraph / Tuesday Teaser!