A ‘Stranger’ At the Library

When a book gets adapted, I look the title up at the Winnipeg Public Library site to see if it’s available or its current status. If the book title involves Richard Armitage, double or triple that curiosity. I took a peek at Heads You Win by Jeffrey Archer, a sliding-doors-esque novel with 37 copies and now down to 3 holds. Look like the hotness factor has worn off.  However, I did a silent ‘whoop’ Overdrive now has the audiobook available. Winnipeggers can enjoy that baritone going through its paces as the story evolves, although, with Archer’s writing, it develops slowly.

While picking up a hold at my branch, I did my usual browsing and found myself doing a short cut through the mystery section. I stopped short as my eyes spotted a shocking blue hue:


These must be the four out of seven copies available out the 11 in total. Another tidbit I found out, after scratching my head seeing a Charleswood (CHAS) copy at my branch, mysteries float rather than return to their home branch. Currently, there’s one hold as opposed the 33 for his latest book, Run Away. Is it the calm before the storm? The Netflix limited series starring Richard Armitage, Hannah John-Kamen (Antman and the Wasp, Killjoys), Siobhan Finneran (Downtown Abbey, Happy Valley), and Jennifer Sauders (French and Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous). If it’s anything like the Sandra-Bullock fronted Birdbox, a bump on requests might happen. I am not an expert in these things, more like armchair library prognosticator.

So, Fatima, goes the peanut gallery, have you read it? Indeed I have dear reader and, holy Dinah, I want more from this author, and this comes from a (generally) non-mystery reader. The novel’s adaptation to Netflix makes a natural fit as I tore through the book in a week. I imagined the 8 part series itself easily bingeable, like a bag of Lindt’s chocolate balls. (A small bag. Speaking from experience.) While libraries always excelled in giving recommendations, sometimes media, like a Netflix adaptation, makes readers want to read the New Jersey-set novel.

While there’s a mystery at the centre of the novel, it’s really about what people keep hidden in their lives. Suburbs always prove a hotbed for intrigue with well-kept lawns and large homes. Within these settings comes this clock-work routine of work, get the kids, and have family take-out dinners on occasions. Some may think it’s an only-in-America thing, but Harlen Coben remarked he loves seeing how other countries adapt his novels for television. Much like Charlaine Harris, whose Sookie Stackhouse novels inspired True Blood, he looks at writing a book and writing for the screen as two different mediums:

Surprisingly, not much. Both mediums are storytelling, but there are huge differences, one being that film and television both revolve around visual storytelling, while my books mainly take place in people’s heads. Another huge difference is that one medium is collaborative and one is done completely alone. For me, the two different kinds of writing spur on one another. I’m naturally an introvert, and when you write 31 novels, you spend a lot of time alone in a room. But I’m a socially adept introvert, so I do like being out in the world, too. So I was just in Manchester watching a table read for my new show, The Stranger, on Netflix. So I’m there and I’m meeting the cast and the crew, it’s a lot of energy and I’m loving it, but as soon as I get back home, I say, “I’ve got to go crawl into a room and be by myself for a while.” So they kind of both feed the other.

Inevitably, library people, especially public library staff, will hear the following refrain, ‘The book was better.’ The book is the book, television is television, and the latter medium inspires the next title on the to-read pile or the hold list.


9 thoughts on “A ‘Stranger’ At the Library

  1. Fatima, I did an Armitage with the book, I found out I did not remember that much about the details except the ending.,. I can picture Richard as Adam Price no problem. The character was shapeless and emotionless enough I thought that Richard would have a field day making it his own. I look forward to bingeing The Stranger on Netflix. Coben seems to have an ongoing central theme in his books. The only other one I read was Dropshot from 1996 and there was sooo much brand name dropping in it I felt like I needed a nice comfort shower afterward.. his writing seems to have gotten better.
    I did not know really anything about Coben so thank you for this delightful post,. He is a whiz at marketing though and hopefully Richard will also promo the miniseries extensively…
    all in all I agree a great fit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s been upfront about his evolution as a writer and after reading The Stranger, I want to read more of him. Good call on picturing him as Adam Price. Anotehr tidbit: Stephen King nameda character in The Outsiders after him.


  2. I agree that books and movies or TV are different animals. It’s okay to have differences, because of length etc. But when you love a book and they change the essential nature of it, it can be really disappointing. I really loved the character in Confessions of a Shopaholic, but the movie just made her seem weak and silly and needing to be rescued by a man. The How to Train Your Dragon book series was about tiny dragons, but in the movie they were large enough to ride. On the other hand, The Shining was a great adaptation. I liked the English language adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It all depends how it’s handled.

    TV series are a little easier, maybe, because you have a longer time to develop the story and characters. I haven’t read The Stranger, yet. I think I’ll wait for the series.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ahh nice. I will have to see what my library has on Coben books. I like that he is an introvert b/c I would have never thought so. I am also glad he is so proud of these miniseries from Safe last year to The Five which was pretty good to now The Stranger. This will benefit Coben just as much to get more books adapted as it will Richard to finally open more acting doors..

    Liked by 1 person

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