Harlan Coben won me over back in the ’90s with Myron Bolitar, the wisecracking pro basketball player-turned-agent-slash-solver-of-mysteries. Like all good protagonists, Bolitar has the quirky best friend, but in his case, the best friend is a rich blueblood with a way with the women and somewhat sociopathic tendencies. Coben’s debut novel won a Mystery Writers of America Edgar award.
His new book, Live Wire, is getting good reviews and for good reason… it’s vintage Bolitar made super-current with a plot that includes drugs, sex, and rock-and-roll. Plus Facebook. Add an unhealthy helping of family angst and the tension rockets.
Bolitar’s still agenting, repping both rock star Lex Ryder and former tennis pro Suzze T. Someone’s threatening Suzze via FB and Myron’s investigation opens a door into the past that many would just as soon leave closed. Suzze and Kitty – Myron’s sister-in-law – were frenemies years ago, competing on the tennis pro circuit. Myron hasn’t seen Kitty or his brother Brad in 16 years – nor met his nephew, 15-year-old Mickey.
Nothing adds urgency like family members in danger and a sense of regret for past transgressions, so Myron and Win are soon driven to untangle a mystery that spans 15 years, numerous celebrities, the world of the super-rich and of the mob-connected.
Coben does a good job of balancing wry humor, edgy violence, and family angst in Live Wire. On the downside: there’s little for his usual sidekicks to do and the plot requires a pretty big suspension of disbelief. And as Woody Allen said, self-referentially in Stardust Memories, “I prefer his early, funny movies.” That goes for Coben’s Bolitar series, too.
Lots of changes coming… Live Wire, in many ways, is a set-up for a new series. And maybe it’s time.
We’re expecting new and different things, as nephew Mickey becomes a part of the story and a wedding’s in the offing, the agency is sold and Win’s laying low. I understand his next book is a YA thriller featuring nephew Mickey, called Shelter. You can read a preview here. I’m looking forward to seeing how Coben shakes it up!