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Some mistakes can change your life forever…. The horror of one night is forever etched in Matt Hunter’s memory: the night he innocently tried to break up a fight—and ended up a killer. Now, nine years after his release from prison, his innocence long forgotten, he’s an ex-con who takes nothing for granted. With his wife, Olivia, pregnant and the two of them closing on a house in his home town, things are looking up. Until the day Matt gets a shocking, inexplicable video call from Olivia’s phone. And in an instant, the unraveling begins.A mysterious man who begins tailing Matt turns up dead. A beloved nun is murdered. And local and federal authorities--including homicide investigator, Loren Muse, a childhood schoolmate of Matt’s with a troubled past of her own-- see all signs pointing to a former criminal with one murder already under his belt: Matt Hunter. Unwilling to lose everything for a second time, Matt and Olivia are forced outside the law in a desperate attempt to save their future together.An electrifying thrill-ride of a novel that peeks behind the white picket fences of suburbia, THE INNOCENT is at once a twisting, turning, emotionally-charged story, and a compelling tale of the choices we make and the repercussions that never leave us.Includes the exclusive short story Rise and Fall of SuperD Featuring Myron Bolitar Advanced Praise: Coben surpasses Jeffrey Deaver as the most generous plotter in the thriller racket” —Kirkus(starred review) Coben seems to delight in making bad things happen to good people, and he does it again in this, his best book to date.” —Publishers Weekly For Just One Look Harlan Coben is the modern master of the hook-and-twist--luring you in on the first page, only to shock you on the last.” --Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code Stocked with fascinatingly creepy characters, Coben’s keeps-you-guessing mystery is terrifying. The tension doesn’t build slowly; it snaps and crackles right from the get- go…The only plausible reason for setting down this book is to make sure your front door is locked and double-bolted.” —People [Just One Look] is so well-written and compelling. . . .It’s only when the last page turns that the reader has a chance to breathe, say ‘Wow!’ and marvel at the impressively interconnected structure. . . . Just One Lookopens up—over many pages—like an elegantly constructed puzzle box.” —San Jose Mercury News Just as Alfred Hitchcock carved out a niche with films about a seemingly innocent person caught in machinations beyond comprehension, Harlan Coben is earning a reputation for creating the literary equivalent. . . . Just One Lookdelivers more than its share of thrills and keeps us engrossed by the strong characters and fast-clipped plot. . . . Hitchcock would be envious.” —Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel What Hitchcock did for the shower, Coben does for the cell phone... As usual with Coben, an intriguing start, hinging on one out-of-whack technological trick, hurtles into a fast-paced hunter-and-hunted drama. First rate.” --Booklist(starred review)
Winner of the Edgar Award, the Shamus Award, and the Anthony Award, Harlan Coben is the author of eleven previous novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Just One Look, No Second Chance, Gone for Good, and Tell No One, and the popular Myron Bolitar series.
Prologue You never meant to kill him.Your name is Matt Hunter. You are twenty years old. You grew up in an upper-middle- class suburb in northern New Jersey, not far from Manhattan. You live on the poorer side of town, but itis a pretty wealthy town. Your parents work hard and love you unconditionally. You are a middle child. You have an older brother whom you worship, and a younger sister whom you tolerate. Like every kid in your town, you grow up worrying about your future and what college you will get into. You work hard enough and get good, if not spectacular, grades. Your average is an A minus. You donit make the top ten percent but youire close. You have decent extracurricular activities, including a stint as treasurer of the school. You are a letterman for both the football and basketball teamogood enough to play Division III but not for a financial scholarship. You are a bit of a wiseass and naturally charming. In terms of popularity, you hover right below the top echelon. When you take your SATs, your high scores surprise your guidance counselor. You shoot for the Ivy Leagues, but they are just a little out of your reach. Harvard and Yale reject you outright. Penn and Columbia waitlist you. You end up going to Bowdoin, a small elite college in Brunswick, Maine. You love it there. The class sizes are small. You make friends. You donit have a steady girlfriend, but you probably donit want one anyway. In your sophomore year, you start on the varsity football team as a defensive back. You play JV basketball right off the bat, and now that the senior point guard has graduated, you have a serious chance of getting valuable minutes. It is then, heading back to campus between the first and second semester of your junior year, that you kill someone. You have a wonderfully hectic holiday break with your family, but basketball practice beckons. You kiss your mother and father good-bye and drive back to campus with your best friend and roommate, Duff. Duff is from Westchester, New York. He is squat with thick legs. He plays right tackle on the football team and sits the bench for basketball. He is the biggest drinker on campusoDuff never loses a chugging contest. You drive. Duff wants to stop at UMass in Amherst, Massachusetts, on the way up. A high school buddy of his is a member of a wild frat there. They are having a huge party. Youire not enthusiastic, but youire no party pooper. You are more comfortable with smaller gatherings where you pretty much know everyone. Bowdoin has about 1,600 students. UMass has nearly 40,000. It is early January and freezing cold. There is snow on the ground. You see your breath as you walk into the frat house. You and Duff throw your coats on the pile. You will think about that a lot over the years, that casual toss of the coats. If youid kept the coat on, if youid left it in the car, if youid put it anyplace else . . . But none of that happened. The party is okay. It is wild, yes, but it feels to you like a forced wild. Duffis friend wants you both to spend the night in his room. You agree. You drink a fair amountothis is a college party, after allothough not nearly as much as Duff. The party winds down. At some point you both go to get your coats. Duff is holding his beer. He picks up his coat and swings it over his shoulder. That is when some of his beer spills. Not a lot. Just a splash. But itis enough. The beer lands on a red Windbreaker. Thatis one of the things you remember. It was freezing cold outside, in the teens, and yet someone was wearing just a Windbreaker. The other thing you will never shake from your mind is that a Windbreaker is waterproof. The spilled beer, little as it was, would not harm the coat. It would not stain. It could so easily be rinsed away. But someone yells, iHey!i He, the owner of the red Windbreaker, is a big guy but not huge. Duff shrugs.