Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Live Wire by Harlan Coben

Dutton, 2011. 978-0-525-95206-0. 375 pages.
I received this book as a review copy.

Myron Bolitar is the principal partner of MB Reps representing athletes, actors, and writers. Suzze Trevantino, a former tennis star and one of Myron's first clients, has a problem and she turns to him. She is pregnant and someone has posted on facebook that the child is not her husband's. Suzze fears that the suspicion will kill her marriage to the rock legend Lex, who Myron also represents. Myron agrees to help and with the assistance of his partner, Esperanza Diaz,  Windsor Horne Lockwood III, his silent partner/investor(?) begins an investigation that will drop into his dark past and put him into physical, personal danger, and threaten his career.

I was aware of Harlan Coben's books but had shied away because of the sports theme. I have low sports awareness and when confronted by sports enthusiasts I generally tell people that I follow cricket  because there is a very slim chance in the U.S. that I'll have to explain. I took the review copy because Coben is a popular author, a friend of mine at the public library likes him, and I was curious. This is an example of why a reader should be careful not to allow preconceptions to get in the way of a good read; I thoroughly enjoyed the book and plan to go back to the beginning of the series.

As a person who is compulsive about reading a series in order, how do I feel about starting with the latest book in the series? Pretty good. Obviously there is much backstory about the characters I don't know but I didn't feel confused. The plot hold up well on its own and Coben's skill at presenting his characters engaged me without having had to grow up with them.

Though Myron's profession is agent to the stars, Live Wire is essentially a straight-up detective story on the edge of hardboiled. Myron certainly has the wisecracking part down and, like a true hardboiled detective, he is going to crack-wise even if it means it will get him beaten up. He also made me laugh quite a few times. Also like the classic hardboiled detective, he skirts the law, if not outright breaks it, and assists in some extra-legal justice. The plot, like many detective stories, starts out simple but gets complicated the deeper Myron investigates and the more new details of the character's lives emerge. Finally, Myron does have his personal conflicts and demons. Here an incident from his past involving family surfaces forcing Myron to examine his feelings and motivations and look for redemption.

I enjoyed the set of core characters Coben created. Myron Bolitar, basketball star turned sports agent after he blew out his knee. Esperanza Diaz, beautiful, a former wrestler, and ex-bisexual party girl who is Myron's business partner and now married with a son.  Windsor Horne Lockwood III (Win), very rich and very dangerous despite his somewhat effete appearance. People who misjudge Win regret it, often from a hospital bed. Big Cyndi, receptionist at MB Reps, six-five, former wrestler, with an interesting fashion sense and a smile that makes children screen. Think Janet Evanovich's Lula but more extreme. Coben has a lot of fun with Big Cyndi.

The ending left me stunned in that Live Wire could could serve as the end of the series. I haven't read any interviews with the author so I can't say for sure but it doesn't feel like the end. Still, I'm intensely interested how Coben resolves the issues left at the conclusion.

Live Wire is an excellent read and I recommend it to people who enjoy a good detective story.