Coben was born into a Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey, and was raised in Livingston, where he graduated from Livingston High School, with his childhood friend and future politician Chris Christie. While studying political science at Amherst College, he was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity with the writer Dan Brown.
After Amherst, Coben worked in the travel industry, in a company owned by his grandfather.
Coben was in his senior year at college when he realized he wanted to write. His first book was accepted for publication when he was twenty-six. His thriller Play Dead was published in 1990, followed by Miracle Cure in 1991. He then began writing a series of thrillers featuring former basketball player turned sports agent Myron Bolitar, who often finds himself investigating murders involving his clients.
Coben has won an Edgar Award, a Shamus Award and an Anthony Award. He is the first writer to have received all three. He is also the first writer in more than a decade to be invited to write fiction for the New York Times op-ed page. He wrote a short story, "The Key to My Father," which appeared on June 15, 2003.
Tell No One, his first stand-alone thriller since the creation of the Myron Bolitar series in 1995, was published in 2001. It is his best-selling novel to date. Director Guillaume Canet made a French-language film based on the book, titled Ne le dis à personne, in 2006. Coben followed Tell No One with nine more stand-alone novels. His novel Hold Tight, released on April 15, 2008, was his first book to debut at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Coben's most recent novel, Home, was published on September 20th, 2016.
Coben lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben, a pediatrician, and their four children, Charlotte, Benjamin, Will, and Eve.
Coben won the 1996 Anthony Award in the category "Best Paperback Original", for Deal Breaker, the first volume of the Myron Bolitar series; it was also nominated for an Edgar Award in the same category. Fade Away won the 1997 Shamus Award and the Edgar Award for "Best Paperback Original", was nominated for the Anthony Award and the Barry Award in the same category, and was nominated for a Dilys Award. The following Myron Bolitar novel, Back Spin, won the 1998 Barry Award and was nominated for the Dilys Award and the Shamus Award. In 2002, Tell No One was nominated for the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, the Edgar Award and the Barry Award. In 2010, Live Wire won the world's most lucrative crime fiction award, the RBA International Prize for Crime Writing, worth €125,000.