Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mini-review of “Deal Breaker” by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben has created a series of novels that feature a cast of characters spearheaded by Myron Bolitar. I am trying to make my way through all of the extant Bolitar books. With each book I read, I feel like I am attending a college reunion watching the class clowns continue to cavort and entertain. Even if the stories that Coben writes were not as interesting and well-crafted as they are, I would probably read them for the sake of the witty repartee that ricochets like verbal sniper bullets among the regulars in the series. Let me describe the core of the team of protagonists, antagonists and hangers-on:

Myron Bolitar – Jerry McGuire meets Wally Szczerbiak. Top Boston Celtics’ pick in the NBA draft, Bolitar’s athletic career ended suddenly with a knee injury in training camp his rookie year. He did a stint as a mysterious government agent, earned a law degree from Harvard and then turned to being a sports agent and amateur detective and do-gooder. He has a knack for interjecting himself into the most labyrinthine entanglements imaginable.

Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) – Myron’s best friend, roommate at Duke and perpetual sidekick. A Harvard MBA grad, he handles the financial side of Myron’s sports agent business on the side while running the family business – a hugely profitable investment firm with palatial headquarters on Park Avenue. Windsor hides a Bruce Lee-like mastery of martial arts beneath the serene and polished exterior of Jay Gatsby. “Windsor Horne Lockwood III, however, looked exactly like his name. Blond hair, perfect length, parted on the right side. His features were classical patrician, almost too handsome, like something crafted in porcelain.”

Esperanza Diaz – Bolitar’s “girl Friday,” Della Street and Erin Brokavich – all rolled into one. She is a former professional wrestler, known on the circuit as “Little Pocahontas,” and knows her way around the mean streets of New York and northern New Jersey.

Aaron – The “goon”, enforcer, muscle for Roy O’Connor, a ruthless and rival sports agent. O’Connor and Bolitar often run afoul of each other, and Aaron is usually sent to straighten out Myron. He plays Bluto to Bolitar’s Popeye!

Jessica Culver – Myron’s love interest. She is a gorgeous, famous published author who keeps waltzing in and out of Myron’s life. Esperanza, protective of Myron, hates Jessica!

Here is a small sampling of the sometimes sophomoric and totally addictive repartee that is characteristic of Myron and Win playing a wise-cracking game of “Good Cop – Bad Cop” with a suspect in the disappearance of a high school girl:

“Now, we can discuss this with you or with the school board. Up to you.”

Gary glanced at his watch. “You have two minutes.”

“Fine.” Myron gestured to the right. “Why don’t we step into the teachers’ lavatory? I assume you have a key.”


He opened the door. Myron had always wanted to see a teachers’ bathroom, see how the other half lives. It was unremarkable in every way.

“Okay, you have me here,” Gary said. “What do you want?”

“Tell me about this ad.”

Gary swallowed. His enlarged Adam’s apple bobbed up and down like a boxer’s head avoiding jabs. “I don’t know anything about it.”

Myron and Win exchanged a glance.

“Can I stick his head in a toilet?” Win asked.

Gary straightened his back. “If you are trying to frighten me, it won’t work.”

Win’s voice is semi-pleading. “One quick dunk?”

“Not yet.” Myron turned his attention back to Gary. (Page 114)

The story line of “Deal Breaker” involves the disappearance of the girlfriend of a star quarterback who has just been drafted by the Jets. Bolitar is Christian Steele’s agent, and becomes involved when his client is accused of being complicit in the disappearance of Kathy Culver – who also happens to be the younger sister of Jessica Culver, Myron’s once-and-future love interest.

The tale is told with Coben’s characteristic New York – New Jersey attitude, sense of irony and humor and taut plot developments and hairpin twists and turns.



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