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Play Dead

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,526 Ratings  ·  938 Reviews
Ex-fashion model and successful business woman Laura Ayars' perfect world is shattered at a time which should have been the happiest of her life. On her honeymoon, her sports superstar husband goes for a swim - and never returns. But what has happened to David - is he really dead?

Whilst struggling to cope with her grief, Laura is plagued by questions and doubts. Was it an
...more
Paperback, reprint, 518 pages
Published June 24th 2010 by Orion Books (first published May 1st 1990)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Suzanne
Feb 08, 2016 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
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
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Phrynne
Apr 29, 2015 Phrynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Seema
Mar 06, 2012 Seema rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Donna
Jul 10, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jim
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
Vivienne

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
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Andrea
Jun 12, 2013 Andrea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Melissa
Jan 23, 2011 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
StoryTellerShannon
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
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Matthew
May 22, 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.
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.
Heidi
Aug 31, 2014 Heidi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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!!!!)
Frank
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!
Julie Mestdagh
Mar 24, 2016 Julie Mestdagh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of Harlan Coben's work and have already bought and read most of his books, which I usually end up devouring in one day and giving a 5 star rating. When it comes to his earlier works though, like his debut novel "Play dead", which was first published 26 years ago (1990), it hasn't always been easy to lay hands on them. I still miss some of his first books in my collection, but am very happy I finally got round to reading his debut "Play dead".

On the first page - Coben anno 2010 apo
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Trish Jackson
Apr 11, 2014 Trish Jackson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Shane Phillips
Apr 24, 2016 Shane Phillips rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Putting aside the disclaimer, the story is well done and kept me guessing. I would say the last half of the book more than makes up for the flaws of the first half.
Gary
Jul 30, 2015 Gary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent novel from one of my favourite writers.
He writes such good original stories that have strong characters and believable plots.
Ayse
Aug 04, 2014 Ayse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bu aralar cin ali okusam çok güzel kitaptı ya, diyecek havada olduğum için dört puan verdim, sanırım. İkinci Harlan, kitabımdı. Orman'a göre temposu düşüktü; ama başka kitaplarla kıyaslarsak temposu düşük sayılır mı: hayır.
Harlan, okumak istiyorsanız Harlan'a göre bu kitabından başlamamalıymışsınız kitabın başında da okuyacağım ilk kitabınızsa başka alın diye bir uyarı var, çünkü yazarın yazdığı ilk kitabı. Bence ilk kitabı olmasına rağmen Orman'dan daha iyiydi(Orman'a sırf o aptal son, yüzünde
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Brenda
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!
Melanie Storie
May 31, 2014 Melanie Storie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audio book of "Play Dead" with my husband on the way home from Disney World. And we laughed so hard together, it lessened the pain of leaving the most magical place on earth. This book is not a comedy. Which made it even more hilarious.

I have read another book by this author and really liked it, so when the audio book began with a note by the author directing readers away from reading this book, I thought it was odd. But then the book began.

I recommend reading this book like I
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Jerry
Jun 04, 2012 Jerry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of two novels Coben has recently re-published from the early 90’s: this one and “Miracle Cure”. While he somewhat disavowed the quality of these early novels in a similar foreword to each, we found “Dead” a somewhat acceptable thriller, with an extremely complicated plot. Like “Cure”, it features a professional basketball player in the story, perhaps the precursor to the Myron Bolitar character in that successful Coben series…

When ex-supermodel Laura and pro hoops star David el
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Jayne Charles
Jul 26, 2011 Jayne Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book comes with a chummy introduction by the author much like the ones you sometimes get in Stephen King novels, warning the reader that this is an early book and not up to the same standards as his most recent stuff. This had the effect of reducing my expectations to near zero, but having finished it I'd have to say this is as good as anything else I've read by him, and in some cases, better. It has an airier feel - more breathing space, fewer wisecracks (though I don't always dislike thos ...more
Joel Margolese
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
Bandit
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
Jill Dunlop
Jan 26, 2011 Jill Dunlop rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Play Dead is Harlan Coben's first published novel. It has been rereleased this year. There is a letter from the author warning readers that if this is your first experience to reading one of his books he suggests that they stop reading, go and get another of his books and then come back to this one. I had to laugh because this book is my first by Mr. Coben and I couldn't read a different one because this was December's book club choice. So, I went into reading this book with an open mind.

I can c
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Tom Tischler
Feb 27, 2013 Tom Tischler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Amy
Nov 01, 2010 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you have never read a Harlan Coben book, please don't let this one be the first. If you are a fan, be prepared for a disappointment. I honestly understand why he decided not to "update" this book (his first novel) - he would have needed to start completely from scratch! Might as well cash in on his name and sell it "as is.' I am a huge fan of Harlan Coben...have met him in person and found him to be not only a great writer but also a personable man and speaker. This book truly shows how he ha ...more
Keith Nixon
So pleased to have finished this as it was frankly awful. I had it in audio book format so it was hard to skip forward which was a major temptation. There was so much wrong with it - a huge amount of internal introspection by each character at the beginning of each scene, lots of repetition of events within the book seen time and again from multiple perspectives, cheesy and cliched prose. This made the book 30 to 50% longer than it needed to be. The premise was pretty unlikely, every character w ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Play Dead by Harlan Coben 3 20 Feb 18, 2015 11:53AM  
  • Checkmate (Patrick Bowers, #7)
  • Fear the Worst
  • Stolen (Tavistock Family, #2)
  • Sliver of Truth (Ridley Jones, #2)
  • Shadow Creek
  • The Final Victim
  • Istri Pilihan (Bride Wanted)
  • Reckless (Ty Hauck, #3)
  • Higher Authority (Alan Gregory, #3)
  • 18 Seconds (Sherry Moore, #1)
  • Mortal Fear (Mississippi #1)
  • Himmel över London
  • The Bodies Left Behind
  • Beyond Suspicion (Jack Swyteck, #2)
  • The Dollmaker
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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
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