When the running gets tough (and long), I find my latest default stuck-in-the-ears choices to last me another 10, 20, 30 miles is something by Harlan Coben (because his Tell No One was my first pulp mystery ever and remains a favorite over a decade later) or Carl Hiaasen (because I get so gleeful catching glimpses of his irresistibly wacky eco-warrior, Clinton Tyree, aka ‘Skink’ or ‘Captain’). As formulaic as these titles can be, that also means they’re reliably entertaining (with both #9 and #10 most excellently read by Steven Weber – yes, he of Wings fame!), especially when the brain is a bit shut down because the body is on auto-run.
So welcome to the tail end of Coben’s Myron Bolitar series: Bolitar is a former basketball star-turned sleuthing entertainment agent with a Harvard Law degree … and a 10-volume-thus-far hero. You don’t really need to read the series in order … or ever read all of, for that matter. Not that they’re not mindless fun, but as these thrillers go, you eventually start guessing a bit too accurately too early on – which is why I can economically lump two here and not even feel guilty!
Long Lost (#9) is definitely the better of these two. When Bolitar gets an urgent call from Terese Collins, who he hasn’t heard from since their torrid affair ended abruptly seven years ago, he gets on a plane to Paris where she eventually gives him a sob story about a missing ex-husband and their dead child. The plot quickly does a double take when the ex turns up dead and DNA results reveal a very living daughter … In the midst of dealing with sarcastic French secret policemen, lying fertility doctors, and amoral terrorists, Bolitar ends up falling in love all over again.
By the time Live Wire (#10) begins, Bolitar’s engaged to faraway Terese Collins, although they never get to see each other during the whole book. He’s hired by an old friend, a former tennis prodigy (and recovering drug addict!) who’s now eight months pregnant, who can’t seem to find her rock star husband. Work suddenly overlaps with Bolitar’s personal life when he realizes his estranged sister-in-law – who’s strung out on heroin more often than not – is somehow involved. Meanwhile, Bolitar’s younger brother, who the family hasn’t seen in 16 years, has gone missing. [Coben introduces Myron's teenage namesake/nephew Mickey Bolitar in this latest volume, who now stars in his own young adult series!]
I really don’t post every book I read … and these two would have fallen in the ‘no-post’ category except for a recurring character’s disturbing, insulting Asian fetish over which I can’t seem to let go of my growing annoyance. Bolitar’s best friend and partner, billionaire bad-boy Windsor Horne Lockwood III, starts with one Asian girlfriend in Long Lost: her name is Mee and he shows no end to his moronic puns with her name in describing their sexual antics. By Live Wire, Win’s Asian conquests have doubled, and he’s parading Mee and Yu around as his sex-toy trophies, exponentially upping the cringe-factor.
For Coben, who’s apparently the first writer to win an Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony (three of the top awards for mystery writers), such low-brow insensitivity seems careless and out of character. I can’t stop asking myself why an internationally mega-bestselling author would stoop so low (not to mention what must be his editors’ blind compliance!) … why oh why??!! Opinions definitely welcome!
Published: 2009 and 2011