The Boy from the Woods

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Member Reviews

A huge plot line with multiple, sometimes overwhelming, subplots by the talented author, the story had everything going for it from politics to bullying to conspiracy. 

Wilde was the boy from the woods who didn't remember his past. When a teen went missing he was hired to search for her.

Having read many books by the author, I was pulled into the action packed story where the characters played their part to keep me intrigued.

It was more like an action thriller movie with many scenes added to it as the book progressed, rather than a truly suspenseful novel. Overall, a good escape from real life.
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I enjoyed this right from the start, I love this author and this book was exact what I needed to sink into just now. 

As always with Cobens writing I enjoy the way he includes sarcasm into some of his characters and this was done well with the characters in this book. I particularly liked Hester and Wilde 🤪

For me some more ‘bigger’ developments could have happened earlier on in the book but then we may have lost potential scene setting which could have been detrimental to the process the characters went through so that’s just a niggle of my own, not at all a criticism. 

I loved the route this book took towards the end! As always Coben keeps us guessi - I just wish I’d had more free time to read his quicker!
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EXCERPT: From the North Jersey Gazette April 18 1986


Huge Mystery Surrounding Discovery of 'Real Life Mowgli

WESTVILLE, N.J.- In one of the most bizarre cases in recent history, a wild-haired young boy, estimated to be between six and eight years old, was discovered living on his own in the Ramapo State Forest near the suburb of Westville. Even more bizarre, authorities have no idea who the boy is or how long he had been there.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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, and 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, and 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.

MY THOUGHTS: I have read better books by Harlan Coben, and I have read worse ones. The Boy From the Woods sits somewhere in the middle. It's not a bad read, but neither is it anything special. I wasn't tempted to abandon this read, but I was easily distracted by things I normally ignore when I am reading.

None of the characters were completely convincing. Even Wilde, who was easily the most interesting, was a mass of contradictions. I did enjoy the way Naomi's disappearance was wrapped up.

There are a lot of current issues incorporated into this novel, fake news, political machinations, bullying in the school system and the home. Sometimes less is more.

I think that this may make a better movie than book. There is quite a lot of unbelievable 'action' that would be better portrayed on the big screen.


#TheBoyFromTheWoods #NetGalley

'Being a parent is like being a car mechanic-you can repair the car and take care of the car and keep the car on the road, but you can't fundamentally change the car. If a sports car drives into your garage for repairs, it isn't driving out a SUV. Same with kids.'

THE AUTHOR: Harlan Coben was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Century via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my webpage
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In some ways  this was a classic  Coben like the multiple  strands of stories and layers of sub plots but in other ways it didn’t seem like one of his books at all. I checked at the end if I had missed a prequel as there seemed to be something missing. The two main characters are Wilde ( the boy in the title) and Hester and unfortunately I never gelled with either of them so I never found myself gripped by them or the story. Not the worst book I’ve ever read by a long way but not one of Coben’s best. Promised more than it delivered but I do think there is the opportunity to develop Hester and Wilde more but in a les# muddled story next time.
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Harlan Coben is one of those exceptional guys. Really nice when you meet him; he has a great sense of humour, is a family man and a belter of a novelist. This is a man whose books I have been reading for years and who never fails to offer interest and excitement even, like now, in the most distracting of times. Simply put, he knows how to tell a good story.

Our protagonist is Wilde, who as a young boy lived in the woods of Ramapo Mountain State Forest, N.J. foraging for himself and knowing nothing about where he came from or what his parentage is, until he was found and looked after.

Now Wilde is a grown man with a distinguished service history who is now a partner in a security firm with his ‘sister’ who was in the home he was brought up in. Wilde still lives in the woods, in an eco-pod, and he still has the restless spirit that doesn’t like to be confined in any place for too long. As a boy, alone in the woods, he had been David’s invisible best friend and that friendship stuck until David was killed in a road accident on the mountains. Now Wilde looks out for his godson, David’s son Matthew Crimstein and his mother, Laila.

Naomi Pine is ‘that girl’ at Matthew’s school. The one who isn’t popular; the one who sits alone and is bullied for the sheer affrontery of being different.  When she disappears, Matthew, who likes her but has never had the courage to openly side with her, asks his grandmother Lawyer and TV personality, Hester Crimstein what can be done to find her.

Crash Maynard is the polar opposite of Naomi. He’s the cool, rich guy. His parents are documentary film makers and their friends are all involved in the movers and shakers world of celebrity, film making and politics.

When Crash goes missing, despite the Maynards top notch security, Wilde is called on for help. Have Naomi and Crash’s disappearances got something in common?

Harlan Coben’s skill is in creating vivid, memorable characters and putting them into exciting situations fraught with danger and full of secrets and lies. He takes real life and skews it just enough to have a truth based foundation for some spectacular story spinning and gosh, but it doesn’t half work well.

His understanding of social media manipulation is a brilliant expose of how to manage a reputational crisis and bend the masses to your will.

Best of all, Coben has left a distinct clue that there will be more to come from his Wilde character, and that’s great news for his millions of fans.

Verdict: Exceptional story-telling, well drawn and  vivid characterisation and a fast-paced and riveting plotline carry the reader along open mouthed as layer upon layer is peeled back to reveal the truth. I needed this diversion from grim reality and now feel much better for it. Highly recommended.
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Harlan Cohen is one of my favourite authors, his Myron Bolitar series is both witty and pacey.

The Boy From The Woods is a stand alone novel. Wilde, no first name, is the boy who was discovered living in the wild in the woods, there’s no real explanation of why. Years later he is an ex special forces, loner investigator searching for Naomi, the target of the class bully, who has gone missing, then the bully goes missing! Confused? Add in a couple of distracting side plots and an unsatisfactory ending 😤

Not my favourite Coben book.
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He was found wandering the New Jersey woods, a child who, despite living wild, could read and write. Nobody knew where he came from, least of all himself. But he grew up, made good friends and near-family, joined the army and now lives off the grid. But when a girl goes missing, his friend, the criminal attorney Hester Crimstein, contacts him for his help.
No one seems particular concerned, apart from Hester’s grandson, but it seems that something sinister is going on. And when a brief glimpse of hope is shattered when another child disappears, it seems somebody is desperate to find a long-hidden secret – or to expose it…
You might or might not have watched the recent Netflix series, The Stranger. It was rather good, full of good performance and some very tense moments, twisting all over the place. I thought the last episode, where everything had to be tied up, didn’t quite work, in part with the realisation that a number of the plot strands had nearly nothing to do with the main story – you expect red herrings in a mystery, but there seemed to be a lot here.
Anyway, that was based on a book by Harlan Coben. Coben has an important part in my reading history, as he was an author that I was reading in an hiatus of a few years of reading crime fiction in my late twenties. The Myron Bolitar books are a really strong series of American mysteries that I still recall fondly. Since then, however, Coben has concentrated for the most part on standalone thrillers.
But is this standalone? Wilde is an interesting lead, and there are still a number of open questions about him. I’d certainly be interested in reading more about him after this book.
It’s a good twisty thriller, starting with a disappearing girl and spiralling up to involve a possible future president of the USA. The pacing is smart and there’s some clever misdirection without ever resorting to gimmicky tricks like an unreliable narrator. The central characters, Wilde and Crimstein, are well constructed, and I do hope the plan is to see more of them.
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Well if you already love Harlan Coben books you won't be disappointed with this new one.

Good characters that you don't want to leave at the end. Good plot as always. Holds your attention and chapters run smoothly into the next

Roll on the hext HC novel. Write quicker!!
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Thirty years ago a young boy was discovered living ferally in some woods near New York. No one could find where he had come from and no one claimed to know him. Move on to the present day and Wilde, as the boy became known, is still living near to where he was found but is living under the radar keeping his whereabouts secret. He has worked for the armed forces and in security and when a young teen goes missing a top lawyer asks for his help.
It appears that the missing girl has been badly bullied at school and one boy in particular, Crash Maynard, is implicated. He is the son of an extremely wealthy and connected couple who themselves become thrown into the middle of the investigation.
There are numerous threads as you would expect from Harlan Corben and some misdirects. I’m not sure it’s his best but still an engaging read.
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One day I will read a Harlan Coben's book I don't like but I can say I loved this one.
Wilde was my favorite characters and I appreciated the character development and his story.
The plot is gripping and fast paced, it keeps you hooked and turning pages as fast as you can.
The cast of characters is well thought and they are interesting.
It was an excellent read, highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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A stand alone novel, but I would like to see how these characters develop.
Wilde was discovered in the woods with no idea how he arrived there or who are his family.
Now a decorated former soldier, he still prefers to live alone in the woods.
Until a local girl goes missing.
This is where this story starts but does not end there!
I was entranced by this book and devoured it. I am eagerly waiting for the next Harlan Coven!!
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4 Stars from me

Classic Coben! The book packs so much in that you will fast be immersed in the story and invested in the characters.

Wilde is a 'Jack Reacher' style guy with an incredible past that ties him to the family of ruthless criminal attorney Hester Crimstein. He is liked and respected by men and adored by (several) women.

The story focuses on a missing teenager and a murky political past but also manages to weave in some nice emotive touches and several peaks of tension.

Overall, very Coben and very readable!
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The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben was truly unputdownable for me. I loved the skilled  mixture of elements in this book. Observation of human behaviour particularly with Crash, Matthew and Naomi. Wilde’s intriguing story (I just know there’s definitely more of that to come) and the political and societal backdrop of the Maynards and Rusty alongside the all-American ex military guys. Without spoilers I’ll have to leave it there but I hope I’ve conveyed how there’s something for everyone-did I mention co-ercive control, commitment issues and trauma? I especially loved the potential romance for Hester- there’s life in us old dogs, and healing with the right people and circumstances if we open ourselves to it.  A cracking five star read I loved every page.
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I enjoyed this book. It is well written and kept my attention to the end. I liked the originality of the story and thought it all cane together in a satisfying ending. 

I’d like to thank the author, publisher and netgalley for providing me with this advance digital copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. Highly recommended.
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My thanks to Random House U.K. Cornerstone Century for an eARC via NetGalley of Harlan Coben’s latest thriller, ‘The Boy From The Woods’, in exchange for an honest review.

As with every other novel that I have read by Coben, this proved very entertaining and a total page-turner. 

Thirty years ago, a young boy was found living feral in the New Jersey back woods. He had no memory of his previous life and after an exhaustive search no family was ever found. He adopted the name Wilde and when he turned eighteen enlisted. After his discharge he became a security expert. Wilde prefers to live off the grid, choosing to be an outsider, and interacting with only a small circle.

Teenager Matthew expresses concern about his classmate, Naomi, to his grandmother, Hester Crimstein. The girl was being bullied and after a cruel prank has gone missing.

Hester is a criminal lawyer with a popular television show. She is also a close friend to Wilde. When she finds that Naomi’s family seems unconcerned and evasive, she asks Wilde to use his unique skills to find her. Then another teen in the same class goes missing. This time it’s the head bully, an entitled rich boy. 

I am reluctant to say more about the plot in order to avoid spoilers. However, in the mix is a self-help guru turned US senator aiming for high office and rumours of embarrassing material that could sabotage his campaign.

In order to discover how this thinly veiled reference mixes with two missing teens, you will need to read the book. I thought it was very clever. Added to the thrills was also a bit of romance. I found it a very satisfying read with Hester and Wilde proving to be appealing lead characters.

Actually Hester Crimstein had already appeared as a supporting character in Coben’s 2019, ‘Run Away’, and it was great to see her again and learn more about her life.  

While this appears to be a stand-alone, I would love to read more adventures featuring the enigmatic Wilde so fingers crossed for this being a series.
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Naomi Pine has gone missing and Hester Crimstein asks Wilde, a boy who grew up in the woods, to find her. 
To start off, this story was good. The race to find Naomi was on and there were some strange things going on. But then she was found and it was if the story started again. Which I thought a very odd way of writing. Because a few days later, she was missing again and Wilde has to find her, again. 
I am a big fan of Harlen Coben but I’m afraid this story just didn’t get me hooked. There was also a lot of political stuff going on, which I just glazed over and too many characters, it was hard to keep up. 
I’m afraid I didn’t finish the book, but thank you for the ARC Netgalley
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A teenage girl has gone missing and she needs to be found before disastrous consequences are about to hit the community..... and the world. Yet there is a man that can help, and that man is Wilde, who has been a mystery to everyone including himself.

Wilde was found decades ago, living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. A family was never found, and was therefore handed to the foster system. Now 30 years later, Wilde is living back in the woods on the outskirts of town, comfortable in his own surroundings, preferring to be alone and in the outdoors.
When the local girl goes missing, Wilde enlists the help from the famous TV lawyer, Hester Crimstein, with whom he shares a tragic connection with. Another teenager then disappears, and Then Wilde must then return to this community where he has never fit in and try to uncover secrets, before it is too late.

Harlan Coben is superb at thrillers and this certainly does not disappoint.
Wilde was a great character to get to know, how we got to know how he grew up from being a child in the woods, to the man he became. The insecurities, the love for the outdoors, the distancing from everything city life that he then had to endure to help find the missing girl.
My favourite character was Hester, I loved her! Very sassy, classy and smart, whilst saying it like it is. Her attitude is brilliant and when she gets onto this case, then she expects things to be done. 

As soon as I started this book, I was hooked until the very last page and enjoyed every bit. Very well written, engrossing, thrilling, suspenseful and with twists and turns in every way possible, this is one of my favourite of the year so far.
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I first discovered Harlan Coben with TELL NO ONE and the novels which followed it, novels about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary situations. Later I found his Myron Bolitar series, with his series character, a sports agent come investigator. THE BOY FROM THE WOODS is almost a hybrid of the two. There is an unusual character, Wilde, the titular ‘boy’, who was actually discovered as a child living in the woods alone, who has the potential to be that series character, Coben’s own Jack Reacher or Joe Pike, with a dollop of IQ-like Holmesian deductive skills thrown in. This is not to suggest that Coben has become derivative - he is still the exciting writer of suspense he has always been - just that he has found a character with the potential to rival those mentioned.

The plot is intriguing - a disappearance or is it a kidnapping; rich media-types; spoilt, bullying school kids and those caught in their orbit - and is held together by a cast of characters, particularly Wilde and his surrogate mother-figure, TV-lawyer, Hester Crimstein, of whom we look forward to meeting again. A very good thriller from a master of the thriller and the promise of a first-class series.
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Harlan Coben is famous for his edge-of-your-seat thrillers, usually in a domestic setting, where old secrets threaten to tear a family apart. This story is slightly different. I think it is now my favourite of all his books but please don't make me choose!

Hester Crimstein is a seventy-year-old defence attorney who is also famous for her own television show (something like Judge Judy). Her grandson, Matthew, is worried about a girl who has gone missing at school - a girl that nobody likes and whom everyone picks on. Hester asks Wilde (a family friend who is also a private investigator) to look into the case for her. Wilde is a very interesting character: a man who was found living 'feral' in the woods as a child. Although incredibly smart, he's not been able to adjust to 'normal' life and still lives in a self-contained 'pod' in the forest. As he investigates the girl's disappearance, another teenager goes missing - and a human finger is posted to the parents...

My favourite character was the ass-kicking Hester but I did love Wilde and his intriguing backstory, and was rooting for him to have his own happy ending. Harlan Coben is a master at writing fast-paced thrillers so I was chomping down on my nails for a large chunk of the book, and his twists are always second-to-none. I read a lot of crime fiction, so it's a big deal for me when I can't guess the ending. I shall definitely be re-reading to see how he fooled me. Utterly brilliant and thoroughly recommended for all Harlan's fans, and readers of authors such as Linwood Barclay and Lee Child.

Thank you to Harlan Coben and Cornerstone (Century) for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.
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The Boy From The Woods is an ok thriller, but honestly I found it to be far from Harlan Coben's best. The premise is that a teenage girl goes missing, but instead of a book about searching for her, the plot turns all political, and I found it to be ho hum. The book is not without memorable characters, Hester and Wilde both deserving of further novels, but the bit players were boring, the action pretty much non-existent and I was never riveted in any way. It's a shame as I've always found Coben to be a must read, however this book misses the mark.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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