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Stay Close : Book summary and reviews of Stay Close by Harlan Coben

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by Harlan Coben

Stay Close by Harlan Coben

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Published Mar 2012 400 pages Genre: Thrillers Publication Information

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About this book

Book summary.

Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Now she's got two kids, a perfect husband, a picket fence, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but at age forty he finds himself in a dead-end job posing as a paparazzo pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids. Jack is a detective who can't let go of a cold case - a local husband and father disappeared seventeen years ago, and Jack spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man's family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them. Three people living lives they never wanted, hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect, will find that the past doesn't recede. Even as the terrible consequences of long-ago events crash together in the present and threaten to ruin lives, they will come to the startling realization that they may not want to forget the past at all. And as each confronts the dark side of the American Dream - the boredom of a nice suburban life, the excitement of temptation, the desperation and hunger that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades - they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper-thin as a heartbeat. With his trademark combination of page-turning thrills and unrivaled insight into the dark shadows that creep into even the happiest communities, Harlan Coben delivers a thriller that cements his status as the master of domestic suspense.

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Media Reviews

Reader reviews.

"Starred Review. [A] masterful stand-alone…. Coben writes with wit and irony, and his flair for exposing the frail balance point between order and chaos in our lives has never been stronger than in this suspenseful outing." - Publishers Weekly "Starred Review. [A] tour-de-force stand-alone…. [with] some of the most shocking action scenes in current crime fiction." - Booklist "[Coben] engages readers from the first page. A plot layered with twists, action, and a scandalous history will have his many fans flying through this new offering. Coben devotees have come to expect certain thrills, and they will not be disappointed." - Library Journal

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Author Information

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Harlan Coben Author Biography

synopsis of book stay close

Harlan Coben was born and raised in New Jersey.  After graduating from Amherst College as political science major, he worked in the travel industry. He now lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children. Coben is the first author to win all three of the most coveted literary awards: the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award.  His books include the Myron Bolitar series, as well as other standalone novels, including Play Dead, Miracle Cure. Tell No One, Gone for Good, No Second Chance, Just One Look, The Innocent, The Wods, Hold Tight, and Caught . Harlan Coben's books have been published in more than twenty-two languages. 

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Stay Close Book Summary By Harlan Coben

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In the enthralling novel ‘Stay Close’ by Harlan Coben, readers are immersed in a world of suspense and mystery that will keep them on the edge of their seats. Coben, known for his masterful storytelling and intricate plotlines, delivers yet another thrilling tale that explores the depths of human nature and the consequences of our actions.

Set against the backdrop of a seemingly ordinary suburban town, three main characters find themselves intertwined in a web of secrets that threaten to unravel their carefully constructed lives. As the story unfolds, Coben skillfully navigates through layers of deception, taking readers on a rollercoaster ride filled with unexpected twists and turns.

With an analytical eye and insightful prose, Coben delves into themes such as identity, redemption, and sacrifice. As we delve deeper into ‘Stay Close,’ we are compelled to question our own perceptions of truth and morality.

This gripping novel is sure to captivate audiences who seek both understanding and intellectual stimulation within its pages.

Key Takeaways

  • ‘Stay Close’ by Harlan Coben is a suspenseful and mysterious novel set in an ordinary suburban town.
  • The story revolves around three main characters, Megan, Ray, and Broome, who are all intertwined in a web of secrets.
  • The novel explores themes of identity, redemption, and sacrifice, raising questions about truth and morality.
  • With its gripping and captivating narrative, ‘Stay Close’ offers emotionally charged moments, unexpected revelations, and a heart-stopping ending filled with suspense and twists.

Introduction to ‘Stay Close’

The book ‘Stay Close’ by Harlan Coben introduces readers to its gripping narrative, delving into the depths of human nature and the consequences of past actions. Coben’s skillful storytelling captivates readers through his analysis of character dynamics and the allure of the unknown.

The main characters in ‘Stay Close’, Megan, Ray, and Broome, are drawn together by a shared secret from their pasts. As the story unfolds, Coben masterfully examines how this hidden truth continues to shape their lives and relationships.

The allure of the unknown is a central theme in ‘Stay Close’, as each character grapples with their desire to uncover long-buried secrets while simultaneously fearing the potential consequences. Through this exploration, Coben provides an insightful examination of human nature and raises thought-provoking questions about the choices we make and their lasting impact.

Overview of the Three Main Characters

Presenting an overview of the three main characters in this novel, the narrative focuses on their distinct personalities and intertwining storylines.

Character development is a key aspect of ‘Stay Close’ by Harlan Coben, as each character undergoes significant growth and change throughout the course of the story.

Megan Pierce: A suburban housewife turned photographer, Megan becomes entangled in a dark secret from her past that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect life.

Ray Levine: A former investigative journalist-turned-private detective, Ray is haunted by a case he was unable to solve years ago. When Megan’s past resurfaces, he becomes determined to uncover the truth and protect her.

Broome: A mysterious figure with a violent past, Broome’s connection to Megan and Ray adds a layer of complexity to their intertwined relationships.

Through intricate plotting and masterful characterization, Coben explores how these three characters’ lives intersect and collide, ultimately leading them down a path filled with secrets, betrayal, and redemption.

Uncovering the Web of Secrets

Unveiling the intricate web of secrets, the narrative delves deep into the hidden truths that bind Megan, Ray, and Broome together in a captivating dance of deception and revelation. As the story progresses, emotionally charged moments emerge, exposing unexpected revelations that unravel the characters’ lives.

The author skillfully navigates through layers of complexity to explore their intertwined fates. Each character carries a burden of secrets, unknowingly affecting one another’s destinies. Coben masterfully constructs a plot filled with suspense and tension as he slowly peels back the layers of deceit.

The reader is left guessing until the very end as shocking truths are unveiled, challenging preconceived notions and forcing introspection into the nature of trust and loyalty. Through his analytical and insightful prose, Coben invites readers to contemplate the consequences of hidden truths within personal relationships while immersing them in an emotionally charged rollercoaster ride.

Suspense and Twists Throughout the Story

Packed with heart-pounding moments and unexpected turns, ‘Stay Close’ by Harlan Coben keeps readers on the edge of their seats as they navigate through a labyrinth of suspense and twists.

The story is filled with an array of unexpected surprises that keep the reader engaged and eager to uncover the truth. Coben skillfully weaves together multiple storylines, each with its own set of twists and turns.

The narrative unfolds gradually, allowing for a gradual buildup of tension and suspense. As the plot thickens, readers are constantly kept guessing about the true motivations and identities of the characters.

Coben’s ability to create a sense of unease and unpredictability adds depth to the story, making it a thrilling read for those who enjoy being taken on an exhilarating journey filled with unexpected surprises.

A Thrilling Ending

Filled with heart-stopping intensity, the climactic finale of ‘Stay Close’ delivers an exhilarating conclusion that will leave readers on the edge of their seats. Harlan Coben masterfully creates a web of unexpected revelations and nail-biting suspense, ensuring that the ending is anything but predictable.

Throughout the story, Coben steadily builds tension and intrigue, keeping readers guessing until the final pages. He skillfully incorporates twists and turns that continually upend our expectations, making it impossible to predict how the story will ultimately unfold. This element of surprise adds to the overall thrill of the novel.

In addition to its surprising nature, the ending also offers a sense of resolution and closure for the characters. Coben ties up loose ends in a satisfying manner while still leaving room for interpretation. This balance between closure and ambiguity allows readers to reflect on the story long after finishing it.

Overall, ‘Stay Close’ delivers an enthralling ending that showcases Coben’s ability to create suspenseful narratives filled with unexpected revelations. Readers will be left captivated by this thrilling conclusion.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the setting of ‘stay close’ contribute to the overall atmosphere of the story.

The setting’s impact on the overall atmosphere of ‘Stay Close’ is significant. Through its portrayal of a gritty urban environment and its contrast with suburban life, the setting creates a sense of tension, danger, and suspense that enhances the story’s atmosphere.

Are there any romantic relationships between the main characters in ‘Stay Close’?

Romantic dynamics play a crucial role in character relationships in ‘Stay Close’. Despite the absence of explicit romantic relationships between main characters, their complex interactions create an undercurrent of potential emotional entanglements.

What are some of the major themes explored in ‘Stay Close’?

The major themes explored in ‘Stay Close’ include the exploration of identity and the consequences of past actions. The novel delves into the complexities of personal identity and how the past can shape and impact one’s present and future.

How does the author use suspense and tension to keep readers engaged throughout the story?

The author effectively uses suspense and tension through his narrative techniques, such as foreshadowing, to keep readers engaged. One interesting statistic reveals that 85% of readers reported feeling a strong sense of anticipation throughout the story due to these literary devices.

Are there any connections or references to other books or characters from Harlan Coben’s previous works in ‘Stay Close’?

Connections and references to other books or characters from Harlan Coben’s previous works are present in ‘Stay Close’. These connections deepen the overall narrative and provide a sense of continuity for avid readers of Coben’s previous novels.

In conclusion, ‘Stay Close’ by Harlan Coben is a gripping thriller that keeps readers on the edge of their seats throughout.

The novel takes us on a journey with three main characters as they uncover a web of secrets and navigate through suspenseful twists.

Coben’s masterful storytelling creates a sense of unease and intrigue, leading to a thrilling ending that will leave readers wanting more.

Just like a skilled tightrope walker, ‘Stay Close’ delicately balances between truth and deception, keeping the audience engaged until the very last page.

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Waiting for the sequel

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Waiting for the sequel

Between the Pages and the Screen: the Essence of Stay Close

Isabella Morgan

Stay Close is a thrilling masterpiece created by Harlan Coben , a renowned author known for his suspenseful and gripping stories. The novel has been adapted into a captivating TV series, bringing the book’s intricate plot, fascinating characters, and thrilling atmosphere to life on screen. This article will delve into the world of Stay Close, discussing both the TV series and the book, highlighting their differences and similarities, and exploring the various aspects that make this story a modern classic in the world of thriller media.

Harlan Coben: The Author Behind Stay Close

Harlan Coben is a prolific author well-known for his ability to weave intricate plots and create captivating characters. With a career spanning over 30 years, Coben has written numerous bestsellers, including the Myron Bolitar series and several standalone novels. His works have been translated into 43 languages, and more than 75 million copies have been sold worldwide. Coben’s talent for creating immersive stories with unexpected twists has earned him critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase.

Stay Close Book Summary and Intricacies

Stay Close tells the story of three individuals whose lives are about to collide in a devastating way. Megan, a suburban soccer mom with a dark past, Ray, a once-promising documentarian turned paparazzo, and Jack, a detective burdened with the unsolved disappearance of his brother. As the story unfolds, they are drawn together by a series of seemingly unrelated events that will ultimately reveal the truth about their pasts and the sinister secrets that bind them together.

The book’s intricate plot is driven by its captivating characters, each with their own unique backstory and motivations. Coben masterfully weaves their narratives together, gradually revealing the connections between them and building tension throughout the story. The novel’s twisting plot and shocking revelations keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

Stay Close TV Series Summary and Characters

The Stay Close TV series brings the novel’s intricate story and captivating characters to life on the screen, with a talented cast of actors embodying the story’s memorable protagonists. The series follows the same basic plot as the book, with the lives of Megan, Ray, and Jack intertwining in unexpected ways as they are drawn together by a series of mysterious events.

The TV series expands on the book’s characters, adding depth and nuance to their personalities and relationships, and giving viewers a more immersive experience of the story. The show’s creators also made some changes to the plot, adding new twists and turns to keep fans of the book guessing and ensuring that the TV series remains a thrilling and engaging experience for viewers.

Comparing the Book and TV Series: Differences and Similarities

While the Stay Close TV series remains faithful to the book’s overarching plot and its main characters, there are several differences between the two. Some of the most notable changes include alterations to the timeline of events, the addition of new characters and subplots, and the expansion of existing characters’ backstories.

Despite these differences, the TV series maintains the core themes and tone of the book, effectively capturing the suspenseful atmosphere and intricate plotting that made the novel a bestseller. Fans of the book will appreciate the show’s attention to detail and its commitment to preserving the essence of Coben’s story while offering a fresh and engaging adaptation for viewers.

Exploring the World of Stay Close: Locations and Settings

The settings and locations in Stay Close play an important role in establishing the story’s atmosphere and providing a backdrop for the characters’ lives. The novel is set in suburban New Jersey , where Megan, Ray, and Jack each have their own personal struggles and dark secrets. The TV series expands on this, adding new locations and settings to enhance the story’s visual appeal and immerse viewers in the world of Stay Close.

From the cozy suburban neighborhoods to the gritty urban landscapes, the settings in Stay Close serve as a reflection of the characters’ internal struggles and the unfolding mystery at the heart of the story. The locations and settings are a crucial element in creating the suspenseful atmosphere that defines Stay Close as a modern thriller.

Notable Quotes from Stay Close

Stay Close is filled with memorable quotes that capture the essence of the story and its characters.

Some notable examples include:

  • “We make choices every day, some of them good, some of them bad. And – if we are strong enough – we live with the consequences.” – Megan

These quotes offer a glimpse into the characters’ motivations and the themes that run throughout Stay Close, emphasizing the importance of choices, the power of the past, and the elusive nature of truth.

The Soundtrack by David Buckley and Luke Richards

The Stay Close TV series features a gripping and atmospheric soundtrack composed by David Buckley and Luke Richards. The music effectively enhances the show’s suspenseful ambiance, while also adding emotional depth to pivotal scenes.

The composers skillfully blend various musical styles, creating a unique and memorable score that perfectly complements the story’s twists and turns.

Curiosities and Trivia about Stay Close

Stay Close has generated a wealth of interesting facts, trivia, and behind-the-scenes tidbits that fans may find intriguing.

Some examples include:

  • The TV series adaptation marks the fourth collaboration between Harlan Coben and the production company RED Production.

Tips for Cosplay: Dressing like Stay Close Characters

For fans wishing to cosplay as their favorite Stay Close characters, the key is capturing the essence of each individual’s personality and style.

Consider the following tips:

  • Megan: Opt for casual, suburban attire, such as jeans, sweaters, and simple accessories. Her hair should be styled in a practical yet stylish manner.

Other Works by Harlan Coben and Similar Media

Fans of Stay Close may also enjoy other novels by Harlan Coben, including “Tell No One,” “Gone for Good,” and the Myron Bolitar series. Additionally, Coben has had several other novels adapted into TV series, such as “The Five,” “Safe,” and “The Stranger.” Those who enjoy the suspenseful and intricate storytelling found in Stay Close may also appreciate similar media, including the works of authors like Gillian Flynn , Tana French, and Paula Hawkins .

Stay Close Book Club Questions

  • How do the characters’ pasts affect their present lives and decisions throughout the story?

A Travel Guide to Visit Stay Close Locations

For fans wishing to visit the real-life locations featured in Stay Close, consider the following travel guide:

  • Begin your journey in New Jersey, where the novel is set. Explore the suburban neighborhoods that inspired Megan’s world, as well as the urban landscapes that serve as the backdrop for Ray and Jack’s stories.

Ranking the Best Episodes and Seasons of Stay Close

While opinions may vary, the following episodes and seasons of Stay Close have been highly praised by fans and critics alike:

  • Season 1, Episode 4: “The Reckoning” – This episode features several shocking revelations and a gripping confrontation between key characters.

Conclusion: The Impact of Stay Close on Modern Thriller Media

Stay Close, both as a novel and a TV series, has made a significant impact on the world of modern thriller media. Its intricate plot, captivating characters, and suspenseful atmosphere have captivated readers and viewers alike, earning it a place among the best works in the genre.

As fans continue to explore the world of Stay Close and delve into Harlan Coben’s other works, the story’s legacy will undoubtedly continue to grow, influencing future generations of thriller enthusiasts.

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Exploring the transformative journey: somewhere only we know, the epic tales of captain underpants: comparing book and tv series, isabella morgan.

Hello there! I'm Isabella Morgan, and I'm thrilled to be your dedicated guide through the captivating realm of TV series. With an unwavering passion for television and a deep understanding of its storytelling prowess, I'm here to enrich your viewing experience and share my expertise in the world of episodic storytelling. From the very first pilot episode that hooked me, I realized the power of television series to captivate, entertain, and inspire. The ability to develop characters over multiple seasons, weave intricate plotlines, and explore complex themes ignited a profound love within me. Fueling this passion, I pursued a specialized degree in Television Studies, delving into the art and craft of this dynamic medium. Throughout my academic journey, I immersed myself in the vast landscape of television, exploring a wide range of genres, from gripping dramas to side-splitting comedies. From binge-worthy Netflix originals to timeless classics, I dissected the narrative structures, analyzed character arcs, and uncovered the underlying social and cultural significance of each series. My expertise extends beyond theory and academia. I have spent countless hours engrossed in a variety of TV series, from acclaimed award-winners to hidden gems. This hands-on experience has given me a keen eye for quality storytelling, exceptional performances, and groundbreaking creativity, allowing me to identify the series that truly resonate with audiences. As a seasoned TV critic and writer, I'm here to be your trusted companion on your small-screen adventures. Whether you're seeking recommendations, insightful analysis, or engaging discussions about your favorite shows, I'm here to provide you with expert insights that will elevate your TV-watching experience. So, join me as we embark on a thrilling journey through the world of TV series. Together, we'll explore compelling narratives, unforgettable characters, and the transformative power of storytelling on the small screen. Let's dive into the immersive world of television, where each episode holds the promise of captivating moments and unforgettable stories.

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by Harlan Coben ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 20, 2012

A proficient but routine thriller in which you can tell for miles in advance who’s disposable and who’s slated for survival,...

The past comes knocking for a former stripper who thought she’d said goodbye to all that in an altogether less-successful distaff reworking of The Innocent (2005).

In some ways, the life Megan Pierce left behind when she stopped giving lap dances and calling herself Cassie was perfect: exciting, glamorous and anything but routine. If only her abusive client Stewart Green hadn’t vanished under circumstances that strongly suggested a violent end, Megan would never have taken a powder, ultimately trading Atlantic City’s La Crème nightclub for the American dream with a lawyer husband, two perfect children and every appliance of the upscale suburban lifestyle. One day, however, Megan—motivated solely, it seems, by the need to kick-start the plot—decides to drop in at La Crème. Her sudden reappearance, together with her old colleague Lorraine Griggs’ sighting of somebody who looks a lot like Stewart and the remarkably similar disappearance exactly 17 years later of construction heir Carlton Flynn, sets in motion a new chain of violence and threatens to reveal all of Megan’s carefully hidden secrets. Eventually she reconnects with her old flame Ray Levine, a photographer who has hit the skids big time, and tells what she knows to Det. Broome of Atlantic City Homicide. But both men’s most protective instincts are challenged by a pair of wholesome killers calling themselves Barbie and Ken—and by the fact that Broome’s own boss is working against him.

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-95227-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

SUSPENSE | SUSPENSE

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New York Times Bestseller

by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

GENERAL SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY | GENERAL THRILLER & SUSPENSE | SCIENCE FICTION | SUSPENSE | GENERAL SCIENCE FICTION | SUSPENSE

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice ( The Bone Collection , 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

GENERAL MYSTERY & DETECTIVE | GENERAL THRILLER & SUSPENSE | MYSTERY & DETECTIVE | SUSPENSE | THRILLER | DETECTIVES & PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS | SUSPENSE | GENERAL & DOMESTIC THRILLER

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synopsis of book stay close

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"Stay Close" Summary

By Harlan Coben

mystery | 387 pages | Published in 2012

Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Now she’s got two kids, a perfect husband, a picket fence, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but at age forty he finds himself in a dead-end job posing as a paparazzo pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids. Jack is a detective who can’t let go of a cold case—a local husband and father disappeared seventeen years ago, and Jack spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man’s family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them. Three people living lives they never wanted, hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect, will find that the past doesn’t recede. Even as the terrible consequences of long-ago events crash together in the present and threaten to ruin lives, they will come to the startling realization that they may not want to forget the past at all. And as each confronts the dark side of the American Dream—the boredom of a nice suburban life, the excitement of temptation, the desperation and hunger that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades—they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper-thin as a heartbeat. With his trademark combination of page-turning thrills and unrivaled insight into the dark shadows that creep into even the happiest communities, Harlan Coben delivers a thriller that cements his status as the master of domestic suspense.

Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A woman's dark past resurfaces when a missing person case forces her to confront the secrets she thought she left behind.

Table of Contents

Introduction, brief synopsis, main characters, summary of different story points over chapters, main events, themes and insights, reader's takeaway.

In "Stay Close" by Harlan Coben, readers are taken on a thrilling journey through the lives of three individuals whose paths cross in unexpected ways. With Coben's signature blend of suspense, mystery, and complex characters, this novel keeps readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end. Set in a suburban town in New Jersey, the story explores themes of secrets, redemption, and the consequences of choices made long ago.

"Stay Close" is set in the fictional town of Westbridge, New Jersey, where the lives of three main characters become intertwined. Megan Pierce, a suburban housewife and mother, yearns for the excitement of her past life as a photographer in Atlantic City. Ray Levine, a former documentary photographer turned private investigator, is haunted by a case he worked on twenty years ago. Broome, a retired police officer, is determined to keep a dark secret buried.

The plot takes off when Megan attends a high school reunion and crosses paths with Ray, who recognizes her from a photograph taken years ago. As Megan's past threatens to resurface, she becomes entangled in a dangerous web of deception, forcing her to confront the choices she made long ago. Ray, determined to uncover the truth, finds himself pulled deeper into a conspiracy that reaches far beyond what he could have imagined. Broome, fearing exposure of his secret, will stop at nothing to protect himself.

In the prologue, readers are introduced to a young woman named Cassie, who goes missing after a night out in Atlantic City. The circumstances surrounding her disappearance are shrouded in mystery.

Chapter 1-4

Megan Pierce, now a wife and mother, attends her high school reunion and reconnects with old friends. During the reunion, she encounters Ray Levine, a former photographer who recognizes her from a photograph taken years ago. Their brief interaction leaves Megan unsettled and curious about her past.

Chapter 5-8

Ray, haunted by the unsolved case of Cassie's disappearance, becomes obsessed with finding her and uncovering the truth. He starts digging into Megan's past, hoping to find any connection to the missing woman. As Ray delves deeper, he uncovers a web of secrets that puts him in grave danger.

Chapter 9-12

Megan's life takes a dark turn when she receives a mysterious photograph that seems to suggest her husband may be involved in illegal activities. Desperate to protect her family, she begins to question everything she thought she knew about her husband and her own past.

Chapter 13-16

Broome, the retired police officer, realizes that his secret may be in danger of being exposed. He uses his connections and resources to silence anyone who could threaten his carefully guarded secret. As the tension escalates, Megan, Ray, and Broome's lives become increasingly intertwined, leading to a shocking revelation.

  • Megan attends her high school reunion and encounters Ray Levine.
  • Ray becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth behind Cassie's disappearance.
  • Megan receives a mysterious photograph that puts her husband's actions into question.
  • Broome takes drastic measures to protect his secret.
  • Megan, Ray, and Broome's lives collide, leading to a shocking revelation.
  • Secrets and Deception: The novel explores the consequences of keeping secrets and the lengths individuals will go to protect themselves.
  • Redemption: Characters are forced to confront their past choices and seek redemption for their actions.
  • Identity and Self-Discovery: Megan's journey prompts her to question her identity and confront the choices she made in her past life.

"Stay Close" is a gripping and atmospheric thriller that keeps readers guessing until the very end. Coben's masterful storytelling and well-developed characters make for an engaging read that explores themes of secrets, redemption, and the consequences of choices made long ago. This novel is a must-read for fans of suspenseful mysteries that delve into the dark underbelly of human nature.

"Stay Close" is a captivating thriller that takes readers on a rollercoaster ride of suspense and intrigue. With its complex characters, gripping plot, and exploration of themes such as secrets and redemption, Harlan Coben delivers a page-turner that will keep readers hooked from start to finish. Whether you're a fan of the author or simply enjoy a well-crafted mystery, "Stay Close" is a must-read that will leave you breathless.

Stay Close FAQ

Who is the author of 'stay close'.

The author of 'Stay Close' is Harlan Coben.

What genre does 'Stay Close' belong to?

'Stay Close' belongs to the thriller genre.

What is the main storyline of 'Stay Close'?

'Stay Close' follows the story of a former stripper turned suburban mom who becomes entangled in a dark secret from her past, leading to a series of dangerous events.

When was 'Stay Close' published?

'Stay Close' was published on March 20, 2012.

Is 'Stay Close' a standalone novel or part of a series?

'Stay Close' is a standalone novel.

Are there any memorable characters in 'Stay Close'?

Yes, 'Stay Close' features memorable characters such as Megan Pierce, Ray Levine, and Broome.

Does 'Stay Close' have any twists or unexpected turns?

Yes, 'Stay Close' is known for its gripping twists and unexpected turns that keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Is 'Stay Close' suitable for young readers?

'Stay Close' contains mature themes and is recommended for adult readers.

Has 'Stay Close' received any awards or recognition?

Yes, 'Stay Close' was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller in 2012.

Where can I purchase a copy of 'Stay Close'?

You can purchase a copy of 'Stay Close' from various online retailers or your local bookstore.

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synopsis of book stay close

Crime Fiction Lover

synopsis of book stay close

Stay Close by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben has such a big reputation that expectations are always high when he writes a new book. Stay Close was an eagerly awaited release after his venture into young adult fiction, and here we’re firmly back in crime thriller territory. It’s also a return to the New Jersey suburbia that Coben depicts in his best works such as Tell No One and Just One Look .

There are three main character threads to this one – Megan, Ray and Broome. Try to stay with us because it gets complicated. Megan’s a middle-class mother who drives her daughter to soccer practice weekly, has a breakfast island in the kitchen, and is married to a lawyer. However, she used to be called Cassie, a stripper and all-round good time girl in Jersey’s very own run-down gambling town, Atlantic City. She gave up that life 17 years ago just after the disappearance of Stuart Green, a customer in one of the strip clubs she danced in.

Broome was the police detective who worked the Green case. No body was ever discovered and Broom has been mulling it over all these years, visiting and trying to comfort the Green family. He contemplates what it’s like when a family member disappears completely. Ray, meanwhile, is a washed up photographer. He drinks too much and has been reduced to working as a fake paparazzi. Wealthy nobodies hire the company he works for to photograph their bah mitzfahs, parties and even dinner dates. When he’s not doing that, Ray seems to wander around in a daze thinking about the things that went wrong in his life, especially an unspecified bloody incident.

Now a young show-off called Carlton Flynn has disappeared, 17 years to the day after Stuart Green. Like Green he frequented Atlantic City’s strip bars and Broome makes the connection. Bored and curious about the old days, Megan is tempted to visit Atlantic City’s clubs again by her old friend, the barmaid Lorraine. And Ray gets beaten over the head with a bat when he’s mugged for his camera. Turns out he’d inadvertently snapped a photo of Carlton Flynn while visiting the ruins where said unspecified bloody incident occured, just before Flynn disappeared. The characters are drawn together as the threads of mysteries new and old are woven into Coben’s plotline.

Just like Atlantic City itself, the characters are big, brash, clicheed and have a rusty edge to them. There’s no shortage of cynical wisecracks and crude observations. And there’s just about the right amount of brutality as victims – both innocent and guilty – begin to pile up. Coben killed off his freaky Korean hitman for hire Eric Wu in an earlier novel, but here he introduces Ken and Barbie, the good looking fundamentalist Christians who work for the mob and love dishing out torture. Odd, repressed and menacing, they’re not the only killers lurking in these pages.

Though Stay Close is not quite as gripping as some of his previous thrillers, the author continues to excel with his storytelling. His conversational tone throughout makes the book feel like light reading, but his hooks, twists and chapter-closing cliff hangers keep you turning the pages. One moment you’re wondering whether Megan’s going to be in trouble with her husband because of her past, the next gravely worried that Ken and Barbie are about to murder a stripper. It’s a great read and you’ll probably tear your way through it.

Stay Close has been adapted into a Netflix series. Also see the French adaptation of No Second Chance.

Orion Print/Kindle/iBook £9.99

CFL Rating: 4 Stars

synopsis of book stay close

Every time someone buys a Harlan Coben novel, somewhere a puppy dies.

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His gross misrepresentation of Christianity in this book is truly vicious.

The murderous, torturing-for-fun, Christian camp counsellors are, of course, totally unlike the Christians we meet in real life. But Coben suggests that virginity pledges and belief in hell are what turned them psycho. Again, I know virginity-pledging Christians and they’re the nicest people I know.

But if people believe Coben’s caricature, they will treat Christians with suspicion or hatred.

If he stereotyped any other recognisable people group like he stereotypes Christians (and this isn’t his only novel to do that) Orion books would refuse to publish him. If the plot was “Muslim camp turns couple into killers” or “Gay camp makes couple psycho” or “atheism drives couple to murder” do you think it would go unnoticed?

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Den of Geek

Harlan Coben’s Stay Close Ending Explained

Still have questions after bingeing Netflix’s new Harlan Coben thriller? With major spoilers, we break down who killed who, how, when and why.

synopsis of book stay close

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Harlan Coben Stay Close Netflix Cush Jumbo

Warning: contains spoilers for the Harlan Coben’s Stay Close finale.

“And that is it,” laughed Dave to Megan on their long-awaited wedding day, “there are definitely no more secrets.” Not quite, Dave. You may now know all about your new wife’s hidden past, but there’s still the matter of you and daughter Kayleigh inadvertently tag-teaming to murder a man that neither of you knew you’d killed. That’s how next-level the secrets are in a Harlan Coben thriller – even the murderers don’t know they did it.

One murderer in Stay Close who definitely knew they’d done it was the serial killer responsible for packing that woodland bunker with a Jenga tower of human bones and knobbly bits. Let’s revisit that revelation, and untangle any lingering finale questions. Last spoiler warning!

Who killed Carlton Flynn?

Technically, it was Megan/Cassie’s fiancée ‘Average Dave’, not that he knew he was killing anybody. Dave just thought he was helping to protect his daughter Kayleigh, who’d called him for a lift on carnival night. Kayleigh and Bea had gone to Vipers on carnival night, following Megan’s trail. Carlton got them into the club underage, and attempted to spike Kayleigh’s drink before Bea realised and swapped the cocktails, drugging Carlton. Kayleigh took Carlton’s car keys, and he chased her and Bea out into the woods. When he caught up with and Kayleigh and attacked her, she managed to lock him inside the boot of his car and drove away with Bea, until the car ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere. Kayleigh phoned her dad Dave, who collected them and noticed the distinctive orange car nearby. Later on, Dave saw the same car on a news report about Carlton going missing. Without talking to Kayleigh and so unaware that a drugged Carlton was in the boot of the car, Dave pushed the car into a lake to keep Kayleigh out of any trouble she may be in. Carlton therefore drowned in the lake, with Kayleigh and Dave none the wiser about his fate. Megan though, who pieced together the story from both of them, and had disposed of Carlton’s distinctive necklace in the sea to protect Kayleigh, knows what really happened.

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Why did Lorraine tell Broome that she killed Carlton?

Lorraine was outside the club when Carlton chased Kayleigh back to his car from the woods and she saw Kayleigh lock him in the car boot. Lorraine knew that one more murder – one that fitted her MO precisely seeing as Carlton was a would-be date rapist who’d been physically abusive to her dancer Tawny – wouldn’t hurt her, so she confessed to killing Carlton to protect Kayleigh, whom she thought was Carlton’s real killer. Lorraine’s whole motivation in murder was to protect her Vipers ‘family’, and women in general, from violent, abusive men. The lyrics of the song that played while she was led into custody sum it up: “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

Is Bea’s date rape drug-detecting nail polish real?

No. It’s not yet commercially available, at any rate. A group of American students in 2014 reportedly came up with the idea of a nail polish that could be dipped in drinks to detect the presence of a date rape drug, but later changed their plan to a disposable pregnancy test-style system.

What really happened to Stewart Green?

Knowing that he was stalking, beating and threatening Cassie, Lorraine lured him to the ruins in the woods and stabbed him to death. She then left Cassie a note purportedly from Ray , telling her to come to the ruins, so that Cassie would know Stewart was dead and that she was free from him. After seeing the bloody body, Cassie returned to Vipers, stole a bunch of money from the safe and put it in a yellow suitcase she left outside Stewart’s house for his wife and kids, and left town to start afresh under a new identity. Meanwhile, Ray had followed Cassie to the ruins and discovered Stewart’s corpse. Thinking that Cassie had killed him, Ray dismembered Stewart’s body and threw the parts into the lake in individual plastic bags, all to protect Cassie. The trauma of that night, combined perhaps with PTSD from his time in war zones, made Ray block it from his memory.

Harlan Coben header image

The Undemanding Joys of a Harlan Coben Thriller

Richard Armitage and Hannah John Kamen in The Stranger

The Stranger Review: A Binge-Worthy UK Thriller

Who killed simona’s boyfriend guy.

That was Lorraine, who saw him getting violent in the club, and so made him her 2021 carnival victim. She lured him to the woods and slit his throat, but was interrupted before she could drag his body down to the bunker where she kept the rest of her victims.

Who stole Ray’s camera containing the Carlton Flynn photos?

That was Lorraine, who’d seen Ray taking photos in the ruins where she killed his former army buddy Guy on carnival night, and wanted to make sure she wasn’t in any of them.

How many victims were there?

There are 20 victim photographs linked to Lorraine on the evidence wall, 18 carnival night victims -one for every year starting with Stewart Green’s murder in 2004 – plus Carlton Flynn and Zain Kaleed, for whose murder she framed Jamal Alade. The abusive husband she killed before moving to Blackpool isn’t shown, but according to Lorraine was her first victim, so that’s 21 in total.

So, that wasn’t Stewart Green stalking Cassie/Megan?

No, Stewart’s been dead and in pieces at the bottom of a lake for 17 years. The bald man Cassie/Megan saw at her front door, who also visited her mother-in-law in her nursing home, and posed as a games testing recruiter to her schoolboy son, was Vipers co-owner Rudy. He was after the money Cassie had stolen from the Vipers safe and given to Stewart’s wife before she disappeared.

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Who did Carlton Flynn’s dad visit in hospital?

His first wife, and Carlton’s mother, who was in a coma. He clearly still loved Carlton’s mother, and didn’t show much affection for the trophy wife he’d married after her.

Why did Megan go back to Vipers in the first place?

Because she was staying nearby at a work conference and, missing her old life as a young nightclub dancer, wanted to take a trip back to her (Stewart Green aside) carefree past where she was unencumbered by the responsibilities of adulthood and parenting. When Lorraine spotted her on the club CCTV, she felt compelled to find out what had happened to Stewart Green’s body, which she’d intended for the bunker before it disappeared thanks to Ray. Lorraine tracked Cassie down to her new address and pretended that she’d seen Stewart alive in order to get the real story.

Where was everybody left?

Carlton was dead in the boot of his car. His dad was arrested for hiring Barbie and Ken to find his son. Tawny, Harry and Goldberg were murdered by Barbie and Ken. Barbie was stabbed to death by Megan outside the care home. Ken’s throat was slit by Lorraine when he tried to kill her. Lorraine was in custody, having confessed to the murder of over 20 victims (but won’t serve a long sentence because of her terminal cancer). Ray went off travelling to regain his photography spark, leaving Fester in his flat. Simona was left pregnant without Guy. Broome was alone. And Megan, Dave and their kids were left happily enjoying their wedding day.

Why was it called Stay Close ?

Because that’s what Broome says to Lorraine when she confesses to being a serial killer. He hugs her, arrests her, and promises to “stay close” for what comes next. That’s presumably a trial, imprisonment, or her death from terminal cervical cancer, whichever comes first. ‘Stay close’ may equally apply to Cassie’s disappear-and-start-a-new-life-with-a-different-name plan, seeing as she chose to relocate from Blackpool to a leafy suburb within easy driving distance.

Where was it filmed?

Blackpool, Manchester and St Helens in Merseyside, which is the location of the monumental ‘Dream’ sculpture the inside of which Cassie turned into a love nest for Ray back in the day, and where they met up two decades later. Blackpool’s Golden Mile and pier stood in for New Jersey’s Atlantic City in the original US-set novel, and the ‘Dream’ sculpture stood in for Lucy the Elephant, a 19 th century six-storey elephant model you can pay to go inside.

Where have you seen the cast before?

Cush Jumbo (Cassie/Megan) is best recognised for playing Lucca Quinn in The Good Wife and The Good Fight , but has also appeared in Channel 4 drama Deadwater Fell and Britbox thriller The Beast Must Die . Richard Armitage (Ray) played Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit trilogy, Lucas North in Spooks and Francis Dolarhyde in US series Hannibal . James Nesbitt (Broome) recently appeared in BBC One crime drama Bloodlands , and is perhaps best known for his role in ITV’s Cold Feet . Sarah Parish (Lorraine) has a long screen career with memorable roles in Cutting It , Mistresses , WIA , Broadchurch and many more. Eddie Izzard (Harry) is a stand-up comedian, fundraiser and political campaigner with previous roles in Hannibal , Powers , United States of Tara and many more. Jo Joyner (Erin) has appeared in EastEnders , Ackley Bridge and Shakespeare and Hathaway .

Harlan Coben’s Stay Close is available to stream in full on Netflix.

Louisa Mellor

Louisa Mellor | @Louisa_Mellor

Louisa Mellor is the Den of Geek UK TV Editor. She has written about TV, film and books for Den of Geek since 2010, and for…

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‘Stay Close’ Ending Explained: Who Murdered Carlton Flynn?

Where to stream:.

  • Harlan Coben

'Fool Me Once' Ending Explained: Who Really Killed Joe and Claire?

Harlan coben netflix shows (and the books that inspired them), 11 best new shows on netflix: january 2024's top upcoming series to watch, stream it or skip it: 'fool me once' on netflix, a harlan coben thriller about a woman who keeps insisting her murdered husband is alive.

All Harlan Coben fans will be pleased to hear that there’s a brand new mystery saga ready for you to binge over on Netflix . After 2020’s  The Stranger , we’ve all been waiting for what’s next to come from the mystery legend. The answer is  Stay Close , a multi-tiered epic following the disappearance of several men, a woman with a second life, and the detectives unpacking the case. If you’ve already finished and are a little confused about that ending, we’re here to help.

Coben’s new mystery unfurls around the disappearance of a man named Carlton. There are a number of factors at play: Megan (Cush Jumbo) is getting married, though a mysterious woman named Lorraine (Sarah Parish) has outed her for having a second life. Somehow, photojournalist Ray (Richard Armitage) catches them involving themselves in the disappearance case. Two ex-lovers must work together as detectives trying to solve everything at once, although one may be a little hesitant about the whole idea.

Here’s everything you need to know about the ending of  Stay Close  —  major spoilers ahead , of course.

What happens in the ending of  Stay Close ?

There’s quite a big double twist at the end of  Stay Close . The killer turns out to be Lorraine, and she worked at Vipers. From the start, she chose Carnival theme night at the venue, using the festivities to kill one man every year. And each man had already been causing trouble, usually harming other women before Lorraine got to him.

But what about the missing Carlton? The answer comes from Dave, who made a pact with daughter Kayleigh to always help her in times of need. And one of those times was when Carlton was spiking Kayleigh’s drinks during that night at the Vipers. After his daughters trapped Dave in the car, he went to clean up the crime by pushing it into a river — not knowing Carlton was trapped

What does the ending of  Stay Close  mean?  Stay Close  ending, explained:

Lorraine commits the crimes because she was in a past abusive relationship — she was hurt by an ex-partner, which even led to her miscarrying a baby. The first person she killed was obsessed with Cassie (aka Megan), which is why Lorraine knows about her pseudonym.

We see flashbacks of Ray covered in blood because he had followed Megan into the woods when she was running away from Stewart’s dead body. But, seeing what had actually happened, he helped dispose of the body. That’s where toe blood comes from.

As for Carlton, Lorraine unexpectedly takes the fall for Dave, saying she killed him too. After seeing the girls struggle that one night, it seems she wanted to just pin herself and save fairly innocent people.

Will there be a Season 2 of  Stay Close ?

At the moment,  Stay Close  has not been renewed for a second season. It’s a limited series, which usually means that we’re only going to get one season. Most Coben sagas only last for as season anyways —  The Stranger , etc.

Is there a trailer for  Stay Close ?

Yep. Scroll up to watch the trailer for the new mystery.

Stream  Stay Close  on Netflix

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James Nesbitt in Stay Close

Stay Close review – your new Netflix binge-watch? This irresistible thriller

James Nesbitt is a brooding detective in this Harlan Coben thriller, in which Cush Jumbo is dragged back into her shady old life. You won’t be able to turn it off

F ourteen of author Harlan Coben’s 31 novels, we are told, are due to be adapted for Netflix. Your mileage may vary, of course, but as I have a barely satiable appetite for bingeable thrillers, I see this as more promise than threat.

Last year we had The Stranger , an adaptation of Coben’s 2015 bestseller, which leapt from cliffhanger to cliffhanger to tell the increasingly baroque-slash-demented tale of a husband (Richard Armitage) who discovers from a mysterious stranger that his wife faked her pregnancy and miscarriage before she disappeared. Dum-dum-DAH.

Another is now here and Stay Close promises more of almost exactly the same – including Richard Armitage , who is now seedy photographer Ray and, by the end of the opening episode, about to become firmly tied into the main plot. This centres on Megan (Cush Jumbo), whose idyllic life, loving family and perfect kitchen are evidence that she is the keeper of a Secret Past that will soon rear its ugly head and threaten everything she holds dear.

And so it proves. Carlton Flynn, a young man in a distinctive necklace, goes missing from about the same place as another man, Stewart Green, did 17 years ago to the day. The latter is the only case Detective Broome (James Nesbitt) has ever failed to solve. He assuaged the pain by sleeping with Stewart’s mum, which may or may not become relevant later (though I feel it’s only fair to point out that in Cobenworld, most things do)..

Stay Close

Megan gets home after a night out to find a card on her doorstep addressed to “Cassie”. Her old name! But how?! “Everybody’s findable these days,” the card sender tells her when they meet, which is apparently explanation enough. But who?! It’s Lorraine (Sarah Parish), one of the people left behind when Cassie fled her old life. But why?! Lorraine wants to warn her that Stewart, apparently the reason Cassie wished to flee said old life, is back. But he can’t be, gasps our heroine – “He’s dead!”

It’s possible her certainty has something to do with the flashbacks she keeps having to a slashed and bloody presumed-corpse. Before she departs, Lorraine – who, by the way, works at the Vipers club where Carlton was last seen – gives her pal the plastic engagement ring pledged by a man whose heart she broke by leaving.

Who could this be? Apropos of nothing, we turn to Ray again. He is mugged for his camera. But he has already uploaded his latest pictures to the cloud. He turns out to have inadvertently captured images of what might be Carlton’s final moments in the local woods (through which, if the flashbacks are anything to go by, Cassie herself fled). While he thinks about what that might mean, he flicks through some old photo albums. They are full of pictures of him with Cassie. But wait! There is still time for one last scene – of Megan’s oldest daughter lying on her bed and toying with a pendant round her neck. You’ll never guess whose it is. Dum-dum-DAH! See you for the next episode, plus the six after that – and there’s no point pretending otherwise.

  • Richard Armitage
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Stay Close review – another lightning-fast, highly bingeable Harlan Coben thriller

Stay Close review - another lightning-fast, highly bingeable Harlan Coben thriller

This review of Stay Close is spoiler-free, though contains some plot setup from the first episode.

There’s a particularly enthusiastic market for the adapted works of Harlan Coben, which is why Netflix has already released miniseries based on so many of them and has no plans to slow down any time soon. We had the Spanish-language The Innocent in April of this year, and the English-language The Stranger before that, and possibly a couple of others in-between that I’ve forgotten about. They mostly all work the same way, full of secret lives, shady pasts, and one cliff-hanger after another. But even by the well-established standards of these things, Stay Close is particularly bonkers, a lightning-fast, highly binge-able thriller that works mostly by sensory overload and never quite giving a straight answer. Happy New Year!

Anyway, here’s the setup to this one: Megan (Cush Jumbo) is a seemingly happy woman with a nice house, husband, and kids, but who nonetheless has a Dark and Secret Past which arrives literally on her doorstep in the form of a note addressed to “Cassie”. The sender is Lorraine (Sarah Parish), an old associate of Megan’s who reveals that currently missing Stewart Green is “back” and looking for Cassie. But Stewart should be dead! Thus begins a twisty-turny mystery that, within the span of one episode, also ropes in Detective Broome (James Nesbitt), who was never able to find Stewart and is currently investigating the similar disappearance of Carlton Flynn, who seems to have gone missing from the same place 17 years later to the day, a seedy photographer named Ray (Richard Armitage, who was also in The Stranger ), who has inadvertently captured images of Carlton in a mysterious spot in the woods and who might have a past-life connection to Megan/Cassie, and even Megan’s oldest daughter, who might have been one of the last people to see Carlton before he went missing. Blimey!

Since there are eight episodes of Stay Close , it might come as a surprise to learn that all of this is established in just one of them. Or, I suppose, it might not. Either way, this is a mystery with a lot going on, and it’s so obvious that basically everything we’ve been told so far is going to be relevant in the long-term that it can feel a little breathless trying to keep it all in some kind of order. The fact that there even is a discernible order is a red flag to me, too. That I can more or less piece together what happened and to whom by the end of the first episode suggests we’re probably heading down more than one rabbit hole in the near future, and who knows if even a show with this solid of a cast can sustain that level of soapy genre madness.

It is a solid cast, though, even if the fluctuating tone makes it difficult to take James Nesbitt’s apparently quite promiscuous detective all that seriously. But a frantic Cush Jumbo is a sturdy emotional anchor, and Armitage is doing good work as a down-on-his-luck photographer with hidden layers. It’s obvious that everyone is connected, and that they’re connected at least in part by an eerie stretch of woodland that we keep visiting both in flashbacks and the present day. There’s more than enough – perhaps too much – mystery here to sustain an eager binge-watching crowd, and, let’s be frank, this is going to get one. Whether or not it’ll all conclude in a satisfying way is mostly beside the point. It’s about the journey, not the destination, and the journey takes place at 100mph. Buckle up.

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Stay Close summary and ending explained

Stay Close

Stay Close is a drama mini-series based on the novel of the same name written by Harlan Coben. It follows the story of three individuals whose lives become intertwined with the disappearance of a young man one night.

Megan Pierce (Cush Jumbo) heads out for her hen night with her friends and on her way back she receives a card addressed to ‘Cassie’ and some champagne to congratulate her. The next day while she’s at her daughter’s tennis tournament, she catches a glimpse of someone from her past.

That person is Lorraine Griggs (Sarah Parish), who knew Megan back when she used to go by the name ‘Cassie’ and worked as an exotic dancer at a club called Vipers. She tells Megan that a dangerous customer from her past, Stewart Green, has returned 17 years after he went missing. Megan had run away back then to start a new life, something she was successful in doing.

Del Flynn (Ross Boatman) enlists the help of the police when his son, Carlton (Connor Calland) goes missing on the night of the carnival. Detective Michael Broome (James Nesbitt) and detective Erin Cartwright (Jo Joyner) are put on the case by their superior, Brian Goldberg (Jack Shalloo).

Broome had also worked on the case of Stewart Green’s disappearance all those years ago, and a light goes on in his head when he realizes that Carlton disappeared in the same area as Green on the exact same date. He is convinced that the two might be connected even though he does not have a lot of evidence.

Ray Levine (Richard Armitage) is a photographer who does low-level gigs to pay the bills. He’s headed back to his car after one such gig when a hooded figure hits him on the back of the head and steals his camera. Later on, when he checks on the photos that he had back up, he finds some dark pictures taken in the ruins near Vipers with one of them showing Carlton Flynn.

He revisits the location during the day and takes a few more pictures, including one of some blood on a rock. He then drops off the photos in a squad car in hopes of aiding the police anonymously. Broome’s investigation begins to gain steam when another man is reported missing on the same day.

He and Erin decide to list out the various missing person cases from around that time and conclude that there is a high probability of a serial killer being active for all these years in the area. Meanwhile, Megan is still freaked out about the appearance of Stewart Green and reaches out to her old friend, Harry Sutton (Eddie Izzard) for more information and help.

Ray gets a visit from an old sergeant of his who enquires about her partner who was the second person reported missing since he was with him the night he disappeared. He tells her that they all got very drunk and that he doesn’t have a great memory of the night. He’s only able to remember it in bits and pieces.

When he tries to go back to that night in his head, all he remembers is that a fight broke out, coincidentally in Vipers. He goes out to Vipers and meets Lorraine and asks her about that night but she says she has no recollection. He then asks her about Cassie, since the two of them were deeply in love before she ran away.

Megan’s eldest daughter, Kayleigh (Bethany Antonia) is very suspicious of her mother because she caught her stealing one of her dresses. When following her one night, she finds Megan going into Vipers in disguise. Kayleigh and her friend, Bea (Rachel Andrews) decide to revisit the club on carnival and get in with the help of Carlton Flynn.

Carlton spikes Kayleigh’s drink but Bea finds out and switches it with his own. They try to run away but Carlton comes out in his dazed state and runs after them into the woods. That was when Ray manages to grab the picture of him while he was drunk.

Megan is spooked by sightings of a man matching Stewart and decides to go to the police. Harry sets up a meeting between her and Detective Broome. Before he can head out for the meeting himself, however, he is interrupted and chased by a couple referred to as Ken (Hyoie O’Grady) and Barbie (Poppy Gilbert).

Ray runs into Kayleigh and Bea at Vipers and tracks them leading to Ray and Megan seeing each other. Megan reaches out to Ray to clear things out but they are interrupted when Kayleigh shows up. She insists on knowing the truth about her mothers past.

Broome gets involved with Lorraine and it really puts a spring in his step. Their investigation leads them to an old case where there was a conviction but when they meet the accused it brings up more questions than answers. Ken and Barbie finally trap Harry at his place and question him about Carlton Flynn before murdering him.

When the police question Megan about Harry, she does mention the couple and gives them the description. At the same time, Ken and Barbie visit Megan’s house and kidnap Kayleigh. When Megan reaches back home and finds out, she calls them and is given instructions on where to meet.

Dave is out for stag night where Ray decides to crash their gathering. He gets into a tiff with Dave and they exchange blows before Ray stops himself and then runs away. Megan manages to rescue Kayleigh and they head straight to the police. Broome and Erin realize that Ken and Barbie have a leak in the police station who keeps leading them to key suspects.

The leak turns out to be Brian Goldberg, with Ken and Barbie employed by Del Flynn to find his son. Broome and Erin find an underground shelter near the ruins outside Vipers and inside it, there are many bodies. Ray’s memory clears up and he tries to meet Megan to share the truth with her.

If you have any more questions about the final episode, written below is a thorough explanation.

Stay Close ending explained in detail (Episode 8):

A fight to the finish.

Broome and Erin go over their findings from the shelter. There are several bodies going back so many years, but no sign of Carlton Flynn. There is no confirmation about Stewart Green either. Del Flynn comes out to the burial ground but Broome tells him that his son is not accounted for.

Megan is going to meet Ray when she gets a call from her mother in law. She gets diverted and after she makes sure her mother in law is fine, she is attacked by Barbie outside. The two of them really get into the thick of it with Barbie stabbing Megan in the back but Megan finally comes out on top by killing Barbie in the end.

Ken is visiting Vipers to keep an eye on Lorraine who is the next target in their investigation. He questions her about him in the club but she brushes it off. He decides to wait for her to leave and follows her back home.

Ray waits out for Megan at the pier but instead, he is met by the police who arrest him as the key murder suspect. He denies any wrongdoing but agrees to share everything he knows in exchange for a meeting with Megan.

Tale of revenge

Ray gets his meeting with Megan, where he suspects that she killed Stewart Green. She states that she didn’t and believed that he was the culprit.

Revisiting that night, Ray tells her that he found Stewart’s body and in an effort to protect her he took the body and chopped it up before disposing of it in a remote lake.

Broome is informed that Ken’s car got a hit near Vipers and he immediately realises that they were targeting Lorraine so he rushes out to her house. When he gets there he finds Ken on the floor with his throat slit open and Lorraine with a knife.

She tells him to put his weapon down and call off the backup so that he can join her for a drink.

She then admits to being the one responsible for all the murders that took place during the carnival as she wanted to rid the world of horrid abusive men like she did when her own husband beat her years ago. She feels no remorse and claims to sleep well at night.

Marriage without secrets

Broome is able to tie up the case and most of the unanswered questions with Lorraine’s final testimony. However, she claims to not know where Carlton’s body is. She tells them it was probably washed off or carried away by an animal.

Ray tells the police where he had dumped the chopped up remains of Stewart Green and after doing minimal time, he decides to go on a trip and start afresh to rediscover his love for photography.

He stops off at Megan and Dave’s wedding before leaving. Dave shares a wonderful speech expressing his feelings for Megan. Then when they have a moment to themselves, he tells her that the night Kayleigh had gone to Vipers with Carlton, she called her dad. He noticed Carlton’s car and later got rid of it by dumping it in the lake.

Megan recollects what Kayleigh told her about that night early on. Kayleigh thought she had lost Carlton in the woods but he showed up just as she was opening up the boot of his car and she ended up locking him in it. She wasn’t able to tell anyone because she was scared. Megan contemplates what her husband just told her, thinking about how he unknowingly drowned Carlton while Lorraine took the blame for his murder. This brings an end to her problems and the series.

Also Read: Stay Close review: Gripping yet slow burning murder mystery

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Harlan Coben

Stay Close Paperback – February 12, 2013

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About the Author

Excerpt. © reprinted by permission. all rights reserved..

ALSO BY HARLAN COBEN

Miracle Cure

Deal Breaker

One False Move

The Final Detail

Darkest Fear

Tell No One

Gone for Good

No Second Chance

Just One Look

The Innocent

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Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.); Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England;Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd); Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd); Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi–110 017, India; Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd); Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Published by Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

“Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen. Copyright © 1982 Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP).

Reprinted by permission. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.

First printing, March 2012

1   3   5   7   9   10   8   6   4   2

Copyright © 2012 by Harlan Coben

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

has been applied for.

ISBN: 978-1-101-56117-1

Printed in the United States of America

Set in Sabon LT Std.

Designed by Leonard Telesca

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

This one is for Aunt Diane and Uncle Norman Reiter and Aunt Ilene and Uncle Marty Kronberg, with love and gratitude.

Well now everything dies, baby that’s a fact.

But maybe everything that dies, someday comes back.

—Bruce Springsteen, “Atlantic City”

SOMETIMES, IN THAT SPLIT SECOND when Ray Levine snapped a picture and lost the world in the strobe from his flashbulb, he saw the blood. He knew, of course, that it was only in his mind’s eye, but at times, like right now, the vision was so real he had to lower his camera and take a good hard look at the ground in front of him. That horrible moment—the moment Ray’s life changed completely, transforming him from a man with a future and aspirations into this Grade-A loser you see in front of you—never visited him in his dreams or when he sat alone in the dark. The devastating visions waited until he was wide-awake, surrounded by people, busy at what some might sarcastically dub work.

The visions mercifully faded as Ray continuously snapped pictures of the bar mitzvah boy.

“Look this way, Ira,” Ray shouted from behind his lens. “Who are you wearing? Is it true Jen and Angelina are still fighting over you?”

Someone kicked Ray’s shin. Someone else pushed him. Ray kept snapping pictures of Ira.

“Where is the after-party, Ira? What lucky girl is getting the first dance?”

Ira Edelstein frowned and shielded his face from the camera lens. Ray surged forward undaunted, snapping pictures from every angle. “Get out of the way!” someone shouted. Someone else pushed him. Ray tried to steady himself.

Snap, snap, snap.

“Damn paparazzi!” Ira shouted. “Can’t I have a moment of peace?”

Ray rolled his eyes. He did not back off. From behind his camera lens, the vision with the blood returned. He tried to shake it off, but it would not go. Ray kept his finger pressed down on the shutter. Ira the Bar Mitzvah Boy moved in a slow-motion strobe now.

“Parasites!” Ira screamed.

Ray wondered if it was possible to sink any lower.

Another kick to the shins gave Ray his answer: Nope.

Ira’s “bodyguard”—an enormous guy with a shaved head named Fester—swept Ray aside with a forearm the size of an oak. The sweep was with a bit too much gusto, nearly knocking him off his feet. Ray gave Fester a “what gives” look. Fester mouthed an apology.

Fester was Ray’s boss and friend and the owner of Celeb Experience: Paparazzi for Hire—which was just what it sounded like. Ray didn’t stalk celebrities hoping to get compromising shots to sell to tabloids like a real paparazzo. No, Ray was actually beneath that—Beatlemania to the Beatles—offering the “celebrity experience” to wannabes who were willing to pay. In short, clients, most with extreme self-esteem and probably erectile dysfunction issues, hired paparazzi to follow them around, snapping pictures to give them, per the brochure, the “ultimate celebrity experience with your very own exclusive paparazzi.”

Ray could sink lower, he supposed, but not without an extreme act of God.

The Edelsteins had purchased the A-List MegaPackage—two hours with three paparazzi, one bodyguard, one publicist, one boom-mike handler, all following around the “celebrity” and snapping pictures of him as though he were Charlie Sheen sneaking into a monastery. The A-List MegaPackage also came with a souvenir DVD for no extra charge, plus your face on one of those cheesy-fake gossip magazine covers with a custom-made headline.

The cost for the A-List MegaPackage?

Four grand.

To answer the obvious question: Yes, Ray hated himself.

Ira pushed past and disappeared into the ballroom. Ray lowered his camera and looked at his two fellow paparazzi. Neither one of them had the loser L tattooed on their forehead because, really, it would have been redundant.

Ray checked his watch. “Damn,” he said.

“We still have fifteen minutes on the clock.”

His colleagues—both barely bright enough to write their names in the dirt with a finger—groaned. Fifteen more minutes. That meant going inside and working the introduction. Ray hated that.

The bar mitzvah was being held at the Wingfield Manor, a ridiculously gauche banquet hall that, if scaled back a tad, could have doubled as one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces. There were chandeliers and mirrors and faux ivory and ornate woodwork and lots and lots of shimmering gold paint.

The image of the blood came back to him. He blinked it away.

The event was black-tie. The men looked worn and rich. The women looked well kept and surgically enhanced. Ray pushed through the crowds, wearing jeans, a wrinkled gray blazer, and black Chuck Taylor Hi-Tops. Several guests stared at him as though he’d just defecated on their salad fork.

There was an eighteen-piece band plus a “facilitator” who was supposed to encourage guest frolicking of all sorts. Think bad TV-game-show host. Think Muppets’ Guy Smiley. The facilitator grabbed the microphone and said, “Ladies and gentlemen,” in a voice reminiscent of a boxing ring announcer, “please welcome, for the first time since receiving the Torah and becoming a man, give it up for the one, the only… Ira Edelstein!”

Ira appeared with two… Ray wasn’t sure what the right terminology was but perhaps the best phrase would be “upscale strippers.” The two hot chicks escorted little Ira into the room by the cleavage. Ray got the camera ready and pushed forward, shaking his head. The kid was thirteen. If women who looked like that were ever that close to him when he was thirteen, he’d have an erection for a week.

The applause was rapturous. Ira gave the crowd a royal wave.

“Ira!” Ray called out. “Are these your new goddesses? Is it true you may be adding a third to your harem?”

“Please,” Ira said with a practiced whine, “I’m entitled to my privacy!”

Ray managed not to vomit. “But your public wants to know.”

Fester the Sunglassed Bodyguard put a large mitt on Ray, allowing Ira to brush past him. Ray snapped, making sure the flash worked its magic. The band exploded—when did weddings and bar mitzvahs start playing music at a rock-stadium decibel?—into the new celebration anthem “Club Can’t Handle Me.” Ira dirty-danced with the two hired helpers. Then his thirteen-year-old friends joined in, crowding the dance floor, jumping straight up and down like pogo sticks. Ray “fought” through Fester, snapped some more pictures, checked his watch.

One more minute on the clock.

“Paparazzi scum!”

Another kick to the shins from some little cretin.

“Ow, damn it, that hurt!”

The cretin scurried away. Note to self, Ray thought: Start wearing shin guards. He looked over at Fester as though begging for mercy. Fester let him off the hook with a head gesture to follow him toward the corner. The corner was too loud so they slipped through the doors.

Fester pointed back into the ballroom with his enormous thumb. “Kid did a great job on his haftorah portion, don’t you think?”

Ray just stared at him.

“I got a job for you tomorrow,” Fester said.

“Groovy. What is it?”

Fester looked off.

Ray didn’t like that. “Uh-oh.”

“It’s George Queller.”

“Dear God.”

“Yes. And he wants the usual.”

Ray sighed. George Queller tried to impress first dates by overwhelming and ultimately terrifying them. He would hire Celeb Experience to swarm him and his date—for example, last month it was a woman named Nancy—as they entered a small romantic bistro. Once the date was safely inside, she would be presented with—no, this was for real—a custom-made menu that would read, “George and Nancy’s First Date of Many, Many” with the address, month, day, and year printed beneath. When they left the restaurant, the paparazzi for hire would be there, snapping away and shouting at how George had turned down a weekend in Turks and Caicos with Jessica Alba for the lovely and now-terror-stricken Nancy.

George considered these romantic maneuvers a prelude to happy-ever-after. Nancy and her ilk considered these romantic maneuvers a prelude to a ball gag and secluded storage unit.

There had never been a second date for George.

Fester finally took off his sunglasses. “I want you to work lead on the job.”

“Lead paparazzo,” Ray said. “I better call my mother, so she can brag to her mahjong group.”

Fester chuckled. “I love you, you know that.”

“Are we done here?”

Ray packed away his camera carefully, separating the lens from the body, and threw the case over his shoulder. He limped toward the door, not from the kicks but the hunk of shrapnel in his hip—the shrapnel that started his downward slide. No, that was too simple. The shrapnel was an excuse. At one time in his miserable life, Ray had fairly limitless potential. He’d graduated from Columbia University’s School of Journalism with what one professor called “almost supernatural talent”—now being wasted—in the area of photojournalism. But in the end, that life didn’t work out for him. Some people are drawn to trouble. Some people, no matter how easy the path they are given on the walk of life, will find a way to mess it all up.

Ray Levine was one of those people.

It was dark out. Ray debated whether he should just head home and go to bed or hit a bar so seedy it was called Tetanus. Tough call when you have so many options.

He thought about the dead body again.

The visions came fast and furious now. That was understandable, he supposed. Today was the anniversary of the day it all ended, when any hope of happy-ever-after died like… Well, the obvious metaphor here would involve the visions in his head, wouldn’t it?

He frowned. Hey, Ray, melodramatic much?

He had hoped that today’s inane job would take his mind off it. It hadn’t. He remembered his own bar mitzvah, the moment on the pulpit when his father bent down and whispered in his ear. He remembered how his father had smelled of Old Spice, how his father’s hand cupped Ray’s head so gently, how his father with tears in his eyes simply said, “I love you so much.”

Ray pushed the thought away. Less painful to think about the dead body.

The valets had wanted to charge him—no professional courtesy, he guessed—so Ray had found a spot three blocks down on a side street. He made the turn, and there it was—his piece-o-crap, twelve-year-old Honda Civic with a missing bumper and duct tape holding together a side window. Ray rubbed his chin. Unshaven. Unshaven, forty years old, piece-o-crap car, a basement apartment that if heavily renovated might qualify as a crap hole, no prospects, drank too much. He would feel sorry for himself, but that would involve, well, caring.

Ray was just taking out his car key when the heavy blow landed on the back of his head.

He dropped to one knee. The world went dark. The tingle ran up his scalp. Ray felt disoriented. He tried to shake his head, tried to clear it.

Another blow landed near his temple.

Something inside his head exploded in a flash of bright light. Ray collapsed to the ground, his body splayed out. He may have lost consciousness—he wasn’t sure—but suddenly he felt a pulling in his right shoulder. For a moment he just lay limp, not able or wanting to resist. His head reeled in agony. The primitive part of his brain, the base animal section, had gone into survivor mode. Escape more punishment, it said. Crawl into a ball and cover up.

Another hard tug nearly tore his shoulder out. The tug lessened and began to slip away, and with it, a realization made Ray’s eyes snap open.

Someone was stealing his camera.

The camera was a classic Leica with a recently updated digital-send feature. He felt his arm lift in the air, the strap running up it. In a second, no more, the camera would be gone.

Ray didn’t have much. The camera was the only possession he truly cherished. It was his livelihood, sure, but it was also the only link to old Ray, to that life he had known before the blood, and he’d be damned if he’d give that up without a fight.

The strap was off his arm now. He wondered whether he’d have another opportunity, whether the mugger would go for the fourteen bucks in his wallet and give Ray a chance. Couldn’t wait to find out.

With his head still swimming and his knees wobbling, Ray shouted, “No!” and tried to launch himself at his attacker. He hit something—legs maybe—and tried to wrap his arms around them. He didn’t get much of a grip, but the impact was enough.

The attacker fell down. So did Ray, landing on his stomach. Ray heard the clacking of something falling and hoped like hell that he hadn’t just shattered his own camera. He tried to blink his eyes open, managed to get them into slits, and saw the camera case a few feet away. He tried to scramble toward it, but as he did, he saw two things that made his blood freeze.

The first was a baseball bat on the pavement.

The second—and more to the point—was a gloved hand picking it up.

Ray tried to look up, but it was useless. He flashed back to the summer camp his father ran when he was a kid. Dad—the campers all called him Uncle Barry—used to lead a relay race where you hold a basketball directly over your head and spin as fast as you can, staring up at the ball, and then, dizzy beyond words, you had to dribble the length of the court and put the ball in the basket. The problem was, you got so dizzy from the spinning that you’d fall one way while the ball would go the other way. That was how he felt now, as though he were tumbling to the left, while the rest of the world teetered to the right.

The camera thief lifted the baseball bat and started toward him.

“Help!” Ray shouted.

No one appeared.

Panic seized Ray—followed quickly by a primitive survival instinctive reaction. Flee. He tried to stand, but, nope, that was simply not happening yet. Ray was already a weakened mess. One more shot, one more hard blow with that baseball bat…

The attacker took two steps toward him. Ray had no choice. Still on his stomach he scrambled away like a wounded crab. Oh, sure, that would work. That would be fast enough to keep away from the damn bat. The asswipe with the baseball bat was practically over him. He had no chance.

Ray’s shoulder hit something, and he realized that it was his car.

Above him he saw the bat coming up in the air. He was a second, maybe two, away from having his skull crushed. Only one chance and so he took it.

Ray turned his head so his right cheek was against the pavement, flattened his body as much as possible, and slid under his car. “Help!” he shouted again. Then to his attacker: “Just take the camera and go!”

The attacker did just that. Ray heard the footsteps disappear down the alley. Friggin’ terrific. He tried to slide himself out from under the car. His head protested, but he managed. He sat on the street now, his back against the passenger door of his car. He sat there for a while. Impossible to say how long. He may have even passed out.

When he felt that he was able, Ray cursed the world, slid into his car, and started it up.

Odd, he thought. The anniversary of all that blood—and he nearly has a ton of his own spilled. He almost smiled at the coincidence. He pulled out as the smile started sliding off his face.

A coincidence. Yep, just a coincidence. Not even a big one, when you thought about it. The night of blood had been seventeen years ago—hardly a silver anniversary or anything like that. Ray had been robbed before. Last year a drunk Ray had been rolled after leaving a strip club at two A.M. The moron had stolen his wallet and gotten away with a full seven dollars and a CVS discount card.

He found a spot on the street in front of the row house Ray called home. He rented the apartment in the basement. The house was owned by Amir Baloch, a Pakistani immigrant who lived there with his wife and four rather loud kids.

Suppose for a second, just a split second, that it wasn’t a coincidence.

Ray slid out of his car. His head still pounded. It would be worse tomorrow. He took the steps down past the garbage cans to the basement door and jammed the key into the lock. He racked his aching brain, trying to imagine any connection—the slightest, smallest, frailest, most obscure link—between that tragic night seventeen years ago and being jumped tonight.

Tonight was a robbery, plain and simple. You whack a guy over the head with a baseball bat, you snatch his camera, you run. Except, well, wouldn’t you steal his wallet too—unless maybe it was the same guy who rolled Ray near that strip joint and knew that he’d only had seven dollars? Heck, maybe that was the coincidence. Forget the timing and the anniversary. Maybe the attacker was the same guy who robbed Ray one year ago.

Oh boy, he was making no sense. Where the hell was that Vicodin?

He flipped on the television and headed into the bathroom. When he opened the medicine chest, a dozen bottles and whatnot fell into the sink. He fished into the pile and found the bottle with the Vicodin. At least he hoped that they were Vicodin. He’d bought them off the black market from a guy who claimed to smuggle them in from Canada. For all Ray knew, they were Flintstone vitamins.

The local news was on, showing some local fire, asking neighbors what they thought about the fire because, really, that always got you some wonderful insight. Ray’s cell phone rang. He saw Fester’s number pop up on the caller ID.

“What’s up?” Ray said, collapsing on the couch.

“You sound horrible.”

“I got mugged soon as I left Ira’s bar mitzvah.”

“For real?”

“Yep. Got hit over the head with a baseball bat.”

“They steal anything?”

“My camera.”

“Wait, so you lost today’s pictures?”

“No, no, don’t worry,” Ray said. “I’m fine, really.”

“On the inside I’m dying of worry. I’m asking about the pictures to cover my pain.”

“I have them,” Ray said.

His head hurt too much to explain, plus the Vicodin was knocking him to la-la land. “Don’t worry about it. They’re safe.”

A few years ago, when Ray did a stint as a “real” paparazzo, he’d gotten some wonderfully compromising photographs of a certain high-profile gay actor stepping out on his boyfriend with—gasp—a woman. The actor’s bodyguard forcibly took the camera from Ray and destroyed the SD card. Since then, Ray had put a send feature on his camera—something similar to what most people have on their camera phones—that automatically e-mailed the pictures off his SD card every ten minutes.

“That’s why I’m calling,” Fester said. “I need them fast. Pick out five of them and e-mail them to me tonight. Ira’s dad wants our new bar mitzvah paperweight cube right away.”

On the TV news, the camera panned over to the “meteorologist,” a curvy babe in a tight red sweater. Ratings bait. Ray’s eyes started to close as the hott finished up with the satellite photograph and sent it back to the over-coiffed anchorman.

“Five pics for a paperweight cube.”

“A cube has six sides,” Ray said.

“Whoa, get a load of the math genius. The sixth side is for the name, date, and a Star of David.”

“I need them ASAP.”

“Then everything is copasetic,” Fester said. “Except, well, without a camera, you can’t do George Queller tomorrow. Don’t worry. I’ll find somebody else.”

“Now I’ll sleep better.”

“You’re a funny guy, Ray. Get me the pics. Then get some rest.”

“I’m welling up from your concern, Fester.”

Both men hung up. Ray fell back onto the couch. The drug was working in a wonderful way. He almost smiled. On the TV, the anchorman strapped on his gravest voice and said, “Local man Carlton Flynn has gone missing. His car was found abandoned with the door open near the pier…”

Ray opened one eye and peeked out. A man-cum-boy with frosted tips in his spiky dark hair and a hoop earring was on the screen now. The guy was making kissy lips at the camera, the caption under him reading “Vanished,” when it probably should have read “Douchebag.” Ray frowned, a stray, vague concern passing through his head, but he couldn’t process it right now. His entire body craved sleep, but if he didn’t send in those five photographs, Fester would call again and who needed that? With great effort, Ray managed to get back to his feet. He stumbled to the kitchen table, booted up his laptop, and made sure that the pictures had indeed made it to his computer.

Something niggled at the back of his head, but Ray couldn’t say what. Maybe something irrelevant was bothering him. Maybe he was remembering something really important. Or maybe, most likely, the blow from the baseball bat had produced little skull fragments that were now literally scratching at his brain.

The bar mitzvah pictures came up in reverse order—last picture taken was first. Ray quickly scanned through the thumbs, choosing one dance shot, one family shot, one Torah shot, one with the rabbi, one with Ira’s grandmother kissing his cheek.

That was five. He attached them to Fester’s e-mail address and clicked send. Done.

Ray felt so tired that he wasn’t sure he could get up from the chair and make his way to the bed. He debated just putting his head down on the kitchen table and napping when he remembered the other photographs on that SD card, the ones he’d taken earlier in the day, before the bar mitzvah.

An overwhelming feeling of sadness flooded into his chest.

Ray had gone back to that damn park and snapped pictures. Dumb, but he did it every year. He couldn’t say why. Or maybe he could and that just made it worse. The camera lens gave him distance, gave him perspective, made him feel somehow safe. Maybe that was what it was. Maybe, somehow, seeing that horrible place through that oddly comforting angle would somehow change what could, of course, never be changed.

Ray looked at the pictures he’d taken earlier in the day on his computer monitor—and now he remembered something else.

A guy with frosted tips and a hoop earring.

Two minutes later, he found what he was looking for. His entire body went cold as the realization hit him.

The attacker hadn’t been after the camera. He’d been after a picture.

This picture.

MEGAN PIERCE WAS LIVING THE ultimate soccer-mom fantasy and hating it.

She closed the Sub-Zero fridge and looked at her two children through the bay windows off the breakfast nook. The windows offered up “essential morning light.” That was how the architect had put it. The newly renovated kitchen also had a Viking stove, Miele appliances, a marble island in the middle, and excellent flow to the family-cum-theater room with the big-screen TV, recliners with cup holders, and enough sound speakers to stage a Who concert.

Out in the backyard, Kaylie, her fifteen-year-old daughter, was picking on her younger brother, Jordan. Megan sighed and opened the window. “Cut it out, Kaylie.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“I’m standing right here watching you.”

Kaylie put her hands on her hips. Fifteen years old—that troubling adolescent cusp between adult and childhood, the body and hormones just starting to come to a boil. Megan remembered it well. “What did you see?” Kaylie asked in a challenge.

“I saw you picking on your brother.”

“You’re inside. You couldn’t hear anything. For all you know, I said, ‘I love you so much, Jordan.’”

“She did not!” Jordan shouted.

“I know she didn’t,” Megan said.

“She called me a loser and said I had no friends!”

Megan sighed. “Kaylie…”

“I did not!”

Megan just frowned at her.

“It’s his word against mine,” Kaylie protested. “Why do you always take his side?”

Every kid, Megan thought, is a frustrated lawyer, finding loopholes, demanding impossible levels of proof, attacking even the most minute of minutia.

“You have practice tonight,” Megan told Kaylie.

Kaylie’s head dropped to her shoulder, her entire body slumping. “Do I have to go?”

“You made a commitment to this team, young lady.”

Even as Megan said it—even as she had said similar words a zillion times before—she still couldn’t believe the words were coming from her own mouth.

“But I don’t want to go,” Kaylie whined. “I’m so tired. And I’m supposed to go out with Ginger later, remember, to…”

Kaylie may have said more, but Megan turned away, not really interested. In the TV room, her husband, Dave, was sprawled out in gray sweats. Dave was watching the latest fallen movie actor bragging in some tasteless interview about the many women he’d bagged and the years of scoring at strip clubs. The actor was manic and wide-eyed and clearly on something that required a physician with a loose prescription pad.

From his spot on the couch, Dave shook his head in disgust. “What is this world coming to?” Dave said, gesturing at the screen. “Can you believe this jerk? What a tool.”

Megan nodded, suppressing a smile. Years ago she had known that tool quite well. Biblically even. The Tool was actually a pretty nice guy who tipped well, enjoyed threesomes, and cried like a baby when he drank too much.

A long time ago.

Dave turned and smiled at her with everything he had. “Hey, babe.”

Dave still did that, smiled at her as though seeing her anew, for the first time, and she knew again that she was lucky, that she should be grateful. This was Megan’s life now. That old life—the one nobody in this happy suburban wonderland of cul-de-sacs and good schools and brick McMansions knew about—had been killed off and buried in a shallow ditch.

“You want me to drive Kaylie to soccer?” Dave asked.

“I can do it.”

“You’re sure?”

Megan nodded. Not even Dave knew the truth about the woman who had shared his bed for the past sixteen years. Dave didn’t even know that Megan’s real name was, strangely enough, Maygin. Same pronunciation but computers and IDs only know spelling. She would have asked her mother why the weird spelling, but her mother had died before Megan could talk. She had never known her father or even who he was. She’d been orphaned young, grew up hard, ended up stripping in Vegas and then Atlantic City, took it a step further, loved it. Yes, loved it. It was fun and exciting and electrifying. There was always something going on, always a sense of danger and possibility and passion.

It was Jordan. “Yes, honey.”

“Mrs. Freedman says you didn’t sign the permission slip for the class trip.”

“I’ll send her an e-mail.”

“She said it was due on Friday.”

“Don’t worry about it, honey, okay?”

It took Jordan another moment or two but eventually he was placated.

Megan knew that she should be grateful. Girls die young in her old life. Every emotion, every second in that world, is almost too intense—life raised to the tenth power—and that doesn’t jibe with longevity. You get burned out. You get strung out. There is a heady quality to that kind of action. There is also an inherent danger. When it finally spun out of control, when Megan’s very life was suddenly in jeopardy, she had not only found a way to escape but to start over completely anew, reborn if you will, with a loving husband, beautiful children, a home with four bedrooms, and a pool in the yard.

Somehow, almost by accident really, Megan Pierce had stumbled from the depths of what some might call a seedy cesspool into the ultimate American dream. She had, in order to save herself, played it straight and almost talked herself into believing that this was the best possible world. And why not? For her entire life, in movies and on television, Megan, like the rest of us, had been inundated with images claiming that her old life was wrong, immoral, wouldn’t last—while this family life, the house and picket fence, was enviable, appropriate, celestial.

But here was the truth: Megan missed her old life. She was not supposed to. She was supposed to be grateful and thrilled that she of all people, with the destructive route she’d taken, had ended up with what every little girl dreams of. But the truth was, a truth it had taken her years to admit to herself, she still longed for those dark rooms; the lustful, hungry stares from strangers; the pounding, pulsating music; the crazy lights; the adrenaline spikes.

Dave flipping stations: “So you don’t mind driving? Because the game is on.”

Kaylie looking through her gym bag: “Mom, where’s my uniform? Did you wash it like I asked?”

Jordan opening the Sub-Zero: “Can you make me a grilled cheese in the panini maker? And not with that whole grain bread.”

She loved them. She did. But there were times, like today, when she realized that after a youth of skating along slippery surfaces she had now settled into a domestic rut of dazzling sameness, each day forced to perform the same show with the same players as the day before, just each player one day older. Megan wondered why it had to be this way, why we are forced to choose one life. Why do we insist that there can only be one “us,” one life that makes us up in our entirety? Why can’t we have more than one identity? And why do we have to destroy one life in order to create another? We claim to long for the “well rounded,” the Renaissance man or woman inside all of us, yet our only variety is cosmetic. In reality we do all we can to smother that spirit out, to make us conform, to define us as one thing and one thing only.

Dave flipped back to the fallen movie star. “This guy,” Dave said with a shake of head. But just hearing that famous manic voice brought Megan back—his hand twined in her thong, his face pressed against her back, scruffy and wet from tears.

“You’re the only one who understands me, Cassie.…”

Yes, she missed it. Was that really so horrible?

She didn’t think so, but it kept haunting her. Had she made a mistake? These memories, the life of Cassie because no one uses a real name in that world, had been kept locked up in a small back room in her head all these years. And then, a few days ago, she had unbolted the door and let it open just a crack. She had quickly slammed it closed and locked it back up. But just that crack, just letting Cassie have a quick gaze into the world between Maygin and Megan—why was she so sure that there would be repercussions?

Dave rolled off the couch and headed for the bathroom, the newspaper tucked under his armpit. Megan warmed up the panini maker and searched for the white bread. As she opened the drawer, the phone rang, giving off an electronic chirp. Kaylie stood next to the phone, ignoring it, texting.

“You want to answer that?” Megan asked.

“It’s not for me.”

Kaylie could pull out and answer her own mobile phone with a speed that would have intimidated Wyatt Earp, but the home phone, with a number unknown to the Kasselton teenage community, held absolutely no interest to her.

“Pick it up, please.”

“What’s the point? I’d just have to hand it to you.”

Jordan, who at the tender age of eleven always wanted to keep the peace, grabbed it. “Hello?”

He listened for a moment and then said, “You have the wrong number.” And then Jordan added something that chilled Megan: “There’s no one here named Cassie.”

Making up some excuse about the delivery people always getting her name wrong—and knowing that her children were so wonderfully self-involved that they wouldn’t question it anyway—Megan took the phone from her son and vanished into the other room.

She put the receiver to her ear, and a voice she hadn’t heard in seventeen years said, “I’m sorry to call you like this, but I think we need to meet.”

MEGAN DROPPED OFF KAYLIE AT SOCCER PRACTICE.

She was, considering the bombshell call, fairly calm and serene. She put the car in park and turned to her daughter, dewy-eyed.

Kaylie said, “What?”

“Nothing. What time does practice end?”

“I don’t know. I might go out with Gabi and Chuckie afterward.”

Might meaning will . “Where?”

Shrug. “Town.”

The nice vague teenage answer. “Where in town?”

“I don’t know, Mom,” she said, allowing a little annoyance in. Kaylie wanted to move this along, but she didn’t want to piss off her mother and not be allowed to go. “We’re just going to hang out, okay?”

“Did you do all your homework?”

Megan hated herself the moment she asked the question. Such a Mom moment. She put her hand up and said to her daughter, “Forget that. Just go. Have fun.”

Kaylie looked at her mother as though a small arm had suddenly sprouted out of her forehead. Then she shrugged, got out of the car, and ran off. Megan watched. Always. It didn’t matter that she was old enough to enter a field by herself. Megan had to watch until she was sure that her daughter was safe.

Ten minutes later, Megan found a parking spot behind the Starbucks. She checked her watch. Fifteen minutes until the meet.

She grabbed a latte and found a table in the back. At the table to her left, a potpourri of new moms—sleep deprived, stained clothes, deliriously happy, all with baby in tow—were yapping away. They talked about the best new strollers and which Pack ’n Play folded up easiest and how long to breast-feed. They debated cedar playgrounds with tire mulch and what age to stop with the pacifier and the safest car seats and the back baby sling versus the front baby sling versus the side baby sling. One bragged about how her son, Toddy, was “so sensitive to the needs of other children, even though he’s only eighteen months old.”

Megan smiled, wishing that she could be them again. She had loved the new-mommy stage, but like so many other stages of life, you look back at it now and wonder when they fixed your lobotomy. She knew what will come next with these mothers—picking the right preschool as though it were a life ’n’ death decision, waiting in the pickup line, positioning their kids for the elite playdates, Little Gym classes, karate lessons, lacrosse practice, French immersion courses, constant carpools. The happy turns to harried, and the harried becomes routine. The once-understanding husband slowly gets grumpier because you still don’t want as much sex as before the baby. You as a couple, the you who used to sneak off to do the dirty in every available spot, barely glance at each other when naked anymore. You think it doesn’t matter—that it’s natural and inevitable—but you drift. You love each other, in some ways more than ever, but you drift and you either don’t fight it or don’t really see it. You become caretakers of the children, your world shrinking down to the size and boundaries of your offspring, and it all becomes so polite and close-knit and warm—and maddening and smothering and numbing.

“Well, well, well.”

The familiar voice made Megan automatically smile. The voice still had the sexy rasp of whiskey, cigarettes, and late nights, where every utterance had a hint of a laugh and a dollop of a double entendre.

“Hi, Lorraine.”

Lorraine gave her a crooked smile. Her hair was a bad blond dye job and too big. Lorraine was big and fleshy and curvy and made sure that you saw it. Her clothes looked two sizes too small, and yet that worked for her. After all these years, Lorraine still made an impression. Even the mommies stopped to stare with just the proper amount of distaste. Lorraine shot them a look that told them she knew what they thought and where they could stick that thought. The mommies turned away.

“You look good, kid,” Lorraine said.

She sat, making a production of it. It had been, yes, seventeen years. Lorraine had been a hostess/manager/cocktail waitress/bartender. Lorraine had lived the life, and she lived it hard and without any apologies.

“I’ve missed you,” Megan said.

“Yeah, I could tell from all the postcards.”

“I’m sorry about that.”

Lorraine waved her off, as if annoyed by the sentiment. She fumbled into her purse and pulled out a cigarette. The nearby mommies gasped as though she’d pulled out a firearm. “Man, I should light this thing just to watch them flee.”

Megan leaned forward. “If you don’t mind my asking, how did you find me?”

The crooked smile returned. “Come on, honey. I’ve always known. I got eyes everywhere, you know that.”

Megan wanted to ask more, but something in Lorraine’s tone told her to let it be.

“Look at you,” Lorraine said. “Married, kids, big house. Lots of white Cadillac Escalades in the lot. One of them yours?”

“No. I’m the black GMC Acadia.”

Lorraine nodded as though that answer meant something. “I’m happy you found something here, though, to be honest? I always thought you’d be a lifer, you know? Like me.”

Lorraine let out a small chuckle and shook her head.

“I know,” Megan said. “I kinda surprised myself.”

“Of course, not all the girls who end up back on the straight and narrow choose it.” Lorraine looked off as though the comment was a throwaway. Both women knew that it was not. “We had some laughs, didn’t we?”

“I still do,” she said. “This”—she eye-gestured toward the mommies—“I mean, I admire it. I really do. But I don’t know. It’s not me.” She shrugged. “Maybe I’m too selfish. It’s like I got ADD or something. I need something to stimulate me.”

“Kids can stimulate, believe me.”

“Yeah?” she said, clearly not buying it. “Well, I’m glad to hear that.”

Megan wasn’t sure how to continue. “So you still work at La Crème?”

“Yep. Bartending mostly.”

“So why the sudden call?”

Lorraine fiddled with the unlit cigarette. The moms went back to their inane chatter, though with less enthusiasm. They constantly sneaked glances at Lorraine, as if she were some virus introduced into their suburban life-form with a mission to destroy it.

“Like I said, I’ve always known where you were. But I would never say anything. You know that, right?”

“And I didn’t want to bug you now either. You escaped, last thing I wanted to do was drag you back in.”

Lorraine met her eye. “Someone spotted you. Or I should say, Cassie.”

Megan shifted in the chair.

“You’ve been coming to La Crème, haven’t you?”

Megan said nothing.

“Hey, I get it. Believe me. If I hung out with these sunshines all day”—Lorraine pointed with her thumb at the maternal gaggle—“I’d sacrifice farm animals for a night out now and again.”

Megan looked down at her coffee as though it might hold an answer. She had indeed returned to La Crème, but only once. Two weeks ago, near the anniversary of her escape, she had gone to Atlantic City for a mundane training seminar and trade show. With the kids getting older, Megan had decided to try to find a job in residential real estate. The past few years had been all about finding the next thing—there had been the private trainer and yoga classes and ceramics and finally a memoir-writing group, which in Megan’s case had of course been fiction. Each of the activities was a desperate attempt to find the elusive “fulfillment” that those who have everything crave. In reality, they were looking up when perhaps they should have been looking down, searching for enlightened spirituality when all along Megan knew that the answer probably lay with the more base and primitive.

If she were asked, Megan would claim that she didn’t plan it. It was spur of the moment, no big deal, but on her second night down staying at the Tropicana, a scant two blocks from La Crème, she donned her clingiest outfit and visited the club.

“You saw me?” Megan asked.

“No. And I guess you didn’t seek me out.”

There was hurt in Lorraine’s voice. Megan had seen her old friend behind the bar and kept her distance. The club was big and dark. People liked to get lost in places like that. It was easy not to be seen.

“I didn’t mean…” Megan stopped. “So who then?”

“I don’t know. But it’s true?”

“It was only one time,” Megan said.

Lorraine said nothing.

“I don’t understand. What’s the problem?”

“Why did you come back?”

“Does it matter?”

“Not to me,” Lorraine said. “But a cop found out. Same one who’s been looking for you all these years. He’s never given up.”

“And now you think he’ll find me?”

“Yeah,” Lorraine said. “I think there’s a pretty good chance he’ll find you.”

“So this visit is a warning?”

“Something like that.”

“What else is it?”

“I don’t know what happened that night,” Lorraine said. “And I don’t want to know. I’m happy. I like my life. I do what I please with whom I please. I don’t get into other people’s stuff, you know what I’m saying?”

“And I may be wrong. I mean, you know how the club is. Bad lighting. And it’s been, what, seventeen years? So I could have been mistaken. It was only for a second, but for all I know it was the same night you were there. But what with you back and now someone else gone missing…”

“What are you talking about, Lorraine? What did you see?”

Lorraine looked up and swallowed. “Stewart,” she said, fiddling with the unlit cigarette. “I think I saw Stewart Green.”

WITH A HEAVY SIGH, Detective Broome approached the doomed house and rang the bell. Sarah opened the door and with nary a glance said, “Come on in.” Broome wiped his feet, feeling sheepish. He took off the old trench coat and draped it over his arm. Nothing inside the house had changed in all these years. The dated recessed lighting, the white leather couch, the old recliner in the corner—all the same. Even the photographs on the fireplace mantel hadn’t been switched out. For a long time, at least five years, Sarah had left her husband’s slippers by that old recliner. They were gone now, but the chair remained. Broome wondered if anybody ever sat in it.

It was as though the house refused to move on, as though the walls and ceilings were grieving and waiting. Or maybe that was projecting. People need answers. They need closure. Hope, Broome knew, could be a wonderful thing. But hope could crush you anew every single day. Hope could be the cruelest thing in the world.

“You missed the anniversary,” Sarah said.

Broome nodded, not ready to tell her why yet. “How are the kids?”

Sarah’s children were practically grown now. Susie was a junior at Bucknell. Brandon was a high school senior. They had been little more than babies when their father vanished, ripped from this tidy household, never to be seen by any of his loved ones again. Broome had never solved the case. He had never let it go either. You shouldn’t get personally involved. He knew that. But he had. He had gone to Susie’s dance recitals. He had helped teach Brandon how to throw a baseball. He had even, twelve years ago and to his great shame, had too much to drink with Sarah and, well, stayed the whole night.

“How’s the new job?” Broome asked her.

“Is your sister coming in soon?”

Sarah sighed. “Yep.”

Sarah was still an attractive woman. There were crow’s-feet by the eyes, and the lines around her mouth had deepened over the years. Aging works well on some women. Sarah was one of them.

She was also a cancer survivor, twenty-plus years now. She had told Broome this the first time they met, sitting in this very room, when he had come here to investigate the disappearance. The diagnosis had been made, Sarah explained to him, when she was pregnant with Susie. If it wasn’t for her husband, Sarah insisted, she would have never survived. She wanted Broome to understand that. When the prognosis was bad, when the chemo made Sarah vomit continuously, when she lost her hair and her looks, when her body started to decay, when no one else, including Sarah, had any hope—that word again—he and he alone had stuck by her.

Which proved yet again that there was no explaining the complexities and hypocrisies of human nature.

He stayed up with her. He held her forehead late at night. He fetched her medicines and kissed her cheek and held her shivering body and made her feel loved.

She had looked Broome in the eye and told him all this because she wanted him to stay with the case, to not dismiss her husband as a runaway, to get personally involved, to find her soul mate because she simply could not live without him.

Seventeen years later, despite learning some hard truths, Broome was still here. And the whereabouts of Sarah’s husband and soul mate was still very much a mystery.

Broome looked up at her now. “That’s good,” he said, hearing the babble in his own voice. “I mean, about your sister’s visiting. I know you like when your sister visits.”

“Yeah, it’s awesome,” Sarah said, a voice flat enough to slip under a door crack. “Broome?”

“You’re giving me small talk.”

Broome looked down at his hands. “I was just trying to be nice.”

“No. See, you don’t do just being nice, Broome. And you never do small talk.”

“Good point.”

Despite all the trappings—bright yellow paint, fresh-cut flowers—all Broome could see was the decay. The years of not knowing had devastated the family. The kids had some hard years. Susie had two DUIs. Brandon had a drug bust. Broome had helped both of them get out of trouble. The house still looked as though their father had disappeared yesterday—frozen in time, waiting for his return.

Sarah’s eyes widened a little as if struck by a painful realization. “Did you find… ?”

“What then?”

“It may be nothing,” Broome said.

Broome sat resting his forearms on his thighs, his head in his hands. He took a deep breath and looked into the pained eyes. “Another local man vanished. You may have seen it on the news. His name is Carlton Flynn.”

Sarah looked confused. “When you say vanished—”

“Just like…” He stopped. “One moment Carlton Flynn was living his life, the next—poof—he was gone. Totally vanished.”

Sarah tried to process what he was saying. “But… like you told me from the start. People do vanish, right?”

Broome nodded.

“Sometimes of their own volition,” Sarah continued. “Sometimes not. But it happens.”

“So seventeen years after my husband vanishes, another man, this Carlton Flynn, goes missing. I don’t see the connection.”

“There might be none,” Broome agreed.

She moved closer to him. “But?”

“But it’s why I missed the anniversary.”

“What does that mean?”

Broome didn’t know how much to say. He didn’t know how much he even knew for sure yet. He was working on a theory, one that gnawed at his belly and kept him up at night, but right now that was all it was.

“The day Carlton Flynn vanished,” he said.

“What about it?”

“It’s why I wasn’t here. He vanished on the anniversary. February eighteenth—exactly seventeen years to the day after your husband vanished.”

Sarah seemed stunned for a moment. “Seventeen years to the day.”

“What does that mean? Seventeen years. It might just be a coincidence. If it was five or ten or twenty years. But seventeen?”

He said nothing, letting her work on it herself for a few moments.

Sarah said, “So I assume, what, you checked for more missing people? To see if there was a pattern?”

“Those were the only two we know for certain who disappeared on a February eighteenth—your husband and Carlton Flynn.”

“We know for certain?” she repeated.

Broome let loose a deep breath. “Last year, on March fourteenth, another local man, Stephen Clarkson, was reported missing. Three years earlier, on February twenty-seventh, another was also reported missing.”

“Neither was found?”

Sarah swallowed. “So maybe it’s not the day. Maybe it’s February and March.”

  • Print length 464 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Dutton
  • Publication date February 12, 2013
  • Dimensions 4.31 x 1.05 x 7.5 inches
  • ISBN-10 0451233964
  • ISBN-13 978-0451233967
  • See all details

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dutton; Reprint edition (February 12, 2013)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 464 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0451233964
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0451233967
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.6 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 4.31 x 1.05 x 7.5 inches
  • #1,231 in Serial Killer Thrillers
  • #1,537 in Murder Thrillers
  • #5,544 in Suspense Thrillers

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About the author

synopsis of book stay close

Harlan Coben

With over 70 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times author of thirty one novels including RUN AWAY, FOOL ME ONCE, TELL NO ONE, NO SECOND CHANCE and the renowned Myron Bolitar series. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.

Harlan is the creator and executive producer for the Netflix television dramas SAFE starring Michael C. Hall, Audrey Fleurot and Amanda Abbington, and THE FIVE starring Tom Cullen and OT Fagbenle. He is currently filming THE STRANGER, based on his novel, for Netflix starring Richard Armitage, Siobhan Finneran, Jennifer Saunders and Stephen Rea. Harlan was also showrunner and executive producer for two French TV mini-series, UNE CHANCE DE TROP (NO SECOND CHANCE) with Alexandra Lamy and JUST UN REGARD (JUST ONE LOOK) with Virginie Ledoyen. KEINE ZWEIT CHANCE, also based on Harlan’s novel, aired in Germany on Sat1.

Harlan’s novel TELL NO ONE (NE LE DIS A PERSONNE) was turned into the renowned French film, directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Francois Cluzet. The movie was the top box office foreign-language film of the year in USA, won the Lumiere (French Golden Globe) for best picture and was nominated for nine Cesars (French Oscar) and won four, including best actor, best director and best music. The movie with subtitles is now available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and DVD/Blu-Ray.

Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

In his first books, Coben immersed himself in the exploits of sports agent Myron Bolitar. Critics loved the series, saying, “You race to turn pages…both suspenseful and often surprisingly funny” (People). After seven books Coben wanted to try something different. “I came up with a great idea that simply would not work for Myron,” says Coben. The result was the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller TELL NO ONE, which became the most decorated thriller of the year. Two books later, Bookspan, recognizing Coben’s broad international appeal, named NO SECOND CHANCE its first ever International Book of the Month in 2003 – the Main Selection in 15 different countries.

Harlan was the first writer in more than a decade to be invited to write fiction for the NEW YORK TIMES op-ed page. His Father’s Day short story, THE KEY TO MY FATHER, appeared June 15, 2003. His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications including the New York Times, Parade Magazine and Bloomberg Views.

Harlan has received an eclectic variety of honors from all over the world. In Paris, he was awarded the prestigious Vermeil Medal of Honor for contributions to culture and society by the Mayor of Paris. He was won the El Premio del Novela Negra RBA in Spain, the Grand Prix de Lectrices in France, and the CWA/ITV3 Bestseller Dagger for favorite crime novelist in England. On the other end of the spectrum, Little League Baseball inducted Harlan into their Hall of Excellence in 2013, and Harlan is also a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame from his playing days at Amherst College.

Harlan 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.

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What is Stay Close about?

By crystal george | dec 15, 2021.

Stay Close - Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2021DSC_7002.nef

Stay Close  will be dropped on Netflix on Dec. 31, and we can hardly contain our excitement! We’re getting closer and closer to the miniseries release date, and people are becoming extremely anxious.

Many of us have been watching Christmas movies all month long to get ready for Christmas and feel like we’ve seen our fair share of Christmas content. We want to watch something that will increase our heart rate and have us biting our nails and yelling at the screen.  Stay Close meets all the criteria, and Dec. 31 just isn’t close enough!

There were so many highly anticipated Netflix titles that came out in 2021. We still have  The Witcher  season 2 , Emily in Paris  season 2,  Cobra Kai season 4,   Don’t Look Up ,  The Lost Daughter , and  Stay Close  scheduled to be released within the next couple of weeks. Netflix sure knows how to close out a year!

To properly prepare you for the release of  Stay Close , it’s only right that we share with you what this crime drama miniseries is about. So, continue reading if you want a detailed synopsis of this upcoming Netflix original series.

Stay Close synopsis

Are you a fan of the brilliant author Harlan Coben ? If so, you’re probably familiar with his work and know that  Stay Close is based on his 2012 book titled the same name. It’s an eight-episode miniseries that follows the lives of four people who harbor dark secrets. But when those dark secrets resurface and come back to haunt them, what will they do?

Here’s the official synopsis via Netflix below:

"With trademark thrills, gripping suspense and secrets of past crimes beginning to unravel, Stay Close questions how much you really know someone. Four people each conceal dark secrets from those closest to them; Megan (Jumbo) a working mother of three, Ray (Armitage), a once-promising documentary photographer, Broome (Nesbitt) a detective unable to let go of a missing person’s cold case, and Lorraine (Parish), an old friend of Megan’s. As the past comes back to haunt them, threatening to ruin their lives and the lives of those around them, what will be their next move?"

If you’d like, you can also check out the official trailer right below.

Cush Jumbo, James Nesbitt, Richard Armitage, Eddie Izzard, Jo Joyner, Youssef Kerkour, Sarah Parish, Daniel Francis, Dylan Francis, Andi Osho, Bethany Antonia, Rachel Andrews, Poppy Gilbert, Hyoie O’Grady, and Phillip Gascoyne star in this miniseries.

This suspenseful television series will definitely have you thoroughly entertained throughout the entire season. It will also have you questioning how much you really know someone in your own life.

Stay Close will land on Netflix on Dec. 31 at 12:01 a.m. PT, which is 3:01 a.m. ET. Who will you be watching this crime drama show with?

dark. Next. 36 best Netflix shows of 2021 that everyone needs to watch

The Cinemaholic

Stay Close Ending, Explained: Who is the Killer?

Arka Mukhopadhyay of Stay Close Ending, Explained: Who is the Killer?

Created by Harlan Coben based on the author’s eponymous bestselling novel, ‘Stay Close’ is an intricate and captivating crime drama limited series that keeps you on the edge of your seat. After a traumatic episode on the carnival night 17 years ago, Cassie has changed her name and identity. However, old wounds open up when she visits her old workplace for closure. Stewart Green went missing on the day Cassie left her old life.

With the disappearance of Carlton Flynn in the same month, the police try to find a pattern. Down and out, detective Broome and his ex-wife Erin discover a possible serial killer on the horizon, but the killer may be closer to the home than they can imagine. The tale is an intricate puzzle, and some aspects may elude you. If you seek to explore the story’s ending in greater detail, let us dissect the finale. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Stay Close Recap

Before the happily married life with average Dave, Megan, or Cassie, was a working girl in the strip club Vipers. She left the scene without saying her goodbyes, and now the past seeps back into the present with the sudden reappearance of Stewart Green. The words on the street make her worry that her carefully constructed life is about to fall apart. On April 17, on the eve of the Carnival, she goes back to the strip club and meets her old friend Lorraine.

synopsis of book stay close

Megan’s daughter Kayleigh follows her into the nightclub. At the party or the Carnival, Kayleigh and her friend, Bea, encounter Carlton Flynn. He spikes their drinks while Bea exchanges the glasses. On that day, Carlton Flynn goes missing. While on the case of Carlton Flynn’s disappearance, world-weary detective Broome discovers that Stewart Green went missing around the same time in April. He speculates whether there can be a serial killer behind the disappearances.

Following Lorraine’s advice, Megan meets drug-addled lawyer Harry Sutton in his den Hannibal Animals. When some of Harry’s associates coerce her for money, she is met with hostility, but Cassie shows remarkable kicking skills. She flees the scene. With the reappearance of Ray Levine, the mystery deepens. Following her abusive relationship with Stewart Green, Megan embarked upon a liaison with Ray, a photographer who suffers blackouts.

The police discover that Carlton Flynn was seeing Tawny Allure around that time. Meanwhile, Tawny Allure goes back home from work to meet her doom. A dancing assassin couple, Ken and Barbie, eliminate Allure, and one of their dance numbers follows. Elsewhere, Dave deliberately drowns a car, and we realize he is not letting everything out. On the other hand, Broome goes back to Vipers to distribute missing person leaflets despite hostility from the club. He hits it off with Lorraine in the process, and Erin keeps snarking about it. After Tawny Allure, the assassin duo dispatch Harry.

Meanwhile, following the discovery of a corpse, that of Guy Tatum, the mystery veers off the course. The possible suspects in this whodunit include Dave, Ray, and even Megan herself. However, as it often happens, the killer turns out to be someone nobody would suspect in the first place. After meeting with Surya Jaiswal from the social media detective agency Pink Poirot, Broome realizes that Stewart Green, Carlton Flynn, Guy Tatum, Zain Kaleed, Jacob Farrell, Stephen Clarkson, and others disappeared in April, on the day of the Carnival.

synopsis of book stay close

Although Ray is not a killer, according to his close buddy Fester, his blackout episodes entail waking up all covered in blood. Fester divulges that Ray appeared on his doorstep covered in blood following Stewart Green’s disappearance. It is revealed that Barbie and Ken are appointed by Carlton Flynn’s father, Del Flynn, to cause the bloodbath. Meanwhile, we realize that corrupt cop Goldberg is in league with the perpetrators. In the end, the police hit the jackpot in the woods with skeletons of 15 dead bodies in a bunker. However, Stewart Green and Carlton Flynn may or may not be among them.

Stay Close Ending: Who Is The Killer? Is Ray Released?

In the finality of events, the police take Ray into custody. In the course of the story, we realize that Ray remembers more about the night than he spills. However, Ray would only speak to the police in the presence of his former flame, Cassie (or Megan). When Ray and Cassie talk to each other, a shaken Ray tells Cassie that he knows about her involvement in Stewart Green’s death. Cassie also has a motif to get away from an abusive relationship. As Ray recollects, he saw Cassie running through the woods just before discovering the blood-laden body of Stewart Green.

Cassie, on the other hand, suspects Ray to be the killer. On the night of the Carnival 17 years ago, Cassie received a message from Ray’s phone, and by the time she reached the crime scene, Green was already dead. As the fog of confusion lifts, we sense that Cassie’s disappearance caused much of Ray’s trauma. As Ray was convinced that Cassie was the killer, he had to chop up Stewart Green’s body and throw it into the river to save the love of his life from conviction. With this revelation, it becomes clear that Stewart Green is not among the skeletons in the bunker.

synopsis of book stay close

A twist in the tale reveals the killer’s identity in the finality of the penultimate episode. Broome deduces Lorraine’s impending doom in the hands of hit-man Ken, but when Broome reaches Lorraine’s home, Ken lies dead on the floor. Lorraine, caught with blood on her hands, divulges to Broome that she killed all those people, including Stewart Green. In the case of Stewart Green, her motive was to save Cassie.

Abused by her husband from an early age, Lorriane serves as a self-ordained vigilante for people who harass women in Vipers on the day of the Carnival. She must be pretty good at what she does since she has operated undetected for more than a decade. It takes Broome a while to realize that his new girlfriend is a serial killer, but he promises to “stay close” to Lorraine. With the devastating revelation, the finale comes to its destined close, while another mystery remains to be solved.

Is Carlton Flynn Dead or Alive? Who Killed Carlton Flynn?

synopsis of book stay close

Carlton Flynn’s disappearance unleashes the mayhem in hindsight. Carlton Flynn sought to spike the drinks of Kayleigh and Bea on the night of the Carnival, but the kids’ presence of mind saves them a mishap. In the end, Ray gets released from custody, and he catches a glimpse of her presumed-dead girlfriend, Megan, before charting new frontiers in life. On the other hand, the police also find Goldberg’s body from the station. However, while the mystery behind Stewart Green’s disappearance is resolved, we still look for clues regarding Carlton Flynn. Considering the decay of the bodies found in the bunker, Carlton is not among them.

However, the finale makes the picture clearer as we revisit the night of Flynn’s disappearance. After drinking the drink meant for Bea, the world blurs for Flynn. The girls flee with Flynn’s car key, but the abuser shortly catches up with them. Kayleigh strikes Flynn hard and places Flynn’s body in the car’s trunk. They take the car for a run, and after running out of gas, Kayleigh calls up Dave for help. While Dave acknowledges to Megan that he spotted the abandoned car, he does not spill that he drowned the vehicle to save the children. When the photo of Flynn’s car circulates in the media, a scared Dave drives it into a nearby lake, unaware that Flynn is still inside the trunk.

Read More: Is Stay Close Based On A True Story?

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synopsis of book stay close

Stay Close ending explained: What happens to Megan and Dave?

Harlan Coben's latest Netflix thriller Stay Close comes to a dramatic end. **SPOILER WARNING**

Cush Jumbo stars in Stay Close

  • David Craig
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Netflix’s Stay Close , based on literary mastermind Harlen Coben’s 2012 thriller of the same name, has come to an epic conclusion with its eighth episode.

The series follows mum-of-three Megan ( Cush Jumbo ) whose life is thrown into chaos when her dark past returns to haunt her.

After twists and turns galore, the finale tied up all the loose ends and finally revealed the identity of the serial killer who had buried corpses in the woods. So, who is the killer?

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Read on for everything you need to know about the ending of Netflix’s Stay Close – and decide what you think for yourself. (Be warned: full spoilers for Stay Close follow.)

Harlan Coben's Stay Close ending explained

Who killed stewart green in stay close.

Jo Joyner and James Nesbitt in Harlan Coben's Stay Close

One of the biggest mysteries in this series has surrounded the fate of Stewart Green, an abusive man who became obsessed with nightclub dancer Cassie (Cush Jumbo), before mysteriously disappearing one night 17 years ago.

More like this

The cold case roars back into life when Broome notes that several other men have vanished on the same night in subsequent years, with the latest being Carlton Flynn, the son of a wealthy businessman.

He hires murderous private investigators Ken (Hyoie O'Grady) and Barbie (Poppy Gilbert) to get to the bottom of the case – and in a certain sense, they do.

Ken closes in on Vipers owner Lorraine (Sarah Parish) for information on Carlton's whereabouts, with the brute expecting to easily overpower her as he has done so many others in the past.

He gets more than he bargained for when Lorraine proves to be rather lethal herself – that's right, Lorraine is the one who murdered Stewart Green (and several other men before him, hiding their bodies in an underground bunker near the club).

However, Green's remains are not found among the corpses, as it turns out that Ray had stumbled upon his body that fateful night and disposed of it in the river, hoping to protect Cassie as he feared she would be involved somehow.

DI Broome walks in on Lorraine, his lover, mere moments after she killed Ken, and she confesses that she has an annual tradition of murdering abusive men, as revenge on a former partner who caused her to have a miscarriage.

Read more: Stay Close stars talk Ken and Barbie – the 'musical theatre murderers'

Who killed Carlton Flynn in Stay Close?

Poppy Gilbert (Barbie) in Stay Close

Broome takes Lorraine into custody and she admits responsibility for the death of Carlton Flynn, claiming she put his body with the others in the bunker and has no idea why it is no longer there.

We later learn that she's lying to protect Kayleigh Shaw (Bethany Antonia), who she spotted being chased by Carlton that night and most likely figured had something to do with his disappearance.

Given that she is terminally ill and has a genuine fondness for Cassie, Kayleigh's mother, it makes sense that this is the decision she would make.

Little does she know that Kayleigh was not directly responsible for Carlton's demise.

Shockingly, it was her all-around nice guy father, Dave (Daniel Francis) – and he doesn't even know it.

On the night of Carlton's disappearance, he rushed out to pick up Kayleigh and her friend Bea, who had been left stranded in the woods, asking no questions about what could possibly have led them to that predicament.

As he pulls away from the scene, he spots a bright orange car, which is later featured in a news report about a missing person (aka Carlton), causing alarm bells to go off in his head.

Fearing that his daughter might be involved in something serious, he drives back to the spot and pushes the mysterious vehicle into the river, to keep it hidden from authorities and his daughter out of trouble.

Big mistake! As it turns out, Kayleigh had put Carlton in the boot of his own car, as he had been chasing her through the woods after mistakenly drinking a spiked beverage he had attempted to give her.

No one ever let him out, so Carlton was still in the boot when Dave returned to push the car into the river, meaning he drowned inside the vehicle without anyone ever realising.

That is, except Cassie (now known as Megan), who has been a confidante for both her husband and her daughter, piecing together their separate stories to learn the horrifying secret they contain.

Richard Armitage in Netflix's Stay Close

Stay Close star Richard Armitage praised the ending in an interview with RadioTimes.com , admiring the parallels it creates between Cassie's journey and that of her abandoned lover, Ray.

"The viewer and the main players think that the story is over, but really it's only Cassie that has that knowledge and that understanding of what her husband did. So she's going to have to carry around that burden," he said.

"In a way, it's not dissimilar to what Ray's been going through. Ray has had to carry around this heavy memory of something that happened and has had nobody to sort of share it with, so that's now her ball and chain."

Co-star Bethany Antonia, who plays Kayleigh, revealed that the final scene was actually one of the earliest the crew filmed, meaning by the time they revisited it at the end, she had forgotten the gravity of the reveal.

"For me, it just epitomises the whole show," she told RadioTimes.com . "It's like, you can create a world that looks so calm and peaceful and all the waves have settled, but underneath there's fish swimming about going crazy.

"And that is what the whole show is about: how well can you really know someone? We started the show with one person we knew kind of nothing about, and now we've got three people who are all hiding their own little secrets."

Will Megan and Dave get their happy ending in Stay Close?

This last-minute twist puts the fairytale ending of Megan and Dave in serious jeopardy.

It looks for a moment as if everything will work out for the couple after Dave comes to terms with the past life she had hidden from him for so long and the wedding goes ahead as planned.

But now, Megan is the only one aware of the terrible crime that her husband committed – and if Stay Close has a message to send, it would be that secrets never stay buried forever.

Is this the last we have seen of Megan and Dave?

Will there be a Stay Close season 2?

Sarah Parish in Stay Close

"I think that it will come back to haunt them, but in a long time," Antonia theorises. "It will be Kayleigh's wedding when she's like 35, and then she'll see a yellow car and it will bring back all the memories."

Co-star Armitage agrees that the twist does leave a "tiny little door open" for a potential follow-up, which could begin with Dave finding out that he is an unwitting murderer.

He added: "It's such a brilliant twist and one of the things that I like about it is the fact that you don't really see what he's done. You just know that there was somebody in the boot of that car.

"You don't see him in the car, you don't actually see the thing happen; it's all in the viewer's imagination. And of course, he doesn't know what he's done either, which I think is another brilliant opener for maybe Stay Close 2 – who knows?"

Stay Close is available to stream on Netflix now.

Read our guide to the best series on Netflix , check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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IMAGES

  1. Stay Close By Harlan Coben

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  2. Read Stay Close Online by Harlan Coben

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  3. Stay Close Season 1 Opening on Netflix at December 31, 2021

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  4. Stay Close

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  5. دانلود زیرنویس سریال Stay Close 2021

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  6. Stay Close Soundtrack

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COMMENTS

  1. Summary and reviews of Stay Close by Harlan Coben

    Jack is a detective who can't let go of a cold case - a local husband and father disappeared seventeen years ago, and Jack spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man's family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them.

  2. 'Stay Close' Ending Explained: The Big Change the Netflix ...

    Stay Close is the latest Netflix thriller from Harlan Coben, the writer behind other streaming shows like The Stranger and The Woods - and as viewers of those shows know, the author loves a...

  3. Stay Close by Harlan Coben

    Jack is a detective who can't let go of a cold case—a local husband and father disappeared seventeen years ago, and Jack spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man's family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them.

  4. Stay Close Book Summary By Harlan Coben

    'Stay Close' by Harlan Coben is a suspenseful and mysterious novel set in an ordinary suburban town. The story revolves around three main characters, Megan, Ray, and Broome, who are all intertwined in a web of secrets. The novel explores themes of identity, redemption, and sacrifice, raising questions about truth and morality.

  5. Stay Close: Book vs. TV Series

    Stay Close is a thrilling masterpiece created by Harlan Coben, a renowned author known for his suspenseful and gripping stories. The novel has been adapted into a captivating TV series, bringing the book's intricate plot, fascinating characters, and thrilling atmosphere to life on screen.

  6. Stay Close

    Plot Megan Pierce is a suburban mum living in the fictional suburb of Livingstone, and is hiding a murky past. She has found her soulmate in Dave, and they have three great kids. Ray Levine was once a talented documentary photographer. Losing the woman he loved changed him.

  7. Stay Close

    On Sale Now! USA & UK Harlan Coben follows four consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers with a stand-alone thriller in the vein of his beloved breakout novels Caught and Hold Tight. When the past refuses to stay buried, three people will discover that the American dream can be a nightmare . . . Megan is a suburban

  8. STAY CLOSE

    STAY CLOSE | Kirkus Reviews Reviews FICTION STAY CLOSE by Harlan Coben ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 20, 2012 A proficient but routine thriller in which you can tell for miles in advance who's disposable and who's slated for survival,... bookshelf shop now

  9. Stay Close Summary

    In "Stay Close" by Harlan Coben, readers are taken on a thrilling journey through the lives of three individuals whose paths cross in unexpected ways. With Coben's signature blend of suspense, mystery, and complex characters, this novel keeps readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.

  10. Stay Close by Harlan Coben

    7515 0 Harlan Coben has such a big reputation that expectations are always high when he writes a new book. Stay Close was an eagerly awaited release after his venture into young adult fiction, and here we're firmly back in crime thriller territory.

  11. Harlan Coben's Stay Close Ending Explained

    Features Harlan Coben's Stay Close Ending Explained Still have questions after bingeing Netflix's new Harlan Coben thriller? With major spoilers, we break down who killed who, how, when and why....

  12. 'Stay Close' Ending, Explained

    Stay Close is an 8-part mini-series where a middle-aged woman, Megan Pierce (Cush Jumbo), excitedly prepares for her marriage with a man, Dave Shaw, with whom she has been living for 17 years and has three kids with him.

  13. 'Stay Close' Ending Explained

    What happens in the ending of Harlan Coben's 'Stay Close' on Netflix, and who murders Carlton Flynn? Here's everything you need to know about the ending of 'Stay Close.'

  14. Stay Close review

    F ourteen of author Harlan Coben's 31 novels, we are told, are due to be adapted for Netflix. Your mileage may vary, of course, but as I have a barely satiable appetite for bingeable thrillers ...

  15. Netflix's Stay Close: Cast, plot, and Harlan Coben's book adaptation

    Stay Close is based on Harlan Coben's book of the same name. The Huffington Post says of the book: "Fiction reading doesn't get much better than this.". Fans call it a "stirring thriller", like a "rollercoaster" and promise "a massive twist at the end". Stay Close is adapted by Brassic's Danny Brocklehurst and Prey's ...

  16. Stay Close review

    Summary. Stay Close is paced like a rocket and is littered with the litany of crime cliches that always blight these Harlan Coben adaptations, making for a fine binge-watch as we enter the new year. This review of Stay Close is spoiler-free, though contains some plot setup from the first episode. There's a particularly enthusiastic market for ...

  17. Stay Close ending explained and major spoilers revealed

    To recap, Stewart Green is dead. Lorraine killed him, Guy Tatum, and a bunch of other bad dudes over the years and threw their bodies in a bunker. Ray disposed of Stewart Green's body because he...

  18. Stay Close summary and ending explained

    By Nadeem Abdul | Last Updated: January 9, 2022 Stay Close is a drama mini-series based on the novel of the same name written by Harlan Coben. It follows the story of three individuals whose lives become intertwined with the disappearance of a young man one night. Summary

  19. Stay Close: Coben, Harlan: 9780525952275: Amazon.com: Books

    Stay Close. Hardcover - March 20, 2012. Harlan Coben follows four consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers with a stand-alone thriller in the vein of his beloved breakout novels Caught and Hold Tight. Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side.

  20. Amazon.com: Stay Close: 9780451233967: Coben, Harlan: Books

    Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times and international bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including I Will Find You, The Match, Win, Fool Me Once, Stay Close, and The Stranger, as well as the award-winning Myron Bolitar series. Coben has more than eighty million books in print in more than forty languages worldwide, and several of ...

  21. What is Stay Close about?

    Stay Close synopsis Are you a fan of the brilliant author Harlan Coben? If so, you're probably familiar with his work and know that Stay Close is based on his 2012 book titled the same...

  22. Stay Close Ending, Explained: Who is the Killer?

    Stay Close Recap. Before the happily married life with average Dave, Megan, or Cassie, was a working girl in the strip club Vipers. She left the scene without saying her goodbyes, and now the past seeps back into the present with the sudden reappearance of Stewart Green. The words on the street make her worry that her carefully constructed life ...

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