You may have first seen his name attached to Netflix shows or on one of the millions of books he has in print, and now you’re wondering which are the best Harlan Coben books.
This list primarily features standalone psychological thrillers with complex relationships, various timelines, and epic twists. So, keep reading to discover his best 10 books according to tens of thousands of readers on Goodreads.
Who is Harlan Coben?
An award-winning and bestselling author, Harlan Coben writes compelling and riveting mystery thrillers. However, with more than 35 books it may be difficult to figure out which book you should read first. If you would prefer to read all of his books in publication order, you can check out this article about all the Harlan Coben books in order.
But, if you would like to see which books are the best of the best, then this list of the 10 best Harlan Coben books will be perfect.
He has sold more than 75 million copies worldwide and won an Edgar Award, a Shamus Award, and an Anthony Award. He was the first author to win all three, emphasizing his status as one of the best authors in the genre. This is why we’ve looked at the opinions of thousands of readers by leveraging Goodreads data to compile this list of his best books.
Coben was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in the state with his wife Anne and their four children.
10 Best Harlan Coben Books
Creating a list of the best books by any author is highly subjective to the individual reader. However, this list looks at the opinions of thousands of readers by utilizing Goodreads data to determine the 10 best Harlan Coben books. This will combine both the number of ratings and the average rating to place each book on this list.
10. Gone for Good
Starting our list as the tenth best Harlan Coben book is Gone for Good, which was published nearly 20 years ago. On Goodreads it has a 4.11 average rating with more than 56,000 ratings.
This first book utilizes one of the tropes that Coben is most well-known for, which is dual timelines. He crafts a web of intrigue through different time periods, switching between past and present. Then he brings everything together in one final shocking conclusion.
As a boy, Will Klein had a hero: His older brother, Ken. Then, on a warm suburban night in the Kleins’ affluent New Jersey neighborhood, a young woman — a girl Will had once loved — was found brutally murdered in her family’s basement. The prime suspect: Ken Klein.
With the evidence against him overwhelming, Ken simply vanished. And when his shattered family never heard from Ken again, they were sure he was gone for good.
Now eleven years have passed. Will has found proof that Ken is alive. And this is just the first in a series of stunning revelations as Will must confront startling truths about his brother, and even himself.
As a violent mystery unwinds around him, Will knows he must press his search all the way to the end. Because the most powerful surprises are yet to come.
9. Run Away
The next book is a more recent publication from 2019: Run Away. It has another high average rating on Goodreads with 4.05 with more than 58,000 ratings from readers. It poses a question to readers of how far would you go to bring your daughter back?
The book summary begins with the statement that you’ve lost your daughter. She has a drug addiction and an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.
Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.
You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home. She runs.
And you do the only thing a parent can do. You follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed.
Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.
8. Don’t Let Go
The next title on this list repeats another common theme in Harlan Coben’s writing and that is, once more, the intricacies of family. Don’t Let Go also has another impressive 4.05 average rating from more than 59,000 ratings.
Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school. That was when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks. And Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation.
For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for.
When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions. About the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up. But mostly about Leo and Diana — whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.
The seventh best Harlan Coben book according to Goodreads data is Caught. It has an average rating of 4.00 from more than 62,000 ratings.
Seventeen-year-old Haley McWaid is a good girl, the pride of her suburban New Jersey family. She is captain of the lacrosse team, heading off to college next year with all the hopes and dreams her doting parents can pin on her. Which is why, when her mother wakes one morning to find that Haley never came home the night before, and three months quickly pass without word from the girl, the community assumes the worst.
Meanwhile, Wendy Tynes is a reporter on a mission. She wants to identify and bring down sexual predators via elaborate — and nationally televised — sting operations.
Working with local police on her news program Caught in the Act, Wendy and her team have publicly shamed dozens of men by the time she encounters her latest target. Dan Mercer is a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens. But his story soon becomes more complicated than Wendy could have imagined.
6. Six Years
The next book on our list brings in more various timelines that will leave you questioning almost everything right until the very end. Six Years has an average rating of 3.83 on Goodreads from nearly 77,000 ratings.
Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Many years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd.
But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for…but she is not Natalie.
Whoever the mourning widow is, she’s been Todd’s wife for more than a decade. And with that fact, everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life — a time he has never gotten over — is turned completely inside out.
As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. He cannot find any mutual friends of the couple or they don’t remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years.
Jake’s search for the woman who broke his heart — and who lied to him — soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on carefully constructed fiction.
5. The Boy from the Woods
Entering into the top five best Harlan Coben books is The Boy from the Woods. It is the first book in the Wilde series, which is a brand-new series from Coben with two publications so far. It has a 3.94 average rating from more than 75,000 ratings.
The man known as Wilde is a mystery to everyone, including himself. Decades ago, he was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. After the police concluded an exhaustive hunt for the child’s family, which was never found, he was turned over to the foster system.
Now, thirty years later, Wilde still doesn’t know where he comes from. But he’s back living in the woods on the outskirts of town, content to be an outcast, comfortable only outdoors, preferably alone, and with few deep connections to other people.
When a local girl goes missing, famous TV lawyer Hester Crimstein — with whom Wilde shares a tragic connection — asks him to use his unique skills to help find her. Meanwhile, a group of ex-military security experts arrive in town, and when another teen disappears, the case’s impact expands far beyond the borders of the peaceful suburb.
Wilde must return to the community where he has never fit in. Here 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.
4. The Stranger
The fourth best Harlan Coben book according to Goodreads data is The Stranger. It has an average rating of 3.89 from nearly 81,000 ratings.
The eponymous Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store.
His identity is unknown, his motives are unclear, and his information is undeniable.
Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.
Adam Price has a lot to lose. A comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: A big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life.
Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all.
Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne’s deception. He realizes that if he doesn’t make exactly the right moves, this conspiracy will not only ruin lives — it will end them.
3. Fool Me Once
Entering in the number three spot is Fool Me Once, which brings in complex familial relationships, different timelines, and many hidden secrets. It has an average rating of 3.94 from nearly 89,000 ratings.
Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work. Her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe — who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier.
The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: Can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to?
To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past, before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband — and herself.
2. The Woods
The penultimate best Harlan Coben book is The Woods with an average rating of 4.05 from nearly 91,000 ratings. Once more it brings in familial relationships and flashback timelines to unravel the mystery.
Twenty years ago, four teenagers disappeared in the woods at summer camp. Two decades later, everything changes…
Paul Copeland’s sister was one of the missing teenagers. Now raising a daughter alone after the death of his wife, he balances family life with a career as a prosecutor. But when a body turns up, the well-buried secrets of the past threaten everything.
Could the victim be one of the missing teenagers? Could his sister be alive? Copeland has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: His first love, Lucy; his mother, who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his parents have been hiding…
1. Tell No One
Finally, with more than 142,000 ratings and an average rating of 4.09 is the best Harlan Coben book according to Goodreads users: Tell No One.
For Dr. David Beck, the loss was shattering. And every day for the past eight years, he has relived the horror of what happened.
The gleaming lake. The pale moonlight. The piercing screams.
The night his wife was taken. The last night he saw her alive.
Everyone tells him it’s time to move on, to forget the past once and for all. But for David Beck, there can be no closure. A message has appeared on his computer, a phrase only he and his dead wife know.
Suddenly Beck is taunted with the impossible — that somewhere, somehow, Elizabeth is alive. But Beck has been warned to tell no one. And he doesn’t.
Instead, he runs from the people he trusts the most, plunging headlong into a search for the shadowy figure whose messages hold out a desperate hope. But already someone is hunting Beck down. He’s headed straight into the heart of a dark and deadly secret — and someone intends to stop him before he gets there.
Final thoughts on best Harlan Coben books
In conclusion, here are the top ten best Harlan Coben books according to Goodreads users. This list heavily favors his standalone novels.
- Tell No One
- The Woods
- Fool Me Once
- The Stranger
- The Boy From the Woods
- Six Years
- Don’t Let Go
- Run Away
- Gone for Good
Any Coben book that you pick up will have you racing through the pages to find out the conclusion to his thrilling mysteries. He is well-known for his flashback timelines, interwoven threads, and family relationships.
Do you agree with this list of the best Harlan Coben books? Let us know in the comments below.
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