The Match (2022) by Harlan Coben

The man known only as Wilde was found wandering in the New Jersey woods as a child, able to read and write but with no memory before his experiences living wild. Persuaded to take a DNA test, Wilde discovers a close relative – a reality TV star who has disappeared following the exposure of his behaviour on the internet. Determined to find the truth about what happened, and who exactly the relative is, Wilde begins to look for him, never expecting the trouble he is getting into.

A community has been patrolling the internet, dedicating to finding and punishing anonymous online trolls. Links soon appear between this group and Wilde’s investigation, but when people begin to die, it seems that a ruthless killer has surfaced. But what is their agenda and will Wilde end up in their sights?

A new Harlan Coben book is always a fun read. I rather enjoyed Wilde’s first outing, The Boy From The Woods, but the author had made life hard for himself with this one. You see his last book, Win, was outstanding. A really fresh feeling novel with a gripping narrative voice, following it up was going to be difficult. This is a perfectly good Harlan Coben book – it’s just Win was brilliant.

This one does take a little while to get all the pieces in place and then start moving in the right direction, but I did like the fact that Coben refused to draw out some of the soap opera elements, especially with Wilde’s love-life. The character of his godson in particular worked well to move things along, rather than being the two or three book obstacle that some authors would have made him.

At the end of the day, this is a satisfying read with an interesting idea at the heart of it – two, in fact, with the DNA stuff and the troll hunters. I could have done with a better reason for the escalation of the killer’s activities, but overall, this is another solid book from a master thriller writer. I do hope Win 2 is on the way though…

The Match is out now in hardback and ebook in the UK. Many thanks for the review e-copy.

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