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Forget Fool Me Once, Harlan Coben's Highest Rated Series is Now on Prime

Forget Fool Me Once, Harlan Coben's Highest Rated Series is Now on Prime
Image credit: Netflix, Prime

All of Coben's trademark twists, with one surprising difference (don't let it turn you off!)


  • Over the last few years, Netflix has been awash with thrillers based on Harlan Coben's bestselling novels.
  • However, his most critically acclaimed series is tucked away on Amazon Prime.
  • This story features all of Coben's plot staples, but features a teenage lead.
  • The series is surprisingly appealing for adult viewers.

American thriller writer Harlan Coben has been on a tear recently – not only continuing to pen his bestselling mystery novels (he's up to 35 now), but also renewing a deal with Netflix that will see even more of his books adapted for the streamer.

You've probably heard of at least some of these series, like last year's hilariously bonkers Fool Me Once and 2020's Polish-language hit The Woods.

Coben has some trademark moves: most of his stories involve wealthy urban professionals, a dark secret from the past, and an elaborate conspiracy that leads to some major twists and turns. Whether these twists are laughable or laudable depends on the story, and the skill with which they are adapted for the screen.

One of the best adaptations out there? A Harlan Coben story that was actually written for teens.

Gimme Shelter

One of Harlan Coben's most popular protagonists is Myron Bolitar, a sports agent whose clients and friends keep turning up dead or missing. Bolitar soon spends most of his time investigating rather than agenting.

In Shelter, Coben introduced Myron's nephew, Mickey. After his mother is checked into rehab, Mickey moves into his estranged uncle Myron's home.

Meanwhile, Mickey's new girlfriend has gone missing, and he decides to follow the family business and investigate.

There are other plot threads, of course – this is a Harlan Coben story, so you know that someone who died is going to end up being alive (or are they?) and that the past will dredge up some unthinkably dark family secret. It's all great fun.

Prime Gets on the Coben Train

Shelter was ordered as a pilot for MGM in 2021, with Prime picking up the series shortly after. The show quietly surpassed most other Coben adaptations in quality, and currently holds an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (compared to Fool Me Once, which debuted on Netflix shortly after and made a much bigger splash – but which carries only a 69%).

The series covers all the major twists and turns of the book: Mickey's father dies in a tragic accident, his mother is sent to rehab, and he's shipped off to live with a relative (though the television show makes it an aunt, rather than a sports-agent uncle). As Mickey investigates the disappearance of this girlfriend, he also meets a creepy old woman who claims that his father is still alive.

Forget Fool Me Once, Harlan Coben's Highest Rated Series is Now on Prime - image 1

What Are Critics Saying?

Reviews for Coben's other television adaptations are mixed, but most – especially the later ones, as the formula became increasingly obvious – were criticized for their absurd twists and gaping plot holes.

It's saying something, therefore, that audiences and critics alike have been warm in their praise of Shelter. Writing for The Australian, reviewer Geordie Gray confessed: 'No self-respecting adult plans to get sucked into a YA-thriller, but it's hard to resist a show as ludicrously twisty and jam-packed with storylines as Shelter.'

Meanwhile, The Guardian said, 'It feels odd to call an adaptation of a Harlan Coben thriller 'charming', but the eight-part Shelter series is just that.'

A Disappointing Twist

There are three books in the Mickey Bolitar series, so fans of the show were hoping that the teenaged investigator might stick around for another few seasons. Unfortunately, Prime has announced that the series will not be renewed for a second season.

Still, Shelter makes a compact and compelling story, covering most of Mickey's story and adding in some juicy new plot threads of its own. Even without a follow-up, this series is worth a watch for fans of thrillers – regardless of your age.