“ Author: Harlan Coben / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 07 November 2013 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Publisher: Orion Publishing Co / Title: Darkest Fear / ISBN 13: 9781409150459 / ISBN 10: 1409150459 / Alternative EAN: 9780752849195 „
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This book is obviously available with more than one cover art as the copy I've got has a dark green illustration on the front. Looking on Amazon, there is a third cover art variation to the one shown by Dooyoo even. So if you're looking out for this book, be careful to look for the specific title and not just the cover like I sometimes lazily do! If you wanted to buy a copy new online it costs £5.29 from Amazon. You might not be willing to pay that much for it when you've read mine and other people's reviews on it though.
This book starts out promisingly enough. For starters, the blurb has a really enthusiastic accreditation underneath it. I should have thought twice when I realised it was written by FHM though, a young lad's magazine!
The story is all about Sport's Agent Myron Bolitar. He gets a call from his ex-girlfriend from years ago asking for his help. There's some history here that I wasn't aware of as I haven't read any earlier books involving this character. But apparantly, Myron has a bit of a history with detective work and that's why his ex wants his help - to do some digging for her. Her son Jeremy is sick, and it turns out that it isn't her husband's son but Myron's son too. We're told this on the back of the book so it's not a spoiler, it's given as a reason to get Myron involved in the case.
The case is basically that Jeremy has falconi anaemia and needs a marrow transplant, but the only match for him on the register has disappeared. There's nothing more the professionals can do to help, so Emily gets Myron to dig around underground a bit.
Along the way, Myron stumbles across a whole new plot that he and his investigative pal Windsor get caught along with. Just to try and add some spice to the mix, the author then throws in a little sub-plot to try to throw us readers off the scent of what's really going to happen. It didn't work for me at all though.
I enjoyed reading the book because there are lots of really great little humorous gags in here. I think the author is very witty and uses lots of funny little snippets of sarcasm throughout. But his talents as a mystery writer aren't on the same level, and I knew when I was being led off the scent quite quickly.
I thought I was going to read a book with a really great twist in the end. Unfortunately, the ending was exactly the kind of cliche last-minute twist that I expected! It really ruined the book for me. This is a well written novel and the concept of the story is good enough to have made a decent book out of. I just don't think the author, Harlan Coben, managed to pull it off in the end.
Harlan Coben's series of books featuring his main character, Myron Bolitar, have been very popular. When we first read about him in Deal Breaker as a young, charismatic sports agent turned private investigator, we met with a confident character who shone out of the book and gave us a very fresh image of the man in the words. A few books and years on, Darkest Fear examines an area of Myron's past that has come back to haunt him, as well as give him a fresh 'case' to work on. This is a strange combination from Coben, and one that hasn't completely worked for me.
Myron Bolitar is a successful and popular sports agent, an ex-basketball star with bad knees ending his career before it even had a chance to lift off. Taking a by-line and moonlighting as a private investigator has seen him help countless people, but also make enemies, on both sides of the law. In Darkest Fear, Myron's childhood sweetheart, Emily, suddenly appears back in his life, 14 years after they last saw each other, with the news that she and her husband are soon to be divorced, but that even more worryingly, their 13 year old son Jeremy is dying and needs a bone marrow transplant. This can only be from one man, and that person has disappeared.
This is where the past catches up to Myron, as she reveals that he is actually Jeremy's father, conceived the last time they saw each other, the day before Emily and Greg's wedding. As a result, Greg has never forgiven Myron, understandably so, and the tension between them all sets in. As Myron agrees to help find the bone marrow donor, he uncovers some corruption and kidnapping as well as the usual twists and turns in his investigation. Will Myron find this donor and save Jeremy's life, or will disaster strike our hero?
Myron has a knack for making enemies on both sides of the law. Here, he becomes involved with a potentially crooked budding reporter, Stan Gibbs, who is watched by the FBI, who like him for previous offences. Characterisation is minimal in this book for Myron, and this is where you will miss a lot of the sub plots if you have never read a Bolitar book before. Much of it will be lost on the reader who is a first-timer, and this in turn will confuse you in terms of the reltaionships he has with a number of characters who pop up.
Sadly, I don't rate this book as highly as his others. It almost seems as if Coben ran out of ideas for the latest Myron book and decided that this was a good enough plot to be carrying on with. Potentially, it could be great, but the plot is too open from the beginning and the plot twists towards the end surprisingly apparent from early. This surprises me as Coben is normally very good at sucking the reader in and making you think everything is normal before delivering a sucker punch with a brilliant and dramatic twist.
This all having been said, I still rate this book. I have read the Myron books in order, and so it was just like continuing a saga when reading it. I found no problem with understanding the main plot or any of the sub plots and relationships with his characters, but can easily understand how someone else might. Coben has written and published a number of excellent stand alone novels that can be read without previous Coben experience, books not involving Bolitar, and these are excellent. However, the Bolitar books do need to be read in order to fully grasp their concept and characters, many of whom are glossed over due to previous expansion in other books.
Coben's writing style is very smooth, and the words do sink effortlessy in when reading. Nothing too complicated in terms of flow, although the plot twists and links to it are at times quite intrinsic and well thought out. Even so, it was nowhere near as good as his normal twists and turns, and this disappointed me.
In conclusion, I would warn potential consumers to start at the beginning of the Bolitar series if you haven't done so already. Reading this first will confuse you as well as give you spoilers for previous books. If you are already a fan of Myron Bolitar, then you'll enjoy this, I just don't think it's as good as the previous Bolitar books.
Darkest Fear retails at £6.99 and is available in most bookshops, although you can probably pick it up much cheaper in charity shops or online.
Darkest Fear is one of those books that I bought because the story line sounded somewhat appealing and because the book was on sale in a clear-out. Although I had never heard of the author, Harlan Coben was noted to be a best selling author of the novel No second chance. Consequently I thought that this book would be, at the very least, an average piece of reading. I bought the book and I kept it for several months, before I was finally persuaded by a Ciao review to take it with me on a business trip.
I first started this book on the way back from my business trip. My colleague, who was sitting opposite of me, took an interest in what I was reading. I confessed that I did not remember what the book was about, as I had bought it ages ago. All the more shocked was I to commence reading the book and starting to feel increasingly uncomfortable about my choice the first thirty to fourty pages made this seem like some kind of cheap sex novel that you would buy at the cash register in a supermarket. To give you a flavour:
As a young coed shed had long, kinky hair that always had that just-did-the-nasty muss to it, a crooked smile that could knock a movie up a rating, and a subconsciously undulating body that continuously flickered out the word sex like an old movie projector.
It was language like that that made me blush and turn to the back of the book to reassure myself that I had not in fact picked up some kind of embarrasing book. I was quickly calmed down by the fact that the back of the cover revealed nothing of the like, and continued reading.
The book is the story of Myron Bolitar, a sports-agent at MB SportsReps. His career is somewhat going down the tubes and life is not that great in general. Sure, he has this woman in his life, a quite successful TV personality named Terese, but that is all a rather sad rebound relationship.
One day, his long-term girlfriend from college calls his office with an urgent request to see him. Myron is not very keen on seeing her, as their relationship had never been easy. In fact, Emily had broken up with Myron back then and then married his former friend Greg only to cheat with Myron the night before she got married to Greg. Needless to say, Emily is a little messed up. At first Myron tries to avoid meeting up with Emily, but then he finally gives in only to be presented with a shocking piece of news. Emily reveals that apparently she has a 13-year old son named Jeremy. And Jeremy is apparently a result of the one night of passion shared the night before her wedding to Greg.
The news is made more astounding by the fact that Jeremy is seriously ill and is on the verge of dying unless he receives a bone marrow transplant. Emily begs Myron to help her in this matter. Emily reveals that they had found a matching bone marrow donor on the register, but that this donor had disappeared without a trace. She urges Myron to help her find the donor. If this should fail, she suggests the unthinkable to Myron to create another child with his semen and her eggs to save Jeremy. As much as he would like to say no, Myron of course helps out, not least because he may be the father of this suffering child.
Myron soon embarks on an interesting journey of trying to find the bone marrow donor and at the same time also considers pursuing the other option, though naturally, a lot more reluctantly. Along the way this bone marrow-hunting expedition brings a number of surprises not least because he soon appears on the FBI radar that suspects Myrons involvement of sorts in a kidnapping ordeal along the side of a reporter named Stan Gibbs.
***The main characters***
The great downfall of the book are its characters, who appear rather lifeless and faceless. They lacked character to such an extent, that I simply could not care about what was happening to them.
Myron, as mentioned above, is a sports agent who makes his money by trying to get sports personalities sponsorship and advertising deals. He is pretty much a bachelor, has never been lucky in love, and his newest partner Terese does not seem to be a likely soulmate. Myron used to be a sports personality himself, but his career was ended when Greg, who found out about the sexual encounter between Emily and Myron the night before his wedding, injured Myron so badly, that he had to give up pro-ball.
Myron comes across as pretty much an average joe, and he is so characterless that it is hard to paint a true picture of him.
Myrons college sweetheart and somewhat of a sex kitten, as it would appear. The impression one gets is that she simply uses men to her advantage and to get what she wants. I pretty much imagine a big-breasted Bimbo, very fake looking, who spends most of her time in hair saloons and nail studios. She was married to Greg, but the marriage is on the rocks and the two are separated.
Emily Downings soon-to-be ex-husband, who loves Jeremy more than anything in the world. Having been extremely hurt by the events before his wedding night, he has never quite forgiven his former friend and is at first very upset about Myrons involvement in the quest for the bone marrow. He probably would not have agreed if it was not for the purpose of saving Jeremys life. Greg comes across as a bit of a rough man, tall and muscly, with a bit of an anger management problem. Yet, he also comes across as somewhat of a softy on the inside.
Jeremy is Myrons and Emilys 13-year old son, who suffers from a bone marrow disease. Emily tries to stop Myron from meeting Jeremy, because she feels like Jeremys father figure should remain Greg. Consequently, we do not meet Jeremy till late in the book. This is rather unfortunate, because it makes one care so little about the whole process of obtaining the bone marrow to save Jeremys life. If he was met earlier in the story, there may have been more appeal to it. Funnily enough, Jeremy is one of the few characters with some soul he is a bright and cute skinny boy with a good head on his shoulders.
The most character-less individual amongst all of them, Stan Gibbs is a budding reporter who apparently had first-hand access to a demented kidnapper and serial killer about whom he has written a best-selling book. The FBI, however, reckons that this book is plagarised and that Stan is indeed the kidnapper himself. When Myron comes across Stan in his hunt for the bone marrow, he quickly has the FBI on his trail himself and has a hard time convincing them that he has nothing to do with the whole story.
As I said above, the first flaw in this book is the fact that the characters are so pointless and so boring, that you can never relate to any of them or care about any of them.
A second flaw is the huge amount of needless sub-plot. In the story line you often get these little sub-plots and facts about Myron that seem pointless and do not make you care about him any more than before. The whole relationship with Terese, for example, is only briefly touched upon and never really comes to a conclusion. From time to time you also meet some of his clients from his sports agency which is also needless plot.
The third flaw is the actual plot itself it just so drags on and on and never really gets you excited. The story has some 338 pages, and it took me until about page 275 to get any kind of thrill from it.
The fourth flaw is its predictability. Yes, there is supposed to be a twist in this book and there is indeed a twist, but it does not have much of a surprise effect, as any regular reader can easily see where the story is going.
The fifth flaw is its title. It is indeed very catchy and is trying to catch your attention. And there is a reason for the title as deep inside the story there does lie something which, for many people, would seem like the darkest fear they could have. However, as the plot and the character fails miserably to instill the fear in the reader, the title also does not seem very appropriate.
The book is written in simple language and any reader with time on his hands should be able to read it in one or two days, but I found myself not caring enough to do so. I read the first 100 pages and then left the book for a few weeks before forcing myself to finish it.
If you are a bookworm and find this in the library or for £1.99, like I did, then you could be reading worse than this one. Go for it. But if you are pressed for time and are looking for a good read, then I would definitely give this a miss.
***What some of the critics said and what I say***
What sets Harlan Coben above the crowd are wit and an entertaining plot Los Angeles Times Book review
Response: I could see neither wit nor entertainment value in this book!
Fast action, snappy dialogue, and plenty of insuder hoops material make this a fast, enjoyable read Toronto Star
Response: This book was slow, the dialogue was not snappy and the read was boring.
Coben scores a hole in one! The characters are deftly etched and the details keenly observed. Publishers Weekly
Response: I do agree that Coben is great on some day-to-day detail and he does have some good descriptive writing, but he fails to give the detail to his characters.
Published by Orion
ISBN0 75284 919 0
Well last summer I bought 3 books in a 3 for 2 offer at Waterstones. Unfortunately the two I had read already were mediocre and awful so when I got to my third purchase Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben I was not holding out much hope of it being any better.
The cover of the book does make it look promising though. A long road through countryside trees all shrouded in mist. Just below the words Darkest Fear is written in stark angular and raised type and below that again is the authors name in White best selling author of No Second Chance
A best selling author eh? Well for £6.99 for the paperback Id expect to be reading something from a good author thats for sure! (copies go for around £2.50 on Ebay currently) So with some trepidation and not much anticipation I began to read.
Myron Bolitar is a sports representative and his business is in decline. He visits home one day and receives a call out of the blue from his first love, Emily. Emily was married to Myrons biggest rival. Greg. Greg and Myron both played college basketball. Greg went on to play professionally but Myron received an injury in a game which halted his professional career.
Now Emily is divorced and bringing up her thirteen year old son alone. Whats more Jeremy has Fanconi Anemia, A deadly infection which can only be cured by a bone marrow transplant. The only match they found has pulled out at the last minute and Emily wants Myron to help find him again.
Why should he? You ask well he has undertaken this kind of work before for Emily, a few years ago when her husband had gone missing plus Emily drops a bomb that shatters Myrons perception and makes him desperate to take this challenge on.
As if finding the bone marrow donor is not hard enough, Myron manages to get himself involved with an FBI investigation of kidnapper and suspected murderer and ends up investigating this kidnapper too. Is there a connection? Youll have to read to find out.
This is a thrilling book. Fast paced and well written. Myron is very easy to identify with. He is a bit of a geek at heart and he has a wonderful self depreciating humour that makes you giggle even at the most serious of moments in the action. This humour makes the book more palatable and light. I think without it Coben would have crossed over into the realm of horror instead of fitting snugly into the crime thriller genre.
The narrative is rich and descriptive, in fact you know youre onto a good thing from the very first line
An hour before his world exploded like ripe tomato under a stiletto heel, Myron bit into a fresh pastry that tasted suspiciously like a urinal cake.
Fast paced, witty and poignant the action skips along quickly but not at such a speed that you feel like you cant keep up. You are absorbed into the story from the very start and believe me this is a book you will not find easy to put down. It is a joy to read and even though I am not normally a fan of this particular genre I would happily read one of his other titles without hesitation.
I have been trying to think of an Author to compare Coben too but it is difficult as really he is such a fresh and innovative author. I see traces of Tom Holts imaginative wit and combined with the wonderful attention to character detail of the likes of Charles Dickens and Roald Dahl. Coben however creates something completely unlike any of the books written by these authors. He really is unique and a very promising talent.
So he writes well, has good believable characters but what I the story line like? Well I was hooked from the beginning to the end. You are pulled into Myron Cobens world and swept along in the action. It is all very real, there is no point in the story when you think That would never happen and you never feel let down by the building tension-it lasts right up until the end of the whole book, no one section is stronger than the others, I think Coben really enjoyed writing this book and his relish is reflected in every paragraph.
Value for money? Definitely. I would even suggest paying full whack if you need to this really is an excellent read and even a cheap skate like me would be tempted to buy this gem at £6.99.
Darkest Fear is published by Orion books.
For more about the Author and his books check out :
Myron tries desperately to save the life of the son he never knew he had...