Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Deal Breaker: Harlan Coben

In this first book in the Myron Bolitar series, sports agent Myron Bolitar is about to get a big break when his client Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback, is offered a deal to sign for the Titans football team. Unfortunately for both of them, a tragedy from Christian's past comes back to haunt him. Christian's girlfriend from college has been missing for 18 months; there have been rumors that he is responsible. Now Christian receives a magazine in the mail with a picture of Kathy in it. To complicate things further, the girlfriend, Kathy Culver, is the younger sister of Myron's ex-girlfried, Jessica. The Culver family has recently suffered an additional tragedy; Adam Culver, the girls' father, was killed in a robbery attempt. Myron tries to determine if Kathy is still alive or if this is some malicious hoax.

The book was very readable; it held my interest until the very end. Mainly what I want when I read a mystery novel is to be entertained and enjoy the story. This book provided that. I had expected the book to be closer to a cozy mystery than the fast-paced, suspense-filled novel that it is.

I liked the characters, even though some of them were over the top. Myron works with Esperanza, his business associate, and Windsor Horne Lockwood III (Win), his best friend, who also rents his office space to him. Myron is sort of normal; these other two characters are over the top. Esperanza was formerly a female wrestler. Win is often described as a sociopath. Win and Molitar met first in college, then worked for the FBI as undercover agents. Jessica, Myron's old girlfriend, is featured a lot. Much of the story is told through her viewpoint, as she looks for clues to what has happened to her sister.

I did have some quibbles. Myron has way too much personal involvement in this case. This sort of makes sense in a amateur sleuth novel, but is not my favorite story line. There is a lot of humor, and I think we are not supposed to take it all too seriously, yet the subject matter is serious.

Overall, however, this was a fun read. Will I return to this series? I am almost always interested in checking out more books in a series, if the subject matter or the characters interest me. In this case I do wonder what happens to all the continuing characters, and I imagine that the remaining books will be just compelling to read as the first one. On the other hand, I have plenty of other books on hand to read. So maybe yes, maybe no. I would love to hear if others have loved or hated this series, or even felt neutral about it.

Harlan Coben wrote seven Myron Bolitar novels, and then wrote a very successful standalone novel, Tell No One. At that point, he wrote four more standalone novels before returning to the Bolitar series in 2006. Since that time he has gone back and forth between the series and standalone novels. In 2011, he started a series for young adults starring Mickey Bolitar, Myron's nephew.

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Publisher:   Delacorte Press, 2006 (orig. publ. 1995)
Length:       339 pages
Format:      Hardcover
Series:       Myron Bolitar, #1
Setting:      US
Genre:       Mystery
Source:      I purchased this book.

26 comments:

  1. TracyK: As someone who loves sports and has written a sports column for almost 40 years I should read this series. Then I look around at the TBR boxes and piles. "Sigh".

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    1. Bill, this one did not concentrate on sports so much, but definitely set in the sports world (and college). The hero played basketball, but was injured, and the author also played basketball in college, so I think he has the background.

      I do understand about the TBR piles though.

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  2. I read this one years ago and liked it, I ought to get back to his books. My wife is a fan.

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    1. Col: Does she like the Bolitar books or the standalone books or both? I will be trying one of the standalone books too.

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    2. Standalone really, but she has enjoyed a couple of the Mickey Bolitar books. She hasn't yet tried Myron.

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    3. When Coben comes up, I can't resist recommending the excellent French thriller, "Tell No One" from his book.

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    4. Col, the Mickey Bolitar books sound good to me too, but I will try to read more from the Myron Bolitar series first.

      I agree with Glen on "Tell No One"... it is a film we have watched several times.

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Tracy. The first books in the series really are solid mysteries, and Bolitar is a good character. In fact, I need to do a spotlight on one of Coben's novels sometime soon.

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    1. I agree, Margot, one of Coben's books would be a good candidate for a spotlight.

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  4. I have never read this author though i have a couple of books on the shelf. i think i'll read a stand-alone first and then start on any series.

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    1. The standalone books are very popular, neer. I have always been leery of them because I think the subject matter is too tense for me. But I definitely want to try at least a couple of them.

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  5. I read all the Myron Bolitar books and often howled with laughter. Couldn't help myself. Myron and his mom and dad. SO funny. But I stopped reading Harlan Coben when he went the 'standalone' route. For whatever reason I'm not a fan of Coben's standalones at all. Too much dramatic family angst. I truly do believe he was at the forefront of the current 'The Girl on the Train' (or whatever you call those books with similar titles and similar stories) craze. I could be wrong of course.

    BUT - I LOVED Myron and crazy Win. I know, I know, Win is a psycho, but hey, he's devoted to Myron and truly, these days, who wouldn't want a psycho friend to reply on when things get tough.

    The books, by the way, feature different sports as the series goes on. But not so much that if you don't know about the sport you can't follow the book. Sports is just the background.

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    1. I thought I remembered that you had liked the Bolitar series but not the standalone books. Which I can understand. We really like the film version of Tell No One so I am determined to read that book and I will try another standalone just to see.

      I should be able to find more of the Bolitar books at the book sale so I will continue those too.

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  6. And I have done so far is click pictures of boxes of Harlan Coben novels at Books by Weight.

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    1. I hope I can find boxes of Harlan Coben books at the book sale in September, Prashant.

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  7. "Myron is sort of normal." That speaks volumes. You have a knack for understatement, Tracy. BTW, check your email when you have a chance. I have a question for you.

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    1. Thanks, Mathew. I did check my mail and respond and hope my answer was of some use.

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  8. I remember I was always tempted by this series when they were new, but didn't read any - but have read several of the standalones. Compelling but not convincing is how I would describe them, though like everyone else I like the film of Tell No-one. That scene with him running through the streets because he's remembered! I guess I should try this series.

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    1. I think overall I will like the Myron Bolitar series better than the standalone books, Moira, but hope to try both. There should be a supply of them at the book sale. The big name authors always have at least one box of books. And this was a quick and satisfying read compared to some books.

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  9. I read my first Myron Bolitar novel two summers ago, and then had to start at the beginning and do the whole series. When Harlan's last installment "Home" came out after a bit of a hiatus, I rushed to read that one also and was not disappointed. Coben keeps the twists coming better than anyone else I have read.

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    1. I have been tempted to find the next Myron Bolitar right away, Susanne, but I have a huge number of books to read on my TBR. But I do want to return to the series for sure.

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  10. i liked a few of Coben's stand-alones until I read one that smacked of anti-Muslim stereotypes. That was the last one.

    I tried one Bolitar books and didn't like it and also I thought Win was very sexist.

    Yes, I have standards, but that's how it goes. My tolerance for certain attitudes is zero.

    But I loved the film of "Tell No One," have seen it twice. But when I saw it the first time with a neighbor, I guessed a key part of the plot -- and it was because of having read so many mysteries. Certain plot devices pop up that are familiar.

    I hear there is another film out of one of his books. I must find that.

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    1. I will have to pay more attention to the next Bolitar book I read, Kathy. I do remember being surprised that I was enjoying the book but I did.

      I do understand why anti-Muslim stereotypes would bother you. I am going to try Tell No One first, then maybe try another standalone book. Depends on what turns up.

      I haven't heard about another movie based on one of Coben's books, so if you find it, let me know.

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  11. Well, if you have Netflix streaming you can watch "No Second Chance," based on Coben's writing.

    I read that Julia Roberts commissioned a script for another of his books. I don't think that's out yet. But do google searches for Harlan Coben films and keep looking.

    And at this point in time after last year's campaign and then the election, any book or movie with bigotry or sexism is going to send me running for the hills.

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    1. We do have Netflix streaming and I will be adding No Second Chance to the list. Thanks for pointing that out.

      These are tense times we live in. Reading is my best antidote, although we do watch a lot of movies and older TV shows.

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  12. Harlan Coben I realized years ago wasn't for me. He is wildly popular. I did start reading this one but never did finish it. --K.

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