Can We Talk About Harlen Coben’s The Stranger Now?

The Relateable Handsomeness of Richard Armitage

A couple of reviews mentioned Armitage’s performance as well-done even though he seemed too good looking to be a dad. I shook my head after remembering the dads with teens, my age, and the young ones with toddlers or infants at my local Stella’s as they ate breakfast or dinner. I live in the land of professional men, Adam Prices running at the local run club, or doing errands on the way home from work at Superstore. Sometimes the eyes catch my attention, the hair, or the shape of their face. Sometimes their faces say ‘cute’ but have this spark, making them look extraordinary.

Then I remember they’re married and pick up the milk.

I also remember none of them are Richard Armitage.

Adam’s clothes and hair chart the progression of the story as the put-together look in reds and blues gives way to browns and greens, his hair looking messier on the way to the final scene. Adam’s walk also goes from the confident strut of a lawyer to a burdened step to know what happened to his wife. There are lots of good-looking actors but very few with the self-awareness about the body Armitage possesses in a scene. (You can take the dancer out of the dance…) There are also few actors who keep in mind his body as an actor would look different from a body as a dad of two with a routine built around his life.

I noticed the softness in places once sculpted for physical roles, can you say Francis Dollarhyde? However, and I said this before, his ‘dad bod’ would give some dads pause before heading to the local Goodlife. Then again, he would fit in with the River Heights dads, the ones I note before getting the milk and going home. ‘Relatable handsomeness’ popped into my head as my fingers madly tapped away at the keyboard. It feels like an epiphany really, relating to why I like him.

His eyes can menace or ponder or twinkle with mischief, reminding me of the way I notice the different shades of sky blue on sunny days, depending on the temperature. It’s a face and limbs made for expression, to tell stories in words or in those in-between moments in a scene. It’s the face a camera loves and a face that can blend into the surroundings under a baseball cap. It’s a face always looking for insight and still curious. Berlin Station tried to take Richard Armitage and shoehorn him into a US-style leading man, ‘The Stranger’ enabled him to take his strengths help us go with Adam Price on a journey he had no idea he would end up taking, a hobbit in a t-shirt. It’s the strength of the book and definitely the strength of this series.

In the End

Harlan Coben writes thrillers, and the plots keep the readers guessing what will happen next. However, they talk about families, the dark underpinnings of suburban neighbourhoods, the way people maintaining the dream creates nightmares of everyone else. The series and the book involve secrets, about a world without them or whether they need unmasking at all. Adam didn’t have to stay nor did he have to look for Corrine at all. He did anyway, perhaps not out of duty or may it was to other people. Sometimes I find myself agreeing with ‘The Stranger’ about stripping away secrets and being transparent. Then again, I think back to Brene Brown talking about needing boundaries in our authenticity. Sometimes we can’t reveal our whole selves to just about everyone.

Sometimes a good book or bingeable series simply takes us out of our lives on a wild ride, letting us hit pause on the chaos of everyday life.

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