Saturday, January 26, 2013

Harlan Coben: Deal Breaker

OK, so Coben was on my to-read list for so long that more and more books of his were coming out and I had more and more trouble to decide which one to start with, where to pick up. And in which direction to follow. Worse yet, when I asked a friend (a great Coben fan) to recommend which book I should start with, she said: "You just wait, I'll bring them all to you." Indeed she did but she offered no help in which order I should read them. "I only brought the best ones," she said. True enough, there were only six there. "The rest come in the next package." Basically, I was on my own. With a pile of crime novels.
So I decided to approach this as I usually approach things. Start where it seems to make the most sense. Hence the first novel in the series. Sports agent turns detective. Eek. Not my cup of tea, I tell you. I only squeeze through sports news when absolutely necessary and I actually KNEW one Myron and yes, they do look (and act) just the way you would expect them to.
First I want to start off by admitting that my first meeting with Coben was through watching Tell No One years ago and not knowing it was his story. I also remember that everybody was crazy about the movie while it got a mild "meh" out of me. Even then I was thinking that the book must be so much better.
So Myron Bolitar, take #1.
It seems Myron Bolitar, the great sports agent, has landed a big fish in Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback. Interestingly enough if Coben knew what this kid's name and surname would mean in six years, he'd probably change the poor rookie's name. Myron has plenty of his own demons to battle when Christian calls him to tell him he received something in the mail from a former girlfriend. No big deal, right? It would be, if the girl wasn't practically dead. I say practically because technically she's only been missing. Then a phone call happens where she speaks to him and things begin to unravel. In a bunch of twisted lies, tragic consequences, shocking secrets and more lies it seems to be impossible to figure out who murdered Kathy (who happens to be the sister of Myron's obviously never forgotten former girlfriend Jessica). Myron is squeaky clean so he has to have a sidekick, who is basically his alter-ego and does everything mean that Myron wants to but doesn't because he has a conscience. Win Lockwood III will kick and beat up those that try to (and do) attack Myron and tackle him on his jog to the truth.
Myron Bolitar is also a wisecrack. The kind of wisecrack who actually needs a sidekick keeping an eye on him. Seems he can get beaten up pretty easily despite the fact that he is a former sportsman, ex-fed and probably retired swordsman, lion tamer and kickboxer. And interestingly enough every woman he meets is drop dead gorgeous with legs up to her eyeballs and smelling like daisies. That's okay, boys need something to make them read books too, right? :)
The whole story is of course like any good crime story. Full of twists and turns and unexpected (and a few expected) revelations. I give it **** because it did what I so often miss in crime/thriller/mystery/murder books. It kept me hanging till the end. And when it ended, it didn't need another fifty pages or so to explain everything and to bring people back to their normal lives, restore peace and keep it like that. It took him a few pages. It's a fantastic ride because Coben knows how to put hooks that make you NOT want to put the book down. You don't feel any smarter or more enlightened after finishing it but it sure as hell fires up your brain and makes for an entertaining few days. Because that's how much it will take (in a long run) for you to finish this book.

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