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Play Dead by Harlan Coben

Play DeadReviewed by Allen Hott

An older Coben mystery but still great reading. Pretty much as usual he has tied the characters into basketball but along with that approach he has integrated a love story and also a really intriguing murder mystery.

Play Dead opens with a prologue telling of a meeting between several people who appear to be arguing. That prologue ends with a gunshot and then the story begins to unfold. Not with the gunshot and possible murder. At least not yet. Oh no, Coben then weaves in the love story and explains how Celtics basketball star David Baskin and Laura Ayars are enjoying their honeymoon in Australia.

Sadly however that honeymoon turns out very badly as David supposedly is drowned while out swimming. Laura is devastated. After a period of mourning and self-pity she returns to her business where she is the CEO of a large fashion house which she had founded some years ago. One of her top models, Serita, as a major player in the company and Laura’s closest friend, begins to do everything possible to get Laura away from the sadness and on with her life.
Several strange things happen which all seem connected to David’s death. Shortly after his drowning someone took a large sum of money from his bank account and moved it offshore. And about the same time David’s older brother, Stan, shows up supposedly to mourn the death. The truth of the matter is that Stan and David never got along. Stan has lived a completely different life with lots of gambling, women, and little money. He is however very persuasive with the ladies and he begins his own systematic endeavor to work his way into Laura’s life through Laura’s sister. The sister, Gloria, has recently been saved from a terrible life of drugs, sex, and attempted suicide. Read the rest of this entry »

Live Wire by Harlan Coben

Live WireReviewed by Allen Hott

The adventures of Myron Bolitar continue! Harlan Coben’s favorite hero is again on the scene with his gang. Win, Esperanza, and Big Cyndi all pitch in to help Myron on one of his strangest and personally gut-wrenching cases.

As he works to find the missing husband of one of his clients (who happens to be a pregnant tennis star), Myron gets very involved with a very popular singing act called Live Wire. The missing husband is one half of the duo that makes up Live Wire. Not only is he missing but a very strange posting has been made to the wife’s Facebook page that strongly suggests the husband is not the father of the soon to be born child.

Myron begins his search although he is emotionally distressed because his father is presently in the hospital suffering from what could turn out to be a fatal heart attack. His father however urges Myron to continue and at the same time to hunt for Myron’s missing brother who left the family some years ago due to a major confrontation with Myron.
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Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben

Darkest FearReviewed by Allen Hott

An oldie but goodie by Coben. Myron Bolitar, one of Coben’s continuing characters, is really entangled in this one. First his father has just suffered a heart attack while Bolitar was in the Caribbean and now the outlook of both of Bolitar’s parents has changed. Since he has lived in their basement since before and after college any disruption in their lives affects him.

Even complicating things further is the fact that an old flame of his in college (who dropped him for his biggest competitor) informs Myron that he is the father of her thirteen-year-old son. She and her husband have split up and even worse the son has been found to be in need of a bone marrow transplant. As readers would expect she goes to Myron for help.

And actually the timing is extremely bad as MB Enterprises (Myron’s sports agency) is not doing well and needs his full time commitment to reestablish some ties as well as build some new ones. His partner, Esperanza, and his buddy, Win, are both working to help him but they are not advised of the paternity situation. Read the rest of this entry »

The Final Detail by Harlan Coben

The Final DetailReviewed by Allen Hott

An earlier Myron Bolitar thriller by Coben and a very interesting twisting story. One major difference is that in this one Myron is working with a baseball player rather than a basketball player, which is his normal fixation. However he and his crew are involved as agents for sports figures so the story is entirely believable.

What does seem unbelievable however is that Esperanza, his former girl Friday and now partner at MB Agents, has just been charged with the murder of one of their clients. Or as the case would have it “former” clients. All of this transpired while Myron was off out of touch with the world. He was supposedly getting over a “final” breakup with his long time love. No one knew where he had gone nor how long he would be gone. Luckily Win Horne, Myron’s longtime associate and master of everything imaginable was able to track him down.

Even though both Myron and Win feel confident that Esperanza did not in fact kill Clu Haid, the former client, they find quickly that they have their work cut out for them in finding the real killer. One major part of their problem is that Esperanza refuses to speak with them and her attorney also refuses to deal with them in any way. Read the rest of this entry »

Drop Shot by Harlan Coben

Drop Shot by Harlan CobenReviewed by Allen Hott

This is about the third or fourth in Coben’s series featuring Myron Bolitar and his crew. Since this was written Coben has written about three or four more with the same main characters. Why? Because these characters are as close to live people as any author can possibly make them. The banter between them sounds exactly like the talk most of us hear every day either at home, at work, or wherever we may be. And that is what sells books!

The banter between Myron and Win is especially interesting. Win is Windsor Horne Lockwood III who has been Myron’s closest friend since college. The pair work as a sports agent/financial adviser team supposedly but normally they spend their time solving mysteries, chasing bad guys, and partying in their own way.

Drop Shot opens with the duo at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship watching Myron’s newest tennis phenom work his way toward the finals. However while the match is going on a shot rings out. When Myron and Win get to where the sound came from they find a dead young female lying on the ground. The dead girl is Valerie Simpson who had been a professional tennis player and who also had called Myron’s office several times early that day.
Because of the circumstances the two decide to do some investigating on their own despite the efforts of the police to keep them out of it. Another reason for their continuing is that the police believe that Myron’s new phenom is somehow involved. Read the rest of this entry »

Play Dead by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Vickie Dailey

Play Dead by Harlan CobenThis book is fantastic. It is filled with great plot twists. As we learn from the author in the Note: This book was written 20 years ago as his first novel (remained unpublished until now) and he resisted updating the book to today’s time. This may be why the book is filled with such energy.

The story revolves around Laura (former model) and champion basketball player David. While eloping to Australia, David tragically drowns. Laura is heartbroken and cannot stop thinking about David.
For reasons not even known to herself, she starts delving into David’s life to try and make sense of his death. Unfortunately, this stirs up the past and people start dying. With the help of her sister Gloria and several others. Luara starts to put the pieces together.

Enter Mark Sneidman – new all-star basketball player that plays remarkably like David. Gloria’s new boyfriend Stan (David’s brother) and a Boston Celtics game, one person decides the truth from the past must be told.

The author offers several likely murder suspects – with a climactic end. Read the rest of this entry »

Miracle Cure by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Miracle Cure by Harlan CobenMiracle Cure is one of Harlan Coben’s earliest novels and it is somewhat different from the books he writes today. The story is about an Aids Clinic and a series of Gay Slasher murders that appear to be tied to the clinic.

The action starts with the brutal beating and eventual murder of one of the heads of the clinic. He had just arrived back in the States from their storage facility in Bangkok. The killer made the murder appear to be a suicide as the body was found outside the motel where the man was to have spent the night. A forced suicide note and busted out window made it look as though the man had taken his own life.

Two good friends of the Clinic’s doctor/owners happen to be a professional basketball player, Michael Silverman and his wife, Sara Lowell, who is a television reporter. They are not only remorseful about the death of the partner but also shocked at the recent deaths of several patients of the clinic. They were killed in what appears to be homophobic murders. And the surviving doctor/owner, Harvey Riker, is completely devastated by the three deaths.
A U.S. congressman and a holier than thou preacher also become quite involved in the dealings as they are attempting to shut down the clinic completely. Although their reasons are different they both are adamant about the hoped for results.

Max Bernstein, the homicide detective assigned to the case, is an acquaintance of both Sara and Michael. As he begins to get into the investigation of the murders/suicide Michael suddenly becomes violently ill and is diagnosed at first with hepatitis. However later testing shows that he has Aids that most probably was contracted from a transfusion that he had to have when he was injured in a boating accident in the Bahamas.

Throughout the story the hired killer is going about his business of “taking care of business” and the police are trying to figure out all the connections.

There are many twists and additional subplots woven into the master theme all of which holds the reader’s attention but doesn’t give up the mastermind behind the endeavor until the end.

Somewhat unusual for Coben is the appearance of a bit more foul language and sex as opposed to his later writings. Perhaps he felt that they were unnecessary and he decided to just write without the use of those tools.

The ending is pretty much a surprise for the reader as of the possible suspects the actual culprit is pretty much a true mystery though an integral part of the story.

Innocent by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Innocent by Harlan CobenMatt Hunter was a twenty- year old college student when he was convicted of killing another young man in a brawl started by a drunken friend of Matt’s. Although there was doubt as to intent Matt was sentenced and served four years in prison.

Nine years after his release Matt and Olivia (his pregnant wife) each get cell phones and this very interesting mystery written by Harlan Coben begins. While his wife is away on what he believes to be a business trip, Matt receives some very disturbing photos via their new cell phones. He becomes angry, perplexed, and decides to find out what is going on.

After getting involved with both the local authorities and a private investigator Matt discovers that an unknown man is following him. However shortly thereafter that unknown man is killed. Read the rest of this entry »

Long Lost by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

lostRemember Myron Bolitar? If you read Harlan Coben you have to know Myron Bolitar. Former college/pro basketball player turned sports agent and part time detective.

A strange phone call from an old love gets Myron Bolitar off on his latest adventure. Terese Collins calls him and begs him to come to Paris and says that she needs him really badly. He attempts to find out what is going on but she quickly hangs up after telling him of her hotel’s name. Myron has recently been seeing symptoms of “dusting off” by his latest flame but he still isn’t sure he wants to get reenrolled with Terese.

However after an altercation with a basketball coach at a youth’s game, Myron decides to head to Paris. Primarily because it turns out that the coach was also a captain in the local police force and he intends to press charges against Myron although the coach started the melee. Read the rest of this entry »

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

tightFairly early on, the author relates that Mike Baye had developed a strong bond with his son Adam. When Adam was four he begged Mike to take him on one of the highest, scariest roller coasters at the fair. As the car started up the first incline Mike looked over at Adam, who grinned and said, “Hold Tight”. Later in the crush of the crowd as they were leaving the ride, Mike grabbed Adam’s hand and happily said, “Hold Tight”.

That bond continued as they played hockey together with Mike a former college All-American hockey player teaching Adam all about the sport. Adam followed in his footsteps and also excelled at the sport. However in the teen years he grew further and further away from hockey, his dad, and his family.

Mike believed it to be typical teenage rebellion or whatever and wasn’t too excited. However his wife, Tia, was very upset and concerned. She feared that Adam was into something that wasn’t right and convinced Mike to put a spying device on Adam’s computer.

Intermeshed with the above is the fact that Adam’s eleven-year-old sister sees her best friend embarrassed completely because a teacher makes a remark about the young girl’s facial hair. This teacher is looked up to by all of his students but he was having a bad day and inadvertently made the comment. He apologized but hit was too late. Again in today’s world much teasing and nastiness is then put on the Internet by many of the youngsters from the class. Her separated parents are very upset and work out their revenge in their own way. Ironically part of that also involves the Internet. Read the rest of this entry »