Harlan Coben’s The Five, Sky1

The Five Episode 01 Danny (O-T Fagbenle). Ben Blackall 2015 for © RED PRODUCTION COMPANY LIMITED

One of The Five – Danny (O-T Fagbenle)

Twists galore await in this original Harlan Coben thriller from Sky1

★★★½ Sky1, Friday, 15 April, 9pm

HARLAN COBEN is highly rated as one of the best thriller novelists around today. A lot of my colleagues at crime-fiction site Shotsmag can’t wait for his latest book.

His award-winning mysteries often involve secrets from the past resurfacing and multiple twists. Perhaps best known of his books is Tell No One, which was turned into the 2006 French film Ne le dis à personne.

The Five Episode 01 Mark (Tom Cullen) hugs Pru (Sarah Solemani), Slade (Lee Ingleby) and Danny (O-T Fagbenle) look on. Ben Blackall 2015 for © RED PRODUCTION COMPANY LIMITED

Reunited – Mark hugs Pru as Slade and Danny look on

The surprising thing is that more of his multi-million-selling books have not had screen makeovers. There have been occasional reports that books such as Gone for Good were being worked on by the likes of NBC, but little has surfaced to date.

An original thriller from Harlan Coben

Which makes Sky1’s new series all the more exciting for Coben fans and thriller devotees. The Five is based on an idea Coben had planned to turn into a novel, but instead the author worked with top scriptwriter Danny Brocklehurst (The Driver, Accused, Shameless) to give Sky1 an exclusive and fresh 10-part thriller.

The premise is based on a tragedy from the childhoods of four friends. When they were 12 years old, Mark, Pru, Danny and Slade abandoned Mark’s five-year-old brother, Jesse, in the woods. The lad was never seen again.

In adulthood, Danny, now a detective, gets involved in a murder case. At the scene of the crime, Jesse’s DNA is found. So, is he still alive? If so, is he a murderer?

The Five Slade (Lee Ingleby), Mark (Tom Cullen, Pru (Sarah Solemani), & Danny (O-T Fagbenle), ©Justing Downing for Sky Living

Shadows from the past – Slade, Mark, Pru and Danny

Mark Cullen, O-T Fagbenle, Lee Ingleby, Sarah Solemani

The tempo is slick and the drama’s look is brisk and exciting. The interplay between the friends – played by Mark Cullen, O-T Fagbenle, Lee Ingleby and Sarah Solemani – is intriguing. Mark and Pru were boyfriend and girlfriend once upon a time, but after many years without seeing each other, when they reunite over Danny’s DNA discovery there seems a little unfinished business between them.

Danny, who has a challenging home life with his ailing father, behaves unprofessionally by involving his old mates in the case. Meanwhile, Slade, who runs a city shelter for runaways, is a man of action with a habit of occasionally going missing.

And, of course, there are twists aplenty, including a real zinger at the end of episode one. The drawback with tales that pander to a thirst for shock moments is that they can make nonsense of the characters, who have to perform all kinds of somersaults by the denouement. For me, that level of  stretched plausibility can detract from the novels.

However, Sky1 has certainly done justice to the unsettling world of Coben. There will be few viewers who are not gasping to see what happens next at the end of each instalment.

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