Netflix's first must-watch show of 2024 has arrived — don't miss this new Harlan Coben thriller

(L-R) Joanna Lumley as Judith Burkett and Michelle Keegan as Maya Stern in Fool Me Once on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix and American crime fiction author Harlan Coben have become quite the bedfellows over the past half a decade. The streamer has released a string of thriller series based on the writer’s best-selling works, and the latest collaboration between the two is already been heralded as Netflix’s first must-binge-watch show of 2024. 

Fool Me Once is based on the 2016 novel of the same name, and like many of Coben’s works has a highly compelling core premise. The show switches the setting from the United States to the United Kingdom and sees Michelle Keegan play Maya, a woman reeling from the murder of her husband, Joe. But her world is upended when she spots her supposedly deceased husband on a secret nanny camera. 

Meanwhile, Maya’s niece and nephew, Abby (Danya Griver) and Daniel (Daniel Burt), are haunted by the murder of their mother, and as Detective Sami Kierce (Adeel Akhtar) pieces the clues together evidence suggests the cases could be connected. 

The eight-episode thriller series also stars Richard Armitage — a real Coben veteran having also featured in 2020’s The Stranger and 2022’s Stay Close — Jade Anouka, Marcus Garvey, Dino Fetscher and British national treasure Joanna Lumley.  

Fool Me Once landed on Netflix on New Year’s Day and it’s already made a splash leaping straight into the streamer’s top 10 most-watched list. It currently ranks in the number two spot, second only to Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special, The Dreamer. 

Fool Me Once reviews — here’s what the critics think 

Reviews for Fool Me Once have been slowly trickling out over the last few days, and the Netflix show currently holds a respectable 71% score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. However, this score comes from less than a dozen reviews, so it could fluctuate significantly as more write-ups are posted in the days ahead. 

Hamish Macbain of the London Evening Standard notes that the show isn’t likely to stick long in the memory but that it “pushes all the usual buttons to great effect." The reviewer also praised the performance of Joanna Lumley, which is a common theme even in the more lukewarm reviews. In fact, some critics have argued that Lumley steals the entire series.

The Daily Telegraph’s Ed Power says the “plot moves like a slinky on steroids” and calls Fool Me Once a “post-Christmas thriller to cherish.” Meanwhile, Joel Keller of Decider says it “has enough potential for some intriguing plot twists, and more than enough solid performances, to make up for some awkward dialogue and plot points that feel like they’re going to unnecessarily complicate things.” 

A more negative review comes from Nick Hilton at the Independent who writes that Fool Me Once is “TV that has the capacity to shock you -- not because the plot is shocking, but because you’re shocked it’s still on.” 

Fool Me Once is Netflix’s first bingeable show of 2024 

Like the previous Netflix shows based on Harlan Coben novels, Fool Me Once is far from sophisticated TV, and it’s highly unlikely to be a Netflix series we’re still talking about in a few months time. Nevertheless, it’s a slick and twisting thriller that will have you piecing together the clues and trying to guess what will happen next right up until the finale. 

If you’re looking for an easy-watching show as you settle into the groove of a new year, then Fool Me Once fits the bill nicely. It doesn’t shake up the formula that Netflix has established when adapting Coben’s books, but seeing as these collaborations have been highly successful over the years that’s not really a great surprise. If you want something new to watch on Netflix this week, then Fool Me Once should keep you plenty entertained.

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team. 

  • Fox Tread3
    My compliments to Mr. Mellon on a balanced review of "Fool me Once". I appreciate it very much that he has included reviews from various publications. It's nice to have differing opinions. Unfortunately, I think that Rotten Tomatoes is no longer a reliable review source. Many have gotten the feeling that Rotten Tomatoes is pretty much a "cheer leader" for the entertainment industry. I don't know if I'll attempt to watch "Fool Me.." but at least Mr. Mellon has prepared me for both the positives and negatives of the series. Well done Sir. (y) (y) :giggle: