Master of mystery: 9 thrilling Harlan Coben dramas to watch right now

Stay Close, the latest drama based on the works of bestselling author Harlan Coben, is coming to Netflix soon. Here are nine other thrilling Coben adaptations to track down and enjoy…

By Rhys Lewis Published: 23 August 2021 - 10.22am
Netflix Harlan Coben's The Stranger

Missing people, mysterious strangers, brutal murders and decades-old secrets returning to haunt the seemingly innocent – the irresistible ingredients of Harlan Coben’s thrillers have kept them on top of the bestseller lists for almost a quarter of a century.

Now the prolific author is winning a whole new set of fans thanks to a series of gripping TV adaptations of his 33 novels.

The Five, Safe and The Stranger had viewers hooked when they premiered in the UK, and the next Coben series, Stay Close, should be no different.

Stay Close is an adaptation of Coben's 2012 novel produced by Netflix and stars James Nesbitt, Cush Jumbo, Richard Armitage, Sarah Parish, Jo Joyner and Eddie Izzard.

Harlan Coben AFP/Getty
Harlan Coben's 33 novels have sold 75 million copies and have been translated into 43 languages.

The drama, which is the fifth product of a multi-million-dollar five-year deal between Coben and Netflix to adapt 14 of his books, wrapped at the end of July and is expected to premiere on the service in late 2021 or early 2022.

Given that his novels have been translated into 43 languages, it’ll come as no surprise that the Netflix productions, and the five Coben projects released before the tie-in, are in a variety of international languages and settings, relocated from his native New Jersey to Manchester, Paris, Warsaw and beyond.

While we wait for Stay Close to arrive, or if you’ve seen a Harlan Coben adaptation and want to enjoy more of the plot twists and turns he is renowned for, here are nine series and films to keep you gripped…

Safe

Safe Ben Blackall/Netflix

Widower Tom Delaney is struggling to connect with his two teenage daughters as they grieve the loss of his wife from cancer. After a party in their close-knit gate community in Manchester, elder daughter Jenny goes missing along with her boyfriend Chris, whose teacher mother, Zoe, has been accused of having an affair with a student. As he investigates Jenny’s disappearance, Tom unearths decades-old secrets about his wife, their friends and their neighbours.

Safe is a Netflix Original series created by Coben and written by Danny Brocklehurst (Shameless, Brassic), and stars Michael C Hall, Amy James-Kelly (above), Amanda Abbington, Marc Warren, Hannah Arterton and Nigel Lindsay.

Watch Safe on Netflix

The Stranger

The Stranger Netflix

Adam Price is a happily married father of two whose life is thrown into turmoil when a stranger – a baseball cap-wearing woman in her 20s - tells him that his wife Corinne faked a pregnancy and miscarriage, and suggests he gets his children DNA tested. After Adam confronts Corinne, she disappears, while the Stranger’s further revelations – and a series of mysterious events – draw the Prices’ friends and neighbours into her deadly web of intrigue.

The Stranger was the first series released under Coben's five-year deal with Netflix, and stars Richard Armitage, Siobhan Finneran, Shaun Dooley, Paul Kaye, Dervla Kirwan and Hannah John-Kamen.

Watch The Stranger on Netflix

The Woods

The Woods Netflix

In 2019, Warsaw prosecutor Paweł Kopiński is called upon to identify the body of a murder victim who was found with newspaper clippings about him. The murder seems to be linked to the August 1994 summer camp where Paweł was a chaperone, during which two people were murdered and two others - including his sister Kamila - went missing without a trace.

Polish-produced six-part drama W głębi lasu (‘Deep in the Forest’) is the second Coben adaptation to be released by Netflix under the terms of their five-year deal. It is based on his 2007 novel, The Woods.

Stars Grzegorz Damięcki, Agnieszka Grochowska, Hubert Miłkowski and Wiktoria Filus.

Watch The Woods on Netflix (Polish audio, English subtitles)

The Innocent

The Innocent Netflix

Nine years ago, Mateo Vidal Rivera intervened in a quarrel and accidentally killed a man. Having served his time, Mateo is rebuilding his life – his partner, Olivia, is pregnant and they are about to move into their dream home. But then Mateo receives a strange call from Olivia’s mobile and – aided by police inspector Lorena Ortiz - sets off on a frantic race to discover the truth.

Eight-part drama El inocente is the third Coben adaptation to be produced by Netflix under the terms of their five-year deal. It is based on his 2005 novel, The Innocent. It stars Mario Casas, Aura Garrido and Alexandra Jiménez.

Watch The Innocent on Netflix (Spanish audio, English subtitles)

Gone for Good

Gone for Good Netflix

Set on the Cote d’Azur and in the Paris suburb of Ivry-sur-Seine, Disparu à jamais is based on Coben’s 2002 novel Gone for Good. Ten years after witnessing the death of his  ex-girlfriend Sonia and his brother Frédéric, social worker Guillaume is ready to settle down with new girlfriend Judith. But Judith’s sudden disappearance forces Guillaume, best friend Daco and Sonia’s sister Ines to face the ghosts of the past in order to discover the truth about Frédéric and Sonia’s fate.

Stars Finnegan Oldfield, Nailia Harzoune, Guillaume Gouix, Garance Marillier and Nicolas Duvauchelle.

Watch Gone for Good on Netflix (French audio, English subtitles)

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Tell No One

Tell No One CinéCinéma

Dr Alex Beck has slowly been putting his life back together for eight years since the apparent murder of his wife Margot when he finds himself implicated in a double homicide he knows nothing about. The same day, Alex receives an email that appears to be from Margot, warning him that they are both being watched. As he searches for Margot, he finds himself on the run from both the law and the henchmen out to silence him.

Ne le dis à personne, based on Coben’s 2001 novel Tell No One, won four César awards on its 2006 release in French cinemas, including Best Director for Guillaume Canet. Coben has said that the film’s ending was better than the original.

Stars François Cluzet, Marie-Josée Croze, André Dussollier and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Tell No One (French audio, English subtitles) is not currently available for streaming

No Second Chance

No Second Chance VAB Productions

Alice Lambert is preparing a bottle for her six-month-old daughter when she hears two gunshots and is plunged into a nightmarish reality – when she comes out of her coma eight days later her husband has been murdered and her daughter has been kidnapped. Manipulated by the kidnappers and mistrusted by the police, Alice appeals to her childhood sweetheart and cop Richard for help in finding her daughter – and the truth behind her disappearance.

Une Chance de Trop is a 2015 six-part serial based on Coben’s 2003 novel No Second Chance, and stars Alexandra Lamy, Pascal Elbé and Lionel Abelanski.

Watch No Second Chance on All 4 (French audio, English subtitles)

Just One Look

Just One Look VAB Productions

Eva Beaufils leads a quiet life with her husband Bastien and their two children, Salomé and Max. One morning, Eva finds an old photo in her mail in which she recognises her husband, but when she tells him about it, he denies that it is him. While taking their children to a concert, Bastien then disappears, leaving their children alone in a hotel room. With the help of an old friend, Eva discovers that her husband has been leading a double life which she must now try to unravel.

Juste un regard is a 2017 six-part serial based on Coben’s 2004 book, Just One Look, and stars Virginie Ledoyen, Thierry Neuvic and Thierry Frémont.

Watch Just One Look on All 4 (French audio, English subtitles)

The Five

The Five Ben Blackall

Mark, his friends Danny, Slade and Pru and parents Julie and Alan are left devastated when his five-year-old brother Jesse disappears, presumed murdered, after a trip to the park. A serial killer admits killing Jesse but 20 years later the young boy’s DNA is discovered at a murder scene and the four childhood friends reunite in the hope of finding Jesse alive.

The 10-episode drama is created by Harlan Coben and written by Danny Brocklehurst, and stars OT Fagbenie, Lee Ingleby, Sarah Solemani and Tom Cullen.

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