Harlan Coben is known for his bestselling mysteries, but he is now making a big name for himself for the shows he’s helping to create and write for television, three that can be streamed on Netflix. I’ve watched (I should say binge-watched because once started, it’s hard to stop) three of them – The Five, No Second Chance and Safe. Once you’ve seen one, you’ll want to see the others.
The Five. In 1995, Mark and three of his school friends, are traumatized after Mark’s brother, Jesse, disappears. The four young people were playing in the woods, and, annoyed that five-year old Jesse followed them, told him to leave. Jesse didn’t return home and a serial killer, Jakob Marosi, confessed to the killing. Jesse’s body was never found and the four have gone through life carrying the burden of the tragedy. But when Jesse’s DNA turns up at a crime scene, the four come together, trying to figure out if Jesse is indeed still alive and, if so, where he has been all these years. This was Coben’s first original series for television, originally broadcast on Sky1 in the U.K. (It was filmed in Liverpool and surrounding areas.) The series was so successful, a follow-up titled The Four has been commissioned.
No Second Chance. No Second Chance (Une chance de trop), in French with English subtitles, is adapted from Coben’s 2004 thriller, with some character changes. Dr. Alice Lambert is a pediatrician who wakes up after more than a week in a coma. She learns that she was shot, her husband killed, and her infant daughter, missing. While everyone is sympathetic to her situation, the police begin to focus on Alice as being complicit in her husband’s murder. For her part, Alice is intent – obsessed – with finding her daughter and will stop at nothing to make sure that happens. Clues are scattered throughout this six-episode series, but Coben keeps us guessing until the end. The French cast, beginning with Alexandra Lamey as Alice, are terrific.
Safe. A missing child is a favorite plot line for Coben and it’s a testament to his talents that he never repeats himself. Each story is unique. In Safe, Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) takes on a British accent to play Dr. Tom Delaney, a widowed pediatric surgeon. Delaney and his two daughters live in a gated community where everyone knows everyone, but not their secrets. When Tom’s 16 year-old daughter, Jenny, goes missing there’s no shortage of suspects. Jenny was angry at Tom because he wasn’t there when her mother died. Turns out, Tom’s wife had a terrible secret that her daughter found out about after her death. But knowing that secret has placed Jenny in danger. It’s a race against the clock as Tom attempts to find out what his wife was hiding and why Jenny decided not to confide in him. A roller-coaster ride for sure.
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