Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Play Dead” as Want to Read:
Play Dead
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Play Dead

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  10,015 Ratings  ·  1,072 Reviews
Harlan Coben's first novel, now back in print.

No sooner had supermodel Laura Ayers and Celtics star David Baskin said "I do" than tragedy struck. While honeymooning on Australia's Great Barrier Reed, David went out for a swim-and never returned. Now widowed and grieving, Laura's search for the truth will draw her into a web of lies and deception that stretches back thirt

Paperback, 452 pages
Published March 1st 1993 by S.P.I. Books (first published May 1st 1990)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 03, 2016 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, debut
It's official. Major crush on Mr Coben. Loved his letter at the front of his book stating please don't start with this particular book if you haven't read any of his work before, he'll happily wait for you to come back, as he was only a young lad working in advertising and he's a tad fresh.

This is his debut, and it was so cool! I think he's a legend, you could tell he was green just from simple things like lots of parenthesis and a large use of italics, but suspense, entertainment and style is t
Mandy Crider
Mar 27, 2017 Mandy Crider rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can I give this book 10 stars?! 20? 50? 100?! Oh my gosh please pardon my language but reading this book and getting to the end was like a really good orgasm :)

This was Coben's first novel and it reads like his most recent. I've never been so entranced in a novel as I was with this one. The story was freaking fantastic. Laura and David on their honeymoon and then David dies?!

Then the spider web starts to unravel... Laura finds things out that were supposed to be hidden forever but two can't ke
May 07, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, library, audio, 2015
Wow! This book was great - much better than I expected. Lots of twists, turns, mysteries, betrayals, and shocks. Almost everyone in this book seems suspicious at at least some point in time. Several times I thought I had it figured out, and then it blew my mind with a new revelation.

I will definitely be reading more Coben in the future.
Apr 27, 2015 Phrynne rated it really liked it
At the beginning of this book Harlan Coben apologises for it saying he wrote it when he was very young. Well maybe he did and maybe it is not perfect but it is very, very good! I read the whole thing over two days and it was actually unputdownable. I suppose it has some over the top moments and the reader has to be prepared to suspend belief occasionally but it is an excellent mystery and I was way out on the identIty of the killer. The main characters are very likeable, especially Laura who car ...more
Grace Viray
Sep 11, 2012 Grace Viray rated it it was ok
Let’s avoid lengthy introductions and just get down to the point. As a Coben fan (a person who tries to collect all of his novels), I will honestly tell you to please don’t buy this one. Nuh-uh. Save yourself the money and just buy Tell No One or Gone For Good or any other novel of his, EXCEPT this one. Why? This is the first book he has written which just so happens to be re-released after 20 years (the very obvious reason is to cash in on his loyal fans, like me for example) which is why it is ...more
Mar 05, 2012 Seema rated it liked it
When the author himself writes a prologue asking you to please not read the book and apologizing in advance for it being completely idiotic, you know something's wrong. After that prologye, i had to read it of course. How bad could it be? Well, pretty bad and ludicrous in fact, but also fun and with a good energy to it. Harlan Coben was right to warn people away. The plot is idiotic, the characters laughable. If i have to read one more time that the heroine is breathtakingly beautiful, i'll puke ...more
Marijn Woudstra
OK, so this was a major disapointment. When I read the introduction (AFTER I had bought the book) I could have know it would be bad. This is a book Harlan Coben wrote when he was in his 20's and you sure can see it.

It is kitschy, very predictable, with un interesting caracters. And yes, it might be interesting if you are deep, deep into the person of Coben and his development. But I am not. I am into his books which I mostly enjoy a lot, but not this one.

I feel cheeted and it's is a shame the p
May 16, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
I am a huge fan of Harlan Coben. I love reading his books. This particular book is his first ever novel and I can honestly say, that I have never read a book before that had a disclaimer in front written by the author himself. I laughed out loud when he gave a warning that this book contains faults and that he wrote it when he was in his twenties. I was glad that this disclaimer was in there because it saved me from excessive eye rolling and I felt less critical. So that alone is the reason this ...more
Oct 16, 2011 Jim rated it it was ok
Recommended & given to me by my dentist, who said this was Coben's first book & not bad. Coben is a favorite of his. I hope the books got better. The foreshadowing was so bad that I had everything pretty much figured out in the first 50 or so pages. I made it up to about 100 & then started reading a paragraph every 50 pages or so to see if I was missing anything. Nope. It took him over 500 pages to tell the story & I just wasn't that interested in it. While all the characters wer ...more

Our reading group selected this book a few months ago despite its opening disclaimer from Coben.

It does feel quite an immature work, with implausible characters and plot and yet it is possible to see that despite this that it did show promise.

It is my first encounter with Harlan Coben's writing and I'm not put off by it. I look forward to reading his later, more polished works and I am glad that he did include that disclaimer about its roughness.

If nothing else, it kept me entertained for a co
May 24, 2017 Corey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know, I didn't have very high hopes when jumping into Play Dead because first of all I read a lot of mixed reviews, and secondly it's Harlan Coben's first published book and I guess it was reissued in the late 2000's, and also for those of you who have read the book or have seen it you'll notice a note to readers that Coben wrote, that if you're just getting introduced to him or his writing style, to not start with Play Dead, which I never understood because I personally liked the book! You ...more
Jun 08, 2013 Andrea rated it did not like it
Possibly one of the worst books I've read in the past 50 years. Mostly my fault because (A) I didn't read the author's disclaimer at the front of the book, (B) I didn't look at the original copyright date until I was more than half way through, and (C) by the time I realized my mistake, I wanted to finish it for no good reason. (Even before this, it was easy to solve most of the "mysteries" ... and there were many of them.)

I have read many of Coben's more recent works and enjoyed them quite a bi
Dec 01, 2012 Gary rated it really liked it
An excellent novel from one of my favourite writers.
He writes such good original stories that have strong characters and believable plots.
I'm a big fan of Coben but this is the first novel that didn't work for me. Interesting enough this was his first published novel back in the day and wasn't changed much.

I got in about 40 pages and realized I was wasting my time. Too much exposition (like pages and pages at times about characters I had yet to connect with) so I stopped and that's one of the best services you can do for yourself when you have too many books and not enough time.

Just stop.

Nobody is going to punish you.

Or will they
Jan 22, 2011 Melissa rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tom Tischler
Feb 27, 2013 Tom Tischler rated it it was amazing
Boston Celtics superstar David Baskin and ex supermodel Laura
Ayars have decided to get married and are on their honeymoon
in Australia. For some unknown reason David fakes his death
in a drowning accident.Laura turns to Terry Conroy or TC
a Boston detective and David's best friend for help. Laura
discovers on her own that a bunch of weird things have happened
including the disappearance of one half million dollars from
David's bank. Now she no longer trusts TC and her family is
also acting strange. M
Mar 25, 2013 Sciandfaith rated it really liked it
518 pages in total. I must say, this is one of the most lengthy book I've read without stopping for some time. It came as a surprise for me because this is the first book by Harlan Coben I've read and I can safely say it is not going to be the last. ;)

Love how he weaved details of lust, romance, funny and touching moments into his story. True, it may be abit confusing at first as the story kept alternating between the past and present but you will get used to it eventually. His way of writing ma
Lauren Stoolfire
Dec 25, 2014 Lauren Stoolfire rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
The summary for Play Dead is reminiscent of the fantastic Gone Girl and I've never read any of Coben's work, so I thought I would give his first book a shot. Unfortunately, after 40 pages I gave up - I was just so bored I had to put it down. Sorry Mr. Coben, I tried, but you're just not for me.
Apr 14, 2017 Darren rated it it was amazing
I got this book from the store book exchange at the store I have coffee at. I enjoyed reading it. It had a good story to it. I liked the variety of characters in it. I hope to read more books by this author.
Aug 21, 2013 Bandit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Google a photo of a young George Clooney, it'll be goofy with a fabulous mullet to boot. But if you really look, you can see the handsome man he's bound to become as he matures. It's the same sort of thing with Play Dead and Coben even does readers the courtesy of warning them in his caveat emptor of a preface. This book was so long ago, it's old enough to be legally drinking and then some. Coben must have been very young and his style was, shall we say, less polished. It's cheesy, corny and wri ...more
Trish Jackson
Apr 11, 2014 Trish Jackson rated it it was amazing
Harlan Coben is fast becoming one of my most favorite authors. He is so in touch with people's emotions and is able to put them down on paper so you can really feel them.
Laura and David Baskin are very much in love and enjoying their honeymoon on the coast of Australia, when David goes for a swim and drowns.
Laura is devastated. She has no idea that David's death is linked to a series of events that took place more than thirty years previously, but when she discovers one of David's bank accounts
Patrice Hoffman
I am a huge fan of Harlan Coben books... usually... This book is not horrible but there were a lot of flaws. There are a few red herrings that are placed in the way which makes the book interesting and worthy of being finished. But... I was annoyed by the use of beauty or pretty to describe every person who was attractive in this book. It seemed like everyone was a perfect human speciman. And we all know the real world is nothing like that. I feel like this is a story that was told before a lot ...more
Apr 01, 2015 LATOYA SAUNDERS rated it really liked it
If you didn't know this was Harlan's first book from the note from the author in the reprint then you'd know from reading it. It's not bad but you can definitely tell he's grown and learned a lot.
Same page turning plot Harlan is famous for, though a little far fetched. It's the characters that are lacking. The dream couple are the most perfect people who have ever walked the earth since Jesus Christ. The villain is unexpected but overly simple. But even with its flaws PLAY DEAD is still better t
Aug 31, 2014 Heidi rated it did not like it
Coben has come a long way from this book (published in 1990). His current books are tight, less wordy, and develop the story line with alacrity. Play Dead read more like a soap opera with way-too-attractive and flat stereotypical main characters.

I don't fault Coben for this book, but I do think his editors needed to help him tighten up this text. I didn't finish this book, but I will continue to read others of his. He is a true entertainer.

(Sorry Harlan Coben!!!!)
Dec 24, 2014 Frank rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite authors but they weren't always as good as they are now. This is his first book and it is pretty bad; awkward dialogue, unbelievable characters, in need of a good editor. I've read worse but don't judge him by this book. I've read a few others and they are top-notch.
He acknowledges all this in the forward so believe him and read something later if he is new to you. Otherwise, read it so you can see how much he's improved since this book!
Oct 10, 2010 Brenda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved it! Couldn't put it down, and read it in under 2 days!
Laurie Hanan
Jun 17, 2017 Laurie Hanan rated it liked it
I’m a huge fan of Harlan Coben and am happy for the opportunity to read this early work. While his (almost 600 page) first novel is not great compared to his later works, it shows signs of early genius. I am certainly glad he didn’t get discouraged but kept at the writing game until he perfected his craft.
Jun 22, 2017 Jane rated it it was ok
I wish I would have listened to the author and not read his first book. However, he is now one of my favorite authors so all is forgiven.
Benjamin Thomas
It’s not usually a good sign when you open the first page of a novel only to find a letter from the author apologizing for what you are about to read. Harlan Coben, of course, has had a stellar best-seller-list kind of career and he wants to make sure that readers don’t judge him based on this book, his very first publication written when he was in his 20’s. I will admit to being a little bit taken aback after reading that note…but only a little. This is Harlan Coben after all.

The novel itself i
Joel Margolese
Jan 15, 2012 Joel Margolese rated it it was ok
Harlan Coben's first book is awful. Except that it's not. Which is a good thing because his writing has improved so much and I'm glad this was good enough to get him a second look. The story is simplistic and more than stretches credulity. It's almost like a fantasy, (like Ragtime by EL Doctrow), but its meant to be real. In his later novels, Coben created more believable characters and situations that feel real enough that they could really happen and he's become a master a plot twists and true ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2015 Reading Chal...: Play Dead by Harlan Coben 3 22 Feb 18, 2015 11:53AM  
  • Checkmate (Patrick Bowers, #7)
  • The Hunted
  • The Wild Zone
  • Fear the Worst
  • Reckless (Ty Hauck, #3)
  • Live to Tell (Live to Tell #1)
  • Stolen (Tavistock Family, #2)
  • 18 Seconds (Sherry Moore, #1)
  • The Dollmaker
  • True Detectives
  • Saving Cascadia
  • Third Degree
  • Hot Mahogany (Stone Barrington, #15)
  • Playing Dead (Prison Break Trilogy, #3)
  • Sentenced to Die (J.P. Beaumont, #1-3)
  • The Moscow Club
With over 60 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last seven consecutive novels, MISSING YOU, SIX YEARS, STAY CLOSE, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.

Coben is the winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first aut
More about Harlan Coben...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Mark’s shots fell through the metallic hoop, “but how many of them have that kind of accuracy?” 0 likes
More quotes…