Fool Me Once: full series episode guide, release date, cast, plot, interviews, trailer and all about the Harlan Coben thriller

Fool Me Once on Netflix stars Joanna Lumley and Michelle Keegan as a grieving wife with a puzzling mystery to solve.
Fool Me Once on Netflix stars Joanna Lumley and Michelle Keegan as a grieving wife with a puzzling mystery to solve. (Image credit: Netflix)

Fool Me Once follows previous adaptations of Harlan Coben’s gripping novels Stay Close, The Stranger and Safe, all of which have been huge hits as Netflix thrillers. 

Richard Armitage, who starred in The Stranger and Stay Close, has a role in Fool Me Once too, this time playing Joe Burkett, a husband who seemingly comes back from the dead. 

Former Coronation Street and Our Girl star Michelle Keegan heads up the cast, however, playing Joe’s wife Maya Stern, who's struggled to move on since his murder. But her life changes dramatically when it turns out that Joe might not be dead after all. Fool Me Once also stars BAFTA-winners Adeel Akhtar and Joanna Lumley.

Harlan Coben says: "Fool Me Once is a pulse-pounder — a shocking story of how secrets and deceit have the power to bring people together while simultaneously tearing them apart."

So here’s everything you need to know about Fool Me Once on Netflix…

Fool Me Once star Michelle Keegan as Maya.

Fool Me Once star Michelle Keegan as Maya. (Image credit: Netflix)

Fool Me Once release date

Fool Me Once is an eight-part series that launched worldwide on Netflix on Monday January 1, 2024, aka New Year's Day.

Fool Me Once poster.

Fool Me Once poster. (Image credit: Netflix)

Is there a trailer for Fool Me Once?

Yes a trailer for Fool Me Once has been released by Netflix which you can take a look at below. It's mega intense, just as we've come to expect from a Harlan Coben mystery...

Fool Me Once plot

In Fool Me Once, Maya Stern (Michelle Keegan) is a widow trying to come to terms with the brutal murder of her husband, Joe (Richard Armitage). She installs a nanny-cam to keep an eye on her young daughter but is shocked when she sees a man she recognizes in her house — the husband she thought was dead. 

Detective sergeant Sami Kierce (Adeel Akhtar) is leading the investigation into Joe’s death but has secrets of his own, while Maya’s niece and nephew are trying to uncover the truth about their mother’s murder several months earlier. As we learn whether the two cases are connected, the characters embark on a thrilling hunt for the truth. 

Michelle Keegan as Maya with a mother in law from hell, played by Joanna Lumley.

Michelle Keegan as Maya with her mother in law from hell, played by Joanna Lumley. (Image credit: Netflix)

It's far from happy families in Fool Me Once.

It's far from happy families for Maya and Joe in Fool Me Once. (Image credit: Netflix)

Fool Me Once cast — Michelle Keegan interview on playing Maya Stern

Michelle Keegan plays grieving wife Maya in Fool Me Once. Michelle told us: "I was such a massive fan of Harlan Coben and to get this role is like a dream come true. I'm still not over it. I feel really lucky and very honoured.

"Maya is from Manchester like me and she's left the army for a reason. We find out the beginning of the show the reason why. She’s a helicopter pilot and she has been doing it since she left school. But  something happened on the last tour that led to her leaving the army. That’s why she has PTSD. All the military advisers I spoke to about PTSD back in my Our Girl days said that it’s very hard when you’ve been in the army to come home and get back into civilian life. I feel that’s Maya. She never felt she fitted in anywhere whether she was at home or in her marriage. The only place that she has fitted in was probably the military. 

"Her husband was brutally murdered in front of her. Then her friend Eva gives her a 'Nanny Cam' to help her look after her daughter while she's away. And one night she watches on the nanny cam and she sees her dead husband with her daughter! She sees her husband alive and well on the Nanny Cam.

"Maya is from more of a working-class background than Joe, whereas Joe and his family have this stately home. Maya first meets Joe at a charity gala where she is wearing her military fatigues, and he is in a tux. I think she was drawn to the fact that Joe was such a gentleman. 

"It was wonderful to have Joanna Lumley play Maya's mother in law. She's so funny. Honestly, she's hilarious. She had all the crew laughing all the time. But she's so professional and lovely to be around. I just gravitated towards a straightaway. She makes you feel really comfortable. She's actually a legend. She really is.

"Working with Richard Armitage was amazing, too. I was a big fan of of him in Stay Close and The Stranger so it was great. And I've loved working in my home city of Manchester. It's great being back home. I can go to my mum's for dinner.

"I hope viewers enjoy all the twists and turns. Nothing is how it seems in this story. People will come to their own conclusions, but their conclusions will probably be wrong. That’s what I loved about the show and about the book. I was always second guessing why Maya did that or what happened, and my guesses were always wrong. It was always something bigger and better than that. Never second guess anything. You are definitely going to be shocked!"

* Michelle Keegan has previously played Tina McIntyre in Coronation Street before going on to star as Sergeant Georgie Lane in Our Girl. She’s also had roles in Ordinary Lies, Plebs, Tina and Bobby and Brassic.

Fool Me Once star Michelle Keegan as a grieving wife with a puzzling mystery to solve.

Fool Me Once star Michelle Keegan as Maya. (Image credit: Netflix)

Michelle Keegan as Georgie Lane in Our Girl.

Michelle Keegan as Sgt Georgie Lane in Our Girl. (Image credit: BBC)

Richard Armitage interview on playing Joe Burkett

Richard Armitage, who plays Maya's husband Joe, says: "When you’ve read a few Harlan Coben’s you know that he plants things deep in the ground that you excavate through the story. Sometimes literally like in The Stranger where it was an actual excavation of a body. With this I recognised that I was kind of stepping into the role that Dervla Kirwan played in The Stranger, which is the presence of somebody being very strong in the story. Just not knowing where they are or what happened to them. The first time I read the big WTF moment in the book I stopped reading and had to track back. I was like, ‘Wait a second!'

"It’s interesting that the eldest brother, Joe, who has a lot of the power is the apple of the mother’s eye. The other siblings sort of move around him. We were so lucky to have our cast. Hattie Morahan and I played a husband and wife in Alice Through the Looking Glass so that was great to be reunited. I looked at Hattie, James Northcote and I and believed that we could be siblings. Then there is the dead brother that I never met while I was filming. I could also buy that I was Joanna Lumley’s son. You must believe that family in order to make this story work. I buy the intensity of blood relations between these characters. There was something slightly overstepping the line with the mother figure. We never find it in the story but there was a single moment in the wedding sequence with Joanna, a look and a smile and a slight wince from Judith that her boy is marrying this woman. It’s tiny but it said everything. Those little nuanced moments were very useful for me.

"Joe’s a master magician in a way. His method, his modus operandi of seducing somebody is charm and somehow managing to be a little bit vulnerable around Maya. There are little montage moments we have which are very much about him making her laugh a bit. Michelle and I used our relationship from the first time we met. She is very easy to like and she’s very easy to make laugh, so we used that a little bit as an ingredient. But then Joe is smiling with one side of his face and behind his back he has got a dagger in his hand really."

He loved playing opposite Joanna Lumely as Judith: "There is all that gravity that she brings. The fact that her character is a psychiatrist as well. A sort of light authoritarianism. There is this wealth of knowledge, a wealth of experience. As a person she sort of speaks on this very seductive whisper. That is so perfect. I said to the costume designer, ‘Is there a way we could have something which just suggests there is a little synchronicity between them?’ We went with shoes. At one point we are both in these loafers. There had to be something that connects the two of them. I did think of Joanna a lot with Joe’s delivery. A slight aloof elegance I tried to find in Joe’s delivery that I think he would have inherited from her."

* Richard Armitage starred in the previous Harlan Coben adaptations Stay Close and The Stranger. He played Lucas North in the BBC One series Spooks and has starred in The Hobbit movies, Strike Back, Robin Hood, Hannibal and Berlin Station. He’s also starred in Ocean’s Eight, Brain on Fire, Alice Through the Looking Glass and Captain America: The First Avenger

Richard Armitage as 'supposedly murdered' Joe Burkett.

Richard Armitage as 'supposedly murdered' Joe Burkett in Fool Me Once (Image credit: Netflix)

'Stay Close' on Netflix stars Richard Armitage.

Richard Armitage in the previous Harlan Coben Netflix drama Stay Close. (Image credit: Netflix)

Adeel Akhtar interview on playing DS Sami Kierce

Adeel Akhatr plays a cop with secrets of his own. He says: "Initially Maya has called the police because her husband Joe has been shot in the park. It looks like a run-of-the-mill mugging, but I think he has been a detective long enough not to take anything on face value. He is quite mistrusting of Maya initially, but he is mistrusting of most people.

"I think Sami is just mistrusting of everyone. Even though Judith presents herself as this quite upper-class, well-spoken, louche character he has been a detective long enough to understand that there is always a subtext behind what is presented to him. His general understanding of most of the characters in Fool Me Once is to approach them with caution. 

"It was really nice to have some scenes with Joanna Lumley. Our paths had crossed once when we were onstage when I won a BAFTA, and she won a BAFTA. We mentioned that in passing and had a lovely chat in the makeup truck. She is such a lovely woman.

"There is a bridge scene with Sami that seemed a little bit overwhelming, but I tried not to think about it too much. When I got there, I just tried to act and react to what was going on in the reality of that situation. There were a couple of moments like that. It was just heightened emotion – somebody at the edge of their own sanity. It can be a little bit overwhelming to think how that will play out. I suppose the idea is not to think about it and just be there and see what happens."

* Adeel Akhatr won a BAFTA for the drama Murdered By My Father and has also starred in Les Miserables, Four Lions, Enola Holmes, Killing Eve and Ali and Ava. He played Mohammed in Victoria & Abdul and had roles in Unforgotten, The Nest, The Night Manager and Sherwood. 

Adeel Akhtar as DS Sami Kierce.

Adeel Akhtar in Fool Me Once as DS Sami Kierce. (Image credit: Netflix)

Adeel Akhtar as Inspector Lestrade.

Adeel Akhtar as Inspector Lestrade in Netflix movie Enola Holmes. (Image credit: Netflix)

Joanna Lumley interview on playing Judith Burkett 

Absolutely Fabulous icon Joanna Lumley is playing Judith Burkett, Joe’s overprotective and grieving mother. 

Joanna Lumley says: "I was sent Harlan Coben’s Fool Me Once and read it and I realised at once that we were looking at a master storyteller. There are so many jinks and kinks and turns. It makes the Formula One circuit look like a straight road. It’s fantastic. Then they sent me his I Will Find You, which I just devoured. Utterly, utterly gripping. I’ve got such admiration for him. 

"The Fool Me Once premise of starting with a funeral makes it oh my Lord what’s happening now? And then you are caught up in a nightmare conundrum, which I can’t reveal. But you are immediately going what the hell’s happened? I think that’s brilliant. Whether people eat it all in great big mouthfuls and stuff it all down – all eight episodes in one go – or if they eke it out, I think it’s going to have huge rewards. It’s the beauty of the filming and the production but also the brilliance of Harlan Coben. My God, he sure knows how to tell a tale. 

"Judith doesn’t think Maya is good enough. That’s the trouble. She thinks she’s common. Judith is a terrific snob. Judith thinks that Maya is not good enough for her handsome, lovely son. The fact that Maya is extremely capable and is an armed service woman and extremely beautiful none of this means anything to Judith. She just thinks she’s not good enough for the family. She quite admires Maya. She quite likes her. She gets on ok with her, but she thinks she’s common."

"Judith thinks her daughter Caroline is a drip. Judith measures Caroline against herself. Caroline is a bit of a daydreamer, very gullible, a little bit fey. That’s all the things that Judith isn’t. She is sort of exasperated because Judith admires strength and leadership. Her son Joe, she adored. Andrew, long dead. We never really get to understand Andrew except that he was quite a gentle boy. I think she would have doted on him. She protected him a bit. She felt he was the one that needed protecting. Joe didn’t need protecting because he was exactly everything she adored. And then Neil, her youngest, she just thought he was useless. Again, she was harsh about him. He drank too much. He ought to have done better. He ought to have been like his eldest brother Joe. She measures everybody against Joe." 

Judith has been a psychiatrist for 40 years. "I think it’s fascinating," says Joanna. "I’ve never been to a psychiatrist, but I am so interested in all sorts of workings of the mind. I think Maya sees Judith as a bit of a threat and is quite often accusing her of trying to use her as a puppet and using tricks on her, which Judith of course denies. And she can deny it. She doesn’t try to trick her. Our show doesn’t show Judith doing any psychiatric work, so I didn’t have to follow that through much. 

* Joanna Lumley best known for her turn as Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous but has numerous roles to her name, including Felicity in the series Motherland. Joanna has starred in Finding Alice, Coronation Street, The New Avengers, Sapphire & Steel, Jam & Jerusalem, Mistresses and The Sandman

Joanna Lumley as Maya's mother in law Judith Burkett in Fool Me Once.

Joanna Lumley as Maya's mother in law Judith Burkett in Fool Me Once. (Image credit: Netflix)


Joanna Lumley as Patsy Stone (on right) in Absolutely Fabulous with Jennifer Saunders. (Image credit: BBC / AA archive / Alamy)

Who else is starring in Fool Me Once?

Other stars of Fool Me Once include former Hollyoaks and Peaky Blinders actor Emmett J Scanlan who's playing Shane Tessier who is Maya's former platoon mate and now in the military police. He gave up combat piloting when Maya left the military as he wanted to be closer to home. After Joe’s death, Shane is Maya and Lily’s rock. So, when Maya tells him she thinks there’s more to Joe’s death than meets the eye, Shane uses his knowledge and access to help her.  

Dino Fetscher (Years and Years) is Marty McGregor, a young, bright, and ambitious detective. When Marty is partnered with DS Sami Kierce on the Burkett homicide case, he wants to do a good, thorough job. He looks up to Kierce and wants to impress him, but Kierce is frustrated by his presence and reluctant to warm to him.

Laurie Kynaston (A Small Light) plays Corey Rudzinkski, aka Corey The Whistle. He runs an online whistleblowing organisation which strives to uncover and expose wrongdoing and corruption worldwide. His mission often requires him to use underhand methods which can devastate people's lives. As a result, Corey frequently creates enemies for himself and must live a secretive, undercover life. 

Marcus Garvey is playing Maya’s brother-in-law Eddie Walker, Hattie Morahan plays Joe's sister Caroline Burkett, James Northcote plays Joe's brother Neil Burkett and Dänya Griver is playing Eddie and Claire’s smart, inquisitive, and confident daughter Abby Walker. Daniel Burt plays Daniel Walker who is Abby’s younger brother. He is smart, quick thinking and a bit of a tech whizz.

Jade Anouka plays Nicole while Adelle Leonce, Natalia Kostrzewa, and Laura Gibbons round out the cast. 

Emmett J Scanlan who's playing Shane Tessier.

Emmett J Scanlan as Shane Tessier with Maya. (Image credit: Netflix)

Laurie Kynaston as Corey Rudzinkski, known as Corey The Whistle, as he helps Maya.

Laurie Kynaston as Corey Rudzinkski, known as Corey The Whistle, as he helps Maya. (Image credit: Netflix)

Fool Me Once episode guide (with a few spoilers)

Here's a brief episode guide to Fool Me Once. There are a few spoilers, especially iin the recaps on the links, so please do look away if you're worried...

Episode 1 
Maya’s (Michelle Keegan) life is turned upside down when she sees her dead husband Joe with their daughter on her nanny-cam. While investigating Joe’s (Richard Armitage) murder, DS Kierce (Adeel Akhtar) has an inexplicable blackout. Maya looks for answers and clashes with mother-in-law Judith (Joanna Lumley), the powerful matriarch of the Burkett family. 
Fool Me Once episode 1 recap: Is that really Joe on the nanny cam?

Episode 2 
Joe’s death is the second loss Maya has suffered in the past year, after her beloved sister Claire (Natalie Anderson) was killed in a home invasion just four months ago. Maya’s search for answers about Claire’s, death leads her to a mysterious videogame arcade. But someone is tailing her. Judith and the rest of Joe’s family are left baffled after an unexpected hitch at his will reading. Meanwhile, could Kierce’s (Adeel Akhtar) unexplained health issues ruin his career and relationship? 
Fool Me Once episode 2 recap: Why are the Burketts paying DS Sami Kierce?

Episode 3 
Maya is confronted with the man who ruined her life, but how does Joe (Richard Armitage) fit into this? Kierce finally seeks medical help for his blackouts. Meanwhile, Maya’s niece and nephew, Abby (Danya Griver) and Daniel’s (Daniel Burt) discovery leads them to a strange man from their mother’s (Natalie Anderson) past. But can he be trusted? 
Fool Me Once episode 3 recap: who is in Maya's house?

Episode 4 
A new lead sees Maya investigating Tommy Dark. Could Joe’s brother, Andrew Burkett’s (Edward Harper-Jones) suicide 26 years ago somehow be connected to Claire (Natalie Anderson) and Joe’s deaths? Coach Phil (Craig Els) seems to be covering for someone and Kierce takes matters into his own hands to find out why, but a sudden blackout puts him in a perilous situation. 
Fool Me Once episode 4 recap: why is Shane tracking Maya?

Episode 5 
There are some shocking discoveries for Abby as she finds out what her mum was doing the day before she was murdered. Maya learns of another tragic death 26 years ago and Kierce’s receives his test results. Can he finally tell his fiancé, Molly (Clara Indrani) the truth, or will this push him over the edge?
Fool Me Once episode 5 recap: what happened to Tommy Dark?

Episode 6 
Desperate for answers, Maya searches for an old classmate of Joe’s (Richard Armitage). Kierce, still grappling with his illness, tries to muster the courage to tell Molly (Clara Indrani) the truth. Things take a turn in the investigation when new evidence suggests that Maya may have lied. Can Kierce keep giving her second chances?
Fool Me Once episode 6 recap: Is Joe really a cold-blooded killer?

Episode 7 
Maya is shaken by the terrible truth about Joe’s past. A revelation from Corey has unexpected personal implications for Kierce and old grief resurfaces in a heart-wrenching conversation with Nicole. With the walls closing in on both Maya and Kierce, will the truth finally come out? 
Fool Me Once episode 7 recap: Who killed Joe Burkett?

Episode 8 
The pieces of the puzzle fall into place, and we must question everything we know. What really happened on the night of Joe’s murder? Kierce is a man on a mission, but can he count on Marty’s help? In a shattering confrontation between Maya and the Burkett’s, all cards are laid on the table. 
Fool Me Once ending explained: what happens to Maya in episode 8?

Behind the scenes, locations and more on Fool Me Once

Filming on Fool Me Once happened in Manchester and the North-West of England in 2022 and 2023. The co-writer with Harlan Coben is Danny Brocklehurst), while executive producers are Nicola Shindler and Richard Fee for Quay Street Productions. 

“I’m thrilled and honoured to once again be collaborating with my uber-talented partners Danny (writer Danny Brocklehurst), Nicola (executive producer Nicola Shindler) and Richard (executive producer Richard Fee),” says Harlan Coben, who is also an executive producer on the series. “Fool Me Once will be our fourth Netflix series together, and man, it never gets old!"

* More top shows and series from Netflix available now or quite soon are below...

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.