Top 10 Harlan Coben Books

This may be one of the most difficult articles I’ve ever had to write – grading the Top 10 Harlan Coben books.

If you’re not a regular reader – then you won’t know that I only just started reading these. I read them over the course of April and May 2014 – I read every single standalone novel Coben wrote. Each book I picked up and started and quite simply could not put down.

I have not yet read any of his Myron Bolitar or Mickey Bolitar series. One day I will get round to them. But man – these standalone books are absolutely amazing.

I’m writing this in June 2014. The last standalone novel released by Harlan Coben was Missing You in March 2014. Every time he releases a new book, I will be sure to update this list if it fits in. There are 13 Harlan Coben standalone novels right now.

You an also see the complete list of Coben books in publication order here: Harlan Coben.

Now to go through all of these and – ugh – try and pick out what the best ones are. Going to be hard considering every one of them is amazing. Here we go with my Top 10 Harlan Coben Books:

#10: Tell No One

The crazy thing about doing this list is I went through it book by book. This was one of the first books I added, and it immediately went into the #2 spot. Yet as I added more and more it ended up at #10 – that should say how good the quality is with these books because I absolutely loved this one. So good, I even watched the French subtitled version of it on Netflix and I bloody hate subtitled movies.

8 years ago, David Becks wife was murdered. Then he recieves a message on his computer – a secret message that only him and his wife knows. Does that mean she is alive?

#9: Caught

This is a great one about a reporter trying to catch sexual predators. It starts off slow and just builds and builds and builds. It just keeps you going and going leading to a very satisfying ending. This was a good one in seeing how the two stories join near the end.

#8: Gone For Good

Will Kleins ex-girlfriend is murdered, and his brother is the person suspected of it. However he disappears presumed dead. 11 years later, there is proof that his brother is still alive. This one is amazing – the ending still blows my mind, and I had to go back and read the last few chapters 2-3 times to fully appreciate just how amazing it was.

#7: The Woods

20 years ago, there was a bunch of murders at a summer camp. That all comes back while Paul Copeland, the Essex County prosecutor attempts to work on a major case. Like all Coben books you think you have it figured out, then twist after twist(that make sense) hit you and change everything, leading to the usual believable yet amazing ending.

#6: No Second Chance

Dr. Marc Seidman is shot. When he wakes up he discovers that his wife is dead, and his 6 month old daughter has disappeared. What comes next is just….wow. So many layers that come across so well, and many twists that you never see coming and literally leave you shocked.

To explain how good this one was – I was driving back from Toronto and I had about 20% of it left on my Kindle. Despite only a 3 hour drive, I pulled over to a restaurant to have a meal and finish the rest of it. I wasn’t even hungry – I just couldn’t keep driving until I had read how it ended.

#5: Just One Look

The plot to this one is enough to get my goosebumps going. Grace Lawson, happily married mother of two, gets some photographs developed. There’s a picture in there that she has never seen before. She shows it to her husband, who then promptly gets in his car and disappears without saying anything. This is an amazing book that sets the mystery right from the beginning and has you guessing constantly. And like any Coben book – you always guess wrong.

#4: Six Years

This is another one where it starts almost slow – but in a good way. Jake Fisher watched his soulmate walk down the aisle 6 years ago, with the promise of never contacting her again. Then he finds out that her new husband has died. So he decides to contact her – only he can’t. There’s no record of her, no record of the wedding – nothing. The person who died? He was married to someone else for 20 years. Just an incredible story that hooks you and keeps you going and going and going.

#3: Missing You

Kat Donovan, an NYPD Detective, is browsing an online dating site. She sees her old fiancee Jeff on there, and decides to get in contact with him. But then her reaching out to him ends up with her ravelled in a crazy conspiracy where murders keep happening. There wasn’t as many twists in this one as in some of them – but it was still a very thrilling story that you just can’t put down.

#2: Stay Close

Megan is your typical soccer mom. Married, 2 kids, the usual basic life in the suburbs. However Megan has a past – quite the crazy past – and it’s all going to come back and upset everything around her.

Without giving away too much – out of all the Coben books, this one had a twist that I still to this day am stunned by. I’ll always remember it as I never saw it coming – it was so well done, and that is why this is my #2 Harlan Coben book – because it stands out from the rest due to that twist.

#1: Play Dead

Cobens first book. The fact that I read it almost 25 years later and still loved it really says a lot. On top of that, it’s a very different style of book where everyone knows the answers – but no-one is talking. Coben gives us the perspective of people who COULD say stuff yet don’t – and while that’s something I’d usually find frustrating, I found it was written in a very good way where it didn’t tease the reader or taunt them. Instead it just gave you enough while leaving you more.

Whew – I did it, my Top 10 Harlan Coben books.

What are your favourites?

Book Series In Order » Top Lists » Top 10 Harlan Coben Books
  • charmain

    The Bolitar books are the best with the exceptions of Long Lost and Live Wire. Gone for Good, Tell No one, No Second Chance, The Woods are great. Play Dead had way too much filling. Stay Close was predictable and stiff; the blondes were cardboard, and the separate pieces of the did not meld smoothly like they usually do.

    • ArtCatchem

      Actually my library has Deal Breaker the first of the Bolitar Series so i’ll give that a try.

      • Graeme

        Yeah let me know what you think of that one – if you read it and immediately come back here to see what the 2nd book in the Bolitar series is :) I’ve had it on my Kindle forever but just haven’t got round to reading it yet

    • Jess

      Live Wire broke a small piece of my heart.

  • ArtCatchem

    Just found your site and glad I did my library has 9 of your top ten of course they’re all out so I’ll start with Play Dead which they don’t have and then donate it. Hopefully one of the others will be in by that time.

  • Michelle

    Hello and thank you for the order of Harlan Coben’s books along with what are stand alone. I was very glad to find your list and to read that it was difficult for you. I say this because I am reading my first Coben book “Tell No One” I am 25 pages in and love his writing style already and have that feeling of “Ok yes, so I need to read all his books”. I then started to look at what some other readers have to say about his work and found a lot of people saying whatever you read first will be your favorite and the rest don’t compare. I am happy to have found and read your thoughts and to learn that just isn’t true. Thank you !

  • Ellen

    Thanks for this! Just finished Missing You today having never even been aware of Coben before, and loved it – need to read another! Now the question is, start from number 10 and work my way up… or start with the best ones?…