Book Reviews

Book Review: Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben – The First Myron Bolitar Book

Harlan Coben is a fairly prolific author.  In addition to a significant number of stand-alone stories, he has a series with an ongoing character named Myron Bolitar.  Once a professional basketball player in his own right, Myron is a sports agent, or at least he aspires to be.

In Deal Breaker, it would seem that Myron Bolitar is about to hit it big.  He’s about to sign a huge deal for his client, Christian Steele, with a local professional football team.  Unfortunately, just before the deal goes through, some strange events take place which might decrease Christian’s stock a bit.  A few months before, Christian’s fiancée, Kathy, disappeared without a trace.  Christian was never charged with a crime in the case.  When Christian starts receiving phone calls from the disappearing fiancée, his life changes.  Can it just be a hard-hitting tactic by the owner of the club that’s trying to sign him? Or is there more to Kathy’s disappearance and the murder of her father, the alleged victim of a mugging, just a few weeks prior?

Myron begins to investigate on his own.  You see, Kathy also happened to be the younger sister of Myron’s former girlfriend, Jessica.  He’s got both a professional and personal interest in the case.  At the same time, he’s negotiating deals for Christian and another football player as well as grabbing another young athlete under his representation.  In the meantime, he’s exposing the underbelly of college sports as well as the sex trade and one family’s brokenness beneath the appearance they put out there for the rest of the world.

Deal Breaker featured a good mix of action and suspense as well as Myron’s regular job bleeding over into what he was trying to do.  There are plenty of humorous moments as well.  Myron has a rather self-deprecating attitude that is pretty humorous at times.  Sometimes he vocalizes this, sometimes the reader just gets to glimpse what’s going on in his head.  Either way, it’s pretty funny.  There are some scenes that really stretch believability.  The adventures he has when his friend Win helps him investigate does stretch credibility at times, as does the convenient relationship his former lady-wrestler secretary, Esperanza, has with someone they just happen to need to talk with.  They are plot points, though, that overall are forgivable in what is a fun and thrilling book.

I’m glad that Deal Breaker is the first in a series.  I really would like to read more about this colorful cast of characters and I hope that Coben can keep them fresh and interesting.  This was a lot of fun to read and the mystery kept me guessing until the end.  Every time I just about thought I figured it out, he threw another curve my way.  In the end, it makes sense but is still rather complicated.

If you’ve never read any of Harlan Coben’s work, this is a good place to start.  The characters are good without being too over the top and the few convenient plot points are forgivable.  All in all I found Deal Breaker to be an exciting and fun read.