First there was Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, and now Sky 1 just keep the good drama coming with new ten-part drama, Harlan Coben’s The Five.
For those of you not familiar with international best-selling thriller writer Harlan Coben, he has over 60 million books in print worldwide, in 43 languages around the globe. His last eight consecutive novels all debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list and have been number one bestsellers in over a dozen countries.
The Five isn’t a Harlan Coben novel that was turned into a TV series, it’s an idea which Harlan first thought of as a novel, but he felt the story was too visual for a novel so he simply had to see it on the screen, which is where he sought the help of one of my favourite television writers, Danny Brockelhurst (Ordinary Lies, Shameless).
Together, they have assembled an outstanding array of British acting talent, including Lee Ingleby (The A Word), Sarah Solemani (Him & Her), Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey) and O-T Fagbenle (Looking).
Not to mention Geraldine James (Black Work) Hannah Arterton (Atlantis), Honeysuckle Weeks (Foyle’s War) and Michael Maloney (River) who all also star in the series.
The series opens with a flashback. Twelve-year-old Jesse is crying, telling his older brother Mark and his friends, Pru, Danny and Slade “I don’t want to go”.
Not wanting to be bothered by his younger brother Mark simply tells him “Just go home, you know the way. You’ll be fine, trust me. Just go!” and with a “See you later” Jesse is off, wondering through the woods on his own. What Mark and his friends didn’t know, was that that would be the last time they ever saw Jesse.
We then fast forward twenty years and Mark, Pru, Danny and Slade have all moved on with their own lives.
Mark (Tom Cullen) is an inner city legal aid lawyer and blames himself for Jesse’s disappearance, Slade (Lee Ingleby) runs a city shelter that houses runaways and victims of domestic violence and remains to this day very close friends with Mark.
Pru (Sarah Solemani) moved to America when she was 19 after her parents divorced, to live with her mother. Now a doctor, Pru has been back in the UK for two years and lives with her husband Stuart, and their young daughter.
But she hasn’t told any of her closest friends that she’s back, and when she is reunited with Mark, Danny and Slade after 16 years, we begin to see why. It seems Pru might be suppressing her feelings for Mark, and when cracks begin to show in her marriage she finds a dangerous way to cope.
Danny (O-T Fagbenle), has become a detective, following in his father’s footsteps, and when Jesse’s DNA is found at a murder scene, twenty years after he was last seen, the lives of Mark, Pru, Danny and Slade to be turned upside down as they desperately search to solve the unsolved mystery from their past.
When Danny decides to tell Mark, Mark takes this as a second chance to make things right, even questioning the man who admitted to Jesse’s murder. Then there’s Danny's father, having led the original investigation into Jesse’s disappearance, Danny tells his father that Jesse is back and doesn’t quite get the response he was hoping for.
Someone’s hiding something... but who? And what? Could Jesse really still be alive? Why has he chosen to return now? Has he anything to do with the murder? So many questions, and thankfully ten episodes to answer them, and I’m assure that by the end of episode ten there is a sense of closure, so there’s definitely that to look forward to.
Harlan Coben has done what he does best and has created a compelling thriller that constantly leaves you wanting more. If you’ve ever read any of his books, you’ll know that at the end of each chapter he loves to chuck in a cliffhanger, and the same is true at the end of each episode of The Five.
If you’re anything like me, when you pick up a Harlan Coben novel, you just can’t put it down, and when it comes to The Five, you just can’t stop watching. I was sent two episodes to preview and as soon as the first episode ended, I wasted no time in watching the second, and if I had been sent more, I would have kept on going.
Binge-watching television is such a trend at the moment and it’s said that on average you know if you’re going to stick with a series after two episodes. And sure enough, by the time I finished watching the second episode of The Five, I was hooked. Hooked on the story and invested in the characters, I had/still have, a real urge to know what really happened to Jesse and was certain that this was a series I would see through to the end.
Unfortunately, all ten episodes won’t all be able to watch at once, but Sky have offered us a happy compromise. Rather than spreading the series across 10 weeks, the series will be shown across five weeks, with two episodes airing back-to-back every Friday night.