Tell No One

Tell No One

by Harlan Coben

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“Harlan Coben is the modern master of the hook-and-twist.”—Dan Brown

For Dr. David Beck, the loss was shattering. And every day for the past eight years, he has relived the horror of what happened. The gleaming lake. The pale moonlight. The piercing screams. The night his wife was taken. The last night he saw her alive. 

Everyone tells him it’s time to move on, to forget the past once and for all. But for David Beck, there can be no closure. A message has appeared on his computer, a phrase only he and his dead wife know. Suddenly Beck is taunted with the impossible—that somewhere, somehow, his wife is alive . . . and he’s been warned to tell no one.

Praise for Tell No One

“A thriller of runaway tension . . . masterful suspense and explosive twists of fate.”—Iris Johansen

“A compelling and original suspense thriller.”Los Angeles Times

“Nonstop action with plot twists galore.”—Phillip Margolin

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440245902
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/25/2009
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 31,261
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

With more than seventy million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including the Myron Bolitar series and a series aimed at young adults featuring Myron's nephew, Mickey Bolitar. His books are published in forty-three languages around the globe and have been number one bestsellers in more than a dozen countries. The winner of the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony Awards, he lives in New Jersey.


Ridgewood, New Jersey

Date of Birth:

January 4, 1962

Place of Birth:

Newark, New Jersey


B.A. in political science, Amherst College, 1984

Read an Excerpt

Eight Years Later

Another girl was about to break my heart.

She had brown eyes and kinky hair and a toothy smile. She also had braces and was fourteen years old and--

"Are you pregnant?" I asked.

"Yeah, Dr. Beck."

I managed not to close my eyes. This was not the first time I'd seen a pregnant teen. Not even the first time today. I've been a pediatrician at this Washington Heights clinic since I finished my residency at nearby Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center five years ago. We serve a Medicaid (read: poor) population with general family health care, including obstetrics, internal medicine, and, of course, pediatrics. Many people believe this makes me a bleeding-heart do-gooder. It doesn't. I like being a pediatrician. I don't particularly like doing it out in the suburbs with soccer moms and manicured dads and, well, people like me.

"What do you plan on doing?" I asked.

"Me and Terrell. We're real happy, Dr. Beck."

"How old is Terrell?"


She looked up at me, happy and smiling. Again I managed not to close my eyes.

The thing that always surprises me -- always -- is that most of these pregnancies are not accidental. These babies want to have babies. No one gets that. They talk about birth control and abstinence and that's all fine and good, but the truth is, their cool friends are having babies and their friends are getting all kinds of attention and so, hey, Terrell, why not us?

"He loves me," this fourteen-year-old told me.

"Have you told your mother?"

"Not yet." She squirmed and looked almost all her fourteen years. "I was hoping you could tell her with me."

I nodded. "Sure."

I've learned not to judge. I listen. I empathize. When I was a resident, I would lecture. I would look down from on high and bestow upon patients the knowledge of how self-destructive their behavior was. But on a cold Manhattan afternoon, a weary seventeen-year-old girl who was having her third kid with a third father looked me straight in the eye and spoke an indisputable truth: "You don't know my life."

It shut me up. So I listen now. I stopped playing Benevolent White Man and became a better doctor. I will give this fourteen-year-old and her baby the absolute best care possible. I won't tell her that Terrell will never stay, that she's just cut her future off at the pass, that if she is like most of the patients here, she'll be in a similar state with at least two more men before she turns twenty.

Think about it too much and you'll go nuts.

We spoke for a while -- or, at least, she spoke and I listened. The examining room, which doubled as my office, was about the size of a prison cell (not that I know this from firsthand experience) and painted an institutional green, like the color of a bathroom in an elementary school. An eye chart, the one where you point in the directions the Es are facing, hung on the back of the door. Faded Disney decals spotted one wall while another was covered with a giant food pyramid poster. My fourteen-year-old patient sat on an examining table with a roll of sanitary paper we pulled down fresh for each kid. For some reason, the way the paper rolled out reminded me of wrapping a sandwich at the Carnegie Deli.

The radiator heat was beyond stifling, but you needed that in a place where kids were frequently getting undressed. I wore my customary pediatrician garb: blue jeans, Chuck Taylor Cons, a button-down oxford, and a bright Save the Children tie that screamed 1994. I didn't wear the white coat. I think it scares the kids.

My fourteen-year-old -- yes, I couldn't get past her age -- was a really good kid. Funny thing is, they all are. I referred her to an obstetrician I liked. Then I spoke to her mother. Nothing new or surprising. As I said, I do this almost every day. We hugged when she left. Over her shoulder, her mother and I exchanged a glance. Approximately twenty-five moms take their children to see me each day; at the end of the week, I can count on one hand how many are married.

Like I said, I don't judge. But I do observe.

After they left, I started jotting notes in the girl's chart. I flipped back a few pages. I'd been following her since I was a resident. That meant she started with me when she was eight years old. I looked at her growth chart. I remembered her as an eight-year-old, and then I thought about what she'd just looked like. She hadn't changed much. I finally closed my eyes and rubbed them.

Homer Simpson interrupted me by shouting, "The mail! The mail is here! Oooo!"

I opened my eyes and turned toward the monitor. This was Homer Simpson as in the TV show The Simpsons. Someone had replaced the computer's droning "You've got mail" with this Homer audio wave. I liked it. I liked it a lot.

I was about to check my email when the intercom's squawking stopped my hand. Wanda, a receptionist, said, "You're, uh, hmm, you're, uh ... Shauna is on the phone."

I understood the confusion. I thanked her and hit the blinking button. "Hello, sweetums."

"Never mind," she said. "I'm here."

Shauna hung up her cellular. I stood and walked down the corridor as Shauna made her entrance from the street. Shauna stalks into a room as though it offends her. She was a plus-size model, one of the few known by one name. Shauna. Like Cher or Fabio. She stood six one and weighed one hundred ninety pounds. She was, as you might expect, a head-turner, and all heads in the waiting room obliged.

Shauna did not bother stopping at Reception and Reception knew better than to try to stop her. She pulled open the door and greeted me with the words "Lunch. Now."

"I told you. I'm going to be busy."

"Put on a coat," she said. "It's cold out."

"Look, I'm fine. The anniversary isn't until tomorrow anyway."

"You're buying."

I hesitated and she knew she had me.

"Come on, Beck, it'll be fun. Like in college. Remember how we used to go out and scope hot babes together?"

"I never scoped hot babes."

"Oh, right, that was me. Go get your coat."

On the way back to my office, one of the mothers gave me a big smile and pulled me aside. "She's even more beautiful in person," she whispered.

"Eh," I said.

"Are you and she..." The mother made a together motion with her hands.

"No, she's already involved with someone," I said.

"Really? Who?"

"My sister."

We ate at a crummy Chinese restaurant with a Chinese waiter who spoke only Spanish. Shauna, dressed impeccably in a blue suit with a neckline that plunged like Black Monday, frowned. "Moo shu pork in a tortilla shell?"

"Be adventurous," I said.

We met our first day of college. Someone in the registrar's office had screwed up and thought her name was Shaun, and we thus ended up roommates. We were all set to report the mistake when we started chatting. She bought me a beer. I started to like her. A few hours later, we decided to give it a go because our real roommates might be assholes.

I went to Amherst College, an exclusive small-Ivy institution in western Massachusetts, and if there is a preppier place on the planet, I don't know it. Elizabeth, our high school valedictorian, chose Yale. We could have gone to the same college, but we discussed it and decided that this would be yet another excellent test for our relationship. Again, we were doing the mature thing. The result? We missed each other like mad. The separation deepened our commitment and gave our love a new distance-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder dimension.

Nauseating, I know.

Between bites, Shauna asked, "Can you baby-sit Mark tonight?"

Mark was my five-year-old nephew. Sometime during our senior year, Shauna started dating my older sister, Linda. They had a commitment ceremony seven years ago. Mark was the by-product of, well, their love, with a little help from artificial insemination. Linda carried him to term and Shauna adopted him. Being somewhat old-fashioned, they wanted their son to have a male role model in his life. Enter me.

Next to what I see at work, we're talking Ozzie and Harriet.

"No prob," I said. "I want to see the new Disney film anyway."

"The new Disney chick is a babe and a half," Shauna said. "Their hottest since Pocahontas."

"Good to know," I said. "So where are you and Linda going?"

"Beats the hell out of me. Now that lesbians are chic, our social calendar is ridiculous. I almost long for the days when we hid in closets."

I ordered a beer. Probably shouldn't have, but one wouldn't hurt.

Shauna ordered one too. "So you broke up with what's-her-name," she said.


"Right. Nice name, by the way. She have a sister named Whiskey?"

"We only went out twice."

"Good. She was a skinny witch. Besides, I got someone perfect for you."

"No, thanks," I said.

"She's got a killer bod."

"Don't set me up, Shauna. Please."

"Why not?"

"Remember the last time you set me up?"

"With Cassandra."


"So what was wrong with her?"

"For one thing, she was a lesbian."

"Christ, Beck, you're such a bigot."

Her cell phone rang. She leaned back and answered it, but her eyes never left my face. She barked something and flipped the mouthpiece up. "I have to go," she said.

I signaled for the check.

"You're coming over tomorrow night," she pronounced.

I feigned a gasp. "The lesbians have no plans?"

"I don't. Your sister does. She's going stag to the big Brandon Scope formal."

"You're not going with her?"


"Why not?"

"We don't want to leave Mark without us two nights in a row. Linda has to go. She's running the trust now. Me, I'm taking the night off. So come over tomorrow night, okay? I'll order in, we'll watch videos with Mark."

Tomorrow was the anniversary. Had Elizabeth lived, we'd be scratching our twenty-first line in that tree. Strange as this might sound, tomorrow would not be a particularly hard day for me. For anniversaries or holidays or Elizabeth's birthday, I get so geared up that I usually handle them with no problems. It's the "regular" days that are hard. When I flip with the remote and stumble across a classic episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Cheers. When I walk through a bookstore and see a new title by Alice Hoffman or Anne Tyler. When I listen to the O'Jays or the Four Tops or Nina Simone. Regular stuff.

"I told Elizabeth's mother I'd stop by," I said.

"Ah, Beck..." She was about to argue but caught herself. "How about after?"

"Sure," I said.

Shauna grabbed my arm. "You're disappearing again, Beck."

I didn't reply.

"I love you, you know. I mean, if you had any sort of sexual appeal whatsoever, I probably would have gone for you instead of your sister."

"I'm flattered," I said. "Really."

"Don't shut me out. If you shut me out, you shut everyone out. Talk to me, okay?"

"Okay," I said. But I can't.

I almost erased the email.

I get so much junk email, spam, bulk emails, you know the drill, I've become quite handy with the delete button. I read the sender's address first. If it's someone I know or from the hospital, fine. If not, I enthusiastically click the delete button.

I sat at my desk and checked the afternoon schedule. Chock-full, which was no surprise. I spun around in my chair and readied my delete finger. One email only. The one that made Homer shriek before. I did the quick scan, and my eyes got snagged on the first two letters of the subject.

What the--?

The way the window screen was formatted, all I could see were those two letters and the sender's email address. The address was unfamiliar to me. A bunch of numbers

I narrowed my eyes and hit the right scroll button. The subject appeared a character at a time. With each click, my pulse raced a bit more. My breathing grew funny. I kept my finger on the scroll button and waited.

When I was done, when all the letters showed themselves, I read the subject again and when I did, I felt a deep, hard thud in my heart.

Customer Reviews

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Tell No One 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 430 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Harlan Coben's "Tell No One" is a thrilling story that keeps tension high and anticipation even higher. After Dr. David Beck's wife was murdered, he was devistated. Eight years later, new evidence is found and new secrets are exposed that lead him to believe she might not be dead after all. That sure is the way it sounds from the strange emails he recieves that contain information only his beloved Elizabeth would know. Suspence is definately not lacking as the twists and turns become more suprising and more original the farther into the novel you get. Coben's style of writing tends to get confusing at times because of his use of perspective and time. He jumps abruptly from setting to setting and from different people's point of view. This strategy could be looked at as confusing, or helpful to the intensity and suspence, as i thought it did. This novel shows how unconditional and everlasting love can truely be, how evil the effects of fate can be, and that the impossible is always probable. I would, without a doubt, reccommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good thrill and a truely original story. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw this, read the back cover and was intrigued. So I bought the ebook later that afternoon, and finished reading it in record time. This was my first book by Mr. Coben, but will definitely not be the last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down. Great twists.
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Review by Jessica: Wow! I loved this book! A page turner for sure. David Beck and his wife Elizabeth have known each other since they were eight years old. They've been together ever since. As they head to Lake Charmaine, they sit in the car both desperately wanting to come clean with secrets. Neither can make the first step towards lifting the weight of their own secret before tragedy strikes. Elizabeth is grabbed, tortured, and later found of the side of the road dead. David survives that night although he can't remember anything after he gets hit in the head and falls into the lake. Eight years later, David still hasn't properly grieved over the loss of his wife, but now two bodies buried near the lake are found and little by little David, the police, the FBI put together clues of what really happened that fateful night. OMG... I couldn't wait to find out what happened. I so wish I could tell you what happens, but I really really really don't want to spoil the thrill of the ride. I'll give you a hint though... is Elizabeth truly dead? If not, whose body was found. If you love Harlan Coben's books, or if you love suspense thrillers... PLEASE check this one out. And leave a comment... I would LOVE to hear what you think... NO SPOILERS please!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i loved this book! it was very suspenseful with a twist of humor. i recomend this book to people who like mysteries , humor , and suspense. it kept me staying up all night flipping the pages like crazy! this book is great for any book club , exept for the fact you might skip ahead. and rainy days are perfect! to escape into this charectors life is amazing! have fun reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Flawless. Couldn't put it down. Grabs you from the beginning and never let's go.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intruiging from the start...very hard to put down. Multiple unexpected twists and developments from start to finish. Great read for anyone looking to get into fast paced mysteries.
VJDJR More than 1 year ago
Disappointing. IIt's rare that I say this: The film (2006, directed by  Guillaume Canet) was better than the book. I was mostly jarred by the book's switchbacks between 1st-person and 3rd person points of view within the same chapter. This was especially problematic in the ebook because if the switch took place upon a page change, there was no obvious spacing or any other clue to set you up. It's a great premise for a book, but I believe the movie did a better job of keeping my pulse racing and not letting me dare to look away.
natthecarrot_xx More than 1 year ago
In Harlan Coben’s Tell No One, David Beck’s wife Elizabeth Parker, also his childhood love, was kidnapped and assumed dead eight years ago. Dr. Beck, now a respected doctor living in a big city, has rebuilt his life around the tragic event. However, since the tragedy he’d never been the same, never genuinely happy again. It is the day of the anniversary of his and his dead wife’s first kiss, trying to push the thought of her away, he receives an anonymous e-mail with information only him and his wife know. It shocks him and gives him a glimmer of hope that his beloved Elizabeth may still be alive. After receiving several more similar anonymous e-mails, Beck starts investigating on what really happened to his wife that night. His sudden interest in his dead wife arouses investigators, which leads them to think Dr. Beck was more than the husband of a murder victim. Beck proves them wrong with the help of one of his patients fathers who is a successful drug dealer. The truth about Elizabeth Parker’s disappearance is revealed in a page-turning story. Every time you turn the page you are scared to see what happens yet filled with adrenaline. This book makes you think and use your brain by making you keep track of all the characters and important events. It makes you solve the crime along with the narrator by putting the pieces together like a puzzle. Even with putting the pieces together, I would have never seen the end coming. Overall this story made me want to take more interest in mystery books and I would very much recommend it to any reader!
Sheila67 More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed Tell No One and couldn't put it down until I finished it. This book kept me guessing until the very end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read it for the third time since 2009 and it still had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Coben is great at putting the right amount of suspense in the story. It remains my favorite book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just started reading this author and definitely wont stop. Keeps you on the edge of your seat and you cant put it down. I definitely recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Hard to put down! So many twists! If you like mystery you'd love this book!
MauiLover3 More than 1 year ago
My first Harlan Coben book and what a winner!!! I'm hooked!!! Could not put this one down:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
His novels are definitely page turners, but this one had such a bad ending it ruined everything else I liked about the story. Can't go into detail about what I disliked without spoiling the ending, but just wonder if this book actually had an editor.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous 7 months ago
Looking forward for the next book. They are always a good read.
Anonymous 9 months ago
kswanteck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a mystery, leaving the reader at the edge of his seat for the entire book. It is about a man who thought his wife was dead for many years, until one day he saw her on a live video stream. I think this is a good starter book for unwilling readers. It is so interesting and engaging that I would love to see what someone who says they don't like to read would do with it.
woka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i could not put this book down, a story of great twits and turns that leaves you thirsting for more
silenceiseverything on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tell No One is one of those edge-of-your-seat thrillers that make you want to ignore all of your responsibilities i.e. children, chores, work, etc., etc., just so you can keep on reading. Seriously, I did not want to put this book down. It's a little less than 400 pages, but they really flew by. And that's really how I like my mysteries. I don't want them to drag, I want to care about the characters, and I want a plot and resolution that's not too simple yet not too complex. 2 out of 3 ain't bad. I guess the reason I gave Tell No One three stars instead of four is because of the plot twists. Now, don't get me wrong, I like plot twists as much as the next mystery-thriller fan. It's way better than a great sounding plot that has you guessing the killer in about fifty pages [glares at The Vanishing of Katharina Linden]. However, there is such a thing as too much. When the first plot twist came up, I was like "Whoa!". When the next one came it went "Intrigue!". Then, they just kept popping up in a span of fifty pages, which were the last ones, and then I was like "Don't think too much about it otherwise you'll find tons of little plot holes that would blow that theory to the water..." This book would've been a bit better if one of those "plot twists" had gone unexplored. I'm not picky to one in particular. But after a while it becomes a bit mind-bending (and not in that good way). So, again, I liked Tell No One. It flew by for me and I really was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I also really loved the characters and thought Beck was a really great, sympathetic, hero. However, too many plot twists really made this a "suspend belief just for a couple of seconds" type of book. But like I mentioned at the beginning, 2 out of 3 really isn't that bad.
caitemaire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eight years ago, Dr. David Beck seemed to have it all. Most of all, the love of his life, his wife Elizabeth. They had know each other since they were children and at the age of 12 had shared their first kiss and carved their initials in a tree at the lake front summer camp of David's grandfather. Every year since, they returned to that tree for their "kiss time" anniversary. Or they had until that night eight years ago, when they were attacked at the lake, David knocked unconscious and Elizabeth dragged away to her death at the hands of a serial killer, KillRoy.Or was she?On the anniversary of her murder, David receives an e-mail, making a reference to something only he and Elizabeth would understand. But how could it be? Her body was found, her killer is in jail. Is this some horrible joke? Is he going mad, wishing to believe something that is impossible or could, somehow, Elizabeth possibly be alive. He is warned to tell no one. Can he trust anyone to help him find the truth? The police, the FBI, his best friend since college, Shauna...will asking for their help put Elizabeth in more danger if she is alive and what price is David willing to pay to find out the truth of what happen that night.This is the first one of Coben's books that I have read and a fine introduction to his work it is. It is a well written, fast paced thriller with enough action and twists and turns to keep you interested from the first page to the satisfying conclusion. And he also treats us to a good cast of characters to accompany us on the journey, characters that are never one dimension. There are good cops and bad, fine upstanding citizens that may have some very nasty secrets and even our "hero" David may have a few skeletons of his own that he would rather keep unknown. But the price of truth may have a very high cost that will play out until the very last page.Overall, a satisfying, entertaining thriller that will certainly have me checking out some others of Mr. Coben books. Tell No One is a stand alone mystery but I am also anxious to check out his Myron Bolitar series, for which he is perhaps best known.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Harlan Coben is the author of an excellent mystery series featuring a likable sports agent, Myron Bolitar. But in recent years, he¿s written a number of stand-alone novels, and Tell No One is one of them.The protagonist, Dave Beck, is a pediatrician who works in a clinic for low-income people. Eight years ago, his wife was murdered; Beck was at the scene but was knocked out before he could help Elizabeth. Beck has never forgotten and never gotten over Elizabeth; they had been childhood sweethearts since second grade. Like many couples, they had their secret rituals. On the anniversary of their first kiss, Beck gets a disturbing email message that leads him to believe that Elizabeth may still be alive. That¿s all he needs to become completely obsessed with finding her. But while doing so, he will become the prime suspect in Elizabeth¿s murder and powerful forces will try to stop him.The plot is good, with some very nice twists and turns, but the writing is so-so, which is too bad. Coben really knows how to pace a mystery, and his characterizations are good. But this book lacks the easy style and even grace of the Bolitar series; it¿s stiff. Still, it¿s a good read.
Emilything on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I recently read this book for a book club that I participate in. It is a quick read that had me turning pages late into the night. Dr. David Beck has been trying to rebuild his life since the tragic murder of his wife, Elizabeth. Suddenly one day Dr. Beck gets a mysterious email that contains secrets shared only with his wife. How could anyone but his wife know those intimate details of their relationship? Author, Harlan Coben hooks you from the first page and keeps the pages turning until the shocking ending. It was fun to discuss all the plot details with the other members of my book club. There is also a French movie based off this book. It doesn't come close to the level of suspense that the book does. If you are looking for a good thriller, suspense, or mystery read, Tell No One is certainly a fun read.
Kingray on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent plot right from the beginning to the suprise ending