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Deal Breaker - Harlan Coben

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8 Reviews

Author: Harlan Coben / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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    8 Reviews
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      03.05.2013 15:04
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      Overall, a great thriller

      Having read two of Coben's standalone novels I was keen to get into his "Myron Bolitar" series, and have been looking for the first in the series in order not to miss anything of the characterisation. When I spotted it in my local charity shop, I snapped it up.

      The book introduces Myron, a huge sports star in his day, who retired due to injury and is now a relative newcomer to the world of being a Sports Agent. The story also introduces other characters who I guess will feature in future books, Esperanza and Win, his "operational" sidekicks, and also Jess, who although an 'ex' at the start of the book, comes across as being the true love of Myron's life. Time will tell on that one.

      The gist of the story, without giving too much away goes like this... Myron is representing a young sports star, Christian (fortunate name, as in my mind I thought of him as being as famous as Cristiano Ronaldo!) with one of the biggest sports teams locked in negotiations for his signature. Out of the blue, Christian receives an adult magazine featuring a nude photograph of a girlfriend of his, Kathy, who disappeared in suspicious circumstances 18 months previously, presumed dead - her underwear was found, which was the only trace to her. This girlfriend turns out to be the sister of Myron's ex, Jess, which is a handy personal interest for the central character. The appearance of the magazine is followed by a telephone call to Christian, also believed to be from Kathy. Other characters in the book are also linked back to Kathy as it transpires that they too have received or seen the magazine and/or had calls. To add to the story, Jess & Kathy's father has been murdered in a supposed random botched mugging a short time before the book begins.

      The book then follows Myron & Win trying to unravel the mystery and the various theories about where the magazine & calls originated, how the people who received or saw the magazine are linked, why these things happened, what actually happened to kathy, and obviously critically, whether she really is still alive. Various theories are tried out ... whether the team are trying to scandalise Christian to reduce his value, whether Kathy had had affairs, out-and-out blackmail, deeply hidden family secrets, long-buried scandal, etc. Running throughout the story is Myron and Jess's 'love' story as they reaquaint with each other and old feelings return to the surface as they are forced to investigate into the recent and distant past to try and piece the puzzle together. Even though there are lots of strands to the 'mystery' the plot is still relatively easy to follow, and whilst there are a lot of characters in the book I only found myself wondering "now who's that?" on one occasion.

      I find Coben's style of writing really easy going, although the language is very American, with some moments needing re-reading on my part. On the subject of language - there is a lot of bad language in the book, again one to avoid if that's a problem for you. Personally I'm not bothered by "F"s in writing as it lends realism to dialogue, although some of this did seem a bit over the top! The other thing to bear in mind is the overall 'setting' of the book - American sports. Again, this should be expected bearing in mind Myron's background and career, but it is very central to the book and a basic understanding may help! Chapters are kept short so it makes great reading in work breaks, although most chapters do leave you wanting to read the next, which is a always a good sign.

      There are also elements of sex and violence in the book but again, I found all of these scenes well written, and the violence was not gratuitously gory or anything.

      I have definitely enjoyed reading Deal Breaker, it kept me guessing until the end, and was wrapped up nicely and satisfyingly, but I can't say I was as "bowled over" by Myron Bolitar as I hoped to have been. In the crime genre however it was definitely an excellent read, and I will read more of his stories, however, now that I have met the characters.

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        26.10.2010 17:43
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        Thoroughly enjoyed it!

        I read this book as it was the latest suggestion in our book club. I was a bit dubious and kept re-reading the first page, thinking I would struggle to get into it. However I persevered, and am glad I did as I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it a real page turner!

        To be honest I haven't read many crime novels, so didn't really have anything to compare it to. The main character in the story is Myron Bolitar, who is a sports agent. He becomes involved in a mystery disappearance of his ex girlfriends sister, who happens to be the fiancee of one of his most talented sports stars.

        The story follows Myron and his friend Win, searching out clues regarding the disappearance and looking into the strange occurences that are affecting certain people who may or may not be involved with the disappearance.

        I really thought this book was good, and would recommend it. However, I do think that it did not seem to follow through consistently, and a few people in my book club noticed mistakes, such as Win being a very deep sleeper and not hearing a bedroom window smash, but then waking up when someone was in his room. I also found the story to be very American, and there were some references that I didn't understand. I also thought that the book featured Americal Football a bit too heavily, although involved with Myrons job, I did find myself skimming these parts, especially the legal wranglings over his star player.

        This is well worth a read, and I didnt guess the ending at all - was really well executed!

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          29.08.2009 09:37
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          Not one of Harlan's best novels but worth reading.

          Myron Bolitar is a sports agent who gets involved in a crime investigation in order to save not only his rookie quarterback Christian but to help his lost flame Jessica. Jessica's sister Kathy was Christians girlfriend - she went missing one night and was never found. There had been rumours of a serial killer after some bodies were found in nearby woods but Kathy's body was not amongst them. Over the years it was presumed she wouldn't be found. More recently Jessica's father was murdered - a supposed mugging - but Jessica had her doubts and believed it was connected to Kathy's dissappearance. She approaches Myron for his help. Christian Steel recieves a porn magazine in his post and in the back where the adverts for sex chat lines are is a picture of Kathy with a premium number. When they call the number it isn't Kathy's voice but this leaves open many questions as to who posted the advert. The story follows Myrons investigations to the deal breaker where we realise Christian is to blame - he discovered that Kathy had been sleeping around and he was ashamed of her behaviour and therefore killed her. When her father got close to revealing the truth he too killed him.

          I found the story quite hard to follow in places although it does leave you guessing till the end - I didn't guess it was Christian. I do love Harlan Coben books as they have mystery and intrigue but this one was a bit harder to follow than his other more articulate stories.

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            06.07.2009 22:15
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            Excellent crime writing with a nice light style that leads you through twists & turns & draws you in

            I am quite a fan of a decent crime novel, but I do get bored with authors who don't ring the changes, or who stick to writing books which follow a pattern that's too obvious. I have a few authors on my shelf who I really rate in this genre, amongst them, Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly, Johathan Kellerman and Harlan Coben.

            Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben is the very first book of his series following Myron Bolitar. Myron was a player who made it almost big, an accident scuppered his career however, and he became a sports agent instead. When one of his clients a football star named Christian Steel comes to him with a problem, he starts to turn detective to try and solve the problems, and so becomes Myron Bolitar Private Detective.

            This first book paints a portrait of Myron and his friends and colleagues in a really nice way, you get a great feel for the relationships that he has with some of them from Win his best friend who's - well he's a business man who likes money and women a lot more than he likes business, he is very wealthy, and a bit psychotic really. He's the hard man of the book I guess, but the character is written in such a way that you sort of aren't sure quite what to make of Win, and you sort of get the feeling that most people underestimate him. Then there's Esperanza - she's Myron's PA and good friend to both him and Win. She's also a big woman who used to be one half of a professional women's wrestling team. Then there's Jessica, she's Myron's ex, but there's still something there between them, and you sort of get this feeling in this book that there's more that we're going to learn about them in the future.

            The story is quite well written and progresses in a way that's pretty believable, Christian's girlfriend Kathy (Jessica's sister) went missing 18mths before the book starts and is presumed dead by everyone including the police, but then a phone call from her, and Christian receiving a dirty magazine with a picture on the front which has Kathy in it makes people realise that things may not be quite what they seem. Both Christian and Jessica want Myron to look into things and so he does. I liked that Coben didn't give too much information directly about anyone in the book, and yet the way it's written you really learn a lot. Myron's fights with some thugs show us he can protect himself, and the story twists and turns in a really easy to read way. It's not so heavy on the detective stuff that you feel Myron is overdrawn, in fact if anything, it's his happy go lucky, slight naivety that helps it feel more real, that and little things like Esperanza getting cross with him for neglecting his business a bit too much, and Win trying to stop him getting in too deep.

            I don't want to give too much of the plot away as this really was a good read, but if you're not comfortable with the idea of someone appearing on a sex magazine cover, then you probably don't want to read this as it does look into the sex industry, though I have to say there isn't anything really graphic in there. There is also some violence involved, and as Coben paints pictures with words quite well, if you're imagination is good you'll probably find yourself wincing once or twice too. I very much enjoyed the book, and reading it was my first introduction to Coben's writing and Myron's detecting, it certainly hasn't been the last and my bookshelves now have all Coben's fiction works adorning them now. I wouldn't say it's his best work overall, but it's pretty good, and as the first in the Myron Bolitar series, I'd say it's a pretty good place to start if you're thinking of reading a Coben book. I don't think this book is going to win awards particularly, but as crime fiction goes it's definitely up there amongst the best authors I've read who are still writing today.

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              24.12.2008 22:26
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              Enjoyable thriller

              I've read a lot of Harlan Cobens books but mainly the stand-alone novels. My Mum gave me this one which stars Myron Bolitar, a sports agent/investigator of which there are a few stories and I had one previously which I'd enjoyed.

              The Blurb

              When a woman who everyone, including the police, believes is dead, makes a phone call to a young sportsman about to hit the big time, it seems that more than just his career is on the line. Myron Bolitar investigates, and is plunged into a baffling, mystery of sex and blackmail. Trying to unravel the truth about a family's tragedy, a woman's secret and a man's lies, Myron soon realises that image and talent might make you rich, but the truth can get you killed.

              I believe this is the first of the series of Myron Bolitar stories and it is definitely one that would get you interested in reading more. Myron is an ex-basketball player who was about tot make the big time when he had a freak accident that put paid to his career, he then went on to work for the FBI, and now has started a sports agency. His newest and most high profile signing is a young man called Christian who is about to be signed with a big American football team when he receives a porn mag in the post which has a picture of his girlfriend in the back. The problem is his girlfriend, Kathy, has been missing for 18 months, presumed dead. Kathy was also the sister of Myron's greatest love, Jessica, who had left him years before, and their father was killed a few days earlier and Jessica wonders if the two events are connected and Myron starts to investigate.

              Myron is a likeable character, he is quite tough and sarcastic which makes for some funny put downs through the book but you also see the side to him that is kind and caring though his friendships and his love for Jessica. You only get a brief understanding of his past and although it is mentioned he was in the FBI it never really goes into detail about what he did when he worked for them, but I wonder if the author wants to be able to write a prequel or include more detail in further novels.

              Myron's best friend is Win, who is a rich businessman who looks like a stiff but is actually quite psychotic and will harm anyone who gets in Myron's way or wrongs him. His other friend, Esperanza, works for him as a Personal Assistant and used to be a professional female wrestler, we only learn how Myron met Win but you understand that these three friends are very close and will always watch each others back.

              Jessica is an author who describes herself as messed up, but you can see she does really care for Myron. He has obviously not got over her and there is still an attraction between them, but we don't learn how they split up or why. The relationship has been written so that you want to see what will happen to them in future books - will they or won't they?

              The story was written at a good pace and kept me interested through out with a few twists and turns. There is talk of sex and sex acts but not extremely graphically so for those easily offended this may not be a book for you. Along with the investigation aspect of the book there is also Myron running his sports agency but as it mainly American sports discussed this didn't really interest me but it is not too heavily involved.

              I did enjoy this book and will look out for more Myron Bolitar stories so I can find out what happens to him, his friends and his love life. If you enjoy a good crime thriller then I believe you will like this book and would recommend it to you.

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              16.10.2008 17:49
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              Great first novel

              It has become the norm amongst crime thriller authors to have a central character is their series of books so as to have some deeper plot to progress from book to book. James Patterson has Alex Cross, Michael Connelly has Harry Bosch, John Connolly has Charlie Parker, and Harlan Coben has the wise-cracking sports agent turned private detective Myron Bolitar.

              Deal Breaker is Coben's first novel, and as such the first featuring Bolitar. Little introduction is given at the start, with the author launches us almost immediately into the plot. As a sports agent, Myron has some high profile clients. When Football star Christian Steele, about to make it big time, gets a phone call from his girlfriend, believed to be dead, he turns to his agent, Myron, and asks him to help out.

              And so, the sports agent by day turns into the private investigator by night, and with the help of his ex-wrestler Esperanza 'Pocahontas' and his psychotic rich boy side-kick Windsor Horne Lockwood III (known, luckily, just as 'Win'), he sets about findign out the truth. Coben doesn't waste any time in showing us that Myron is handy in combat as he gets a visit from a couple of hoods within the first 20 pages, who he dispatches without help. He is also quick to inform us how this is nothing compared to Win, who is deadlier than deadliness itself!

              As Myron and his companions dig, they find out that not only may Christian's girlfriend, Kathy, be alive, but that there may be deeper things going on here, and the author testes the water with the underground worls of sex and blackmail. As the book races towards its conclusion, Coben starts to twist and turn his story, enticing us as readers to think twice about what we have already worked out, and throwing us a brilliant ending to a great first tale.

              The writing style is very easy to read. I find a lot of authors go into great detail with every book, about the surroundings and how things are done. Coben is more focused on the action and the plot than setting the scene, and I admire this: quite often, an author will need to rely on background and scene setting to thrill a reader, Coben doesn't need to. He has created a good mix of characters who work well together on paper, and give us an entertaining 340 pages.

              The book doesn't drag, and it is not overly complicated. Yes, there are plot twists that you don't see coming, but the storyline does not go off at a tangent every chapter, as a lot of the crime thriller genre writers tend to do. It focuses on the matter at hand. As such, there is little or no depth to the matter, and we do not gain a true interpretation of Myron and his companions until perhaps the third book in the series. However, as with most series, this book works well as an individual read, and kept me interested all the way through.

              I recommend reading this and all of Coben's other work. He is very good at plot creation and character development, and will keep you transfixed. This is no work of literary genius, but it is a very good crime thriller that stands out among the majority of those out there.

              The book retails at £6.99, and is available in most bookshops, but it is worth having a look around the charity shops or online for a cheaper deal. Amazon.co.uk currently have it for £2.84.

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              05.06.2008 20:14
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              Great book for your holidays

              Harlan Coben is now one of my favourite authors and I have read all of his books up to date. Deal Breaker was his very first and his first including the character Myron.

              Deal Breaker is about Myron Bolitar, a sports agent from New York who also does a little detective work when it is required. This is a crime novel and for me to like it means it has to be good as I rarely even pick up crime books as they don't interest me too much. Myron has to be the detective in this book when his new and promising client Christian Steele's girlfriend rings up when she is thought to be dead. So begins a thrilling journey into how Myron copes with this and deals with the chaos around him when he starts looking into her disappearance. Joining him in this novel is the wonderfully wicked and often psychotic best friend Win and his work associate Esperanza Diaz.
              As the first in a series including the three characters mentioned it does well and will definitely make you pick up the next books when you're in town. It is written well and the story is exceptional including many twists and turns that will leave you shocked when it has concluded. I love the characters in this book as they are written well and even though this is a crime novel and should be serious it still manages to fit quite a lot of humour into it.

              Overall I think this is a wonderful book that is brilliant as a holiday read and makes for a good start for the rest of the series. There are quite a few books including Myron and also a few stand alone books, all of which are very good. I recommend this book as I believe everyone will like it, women, men and teenagers. It is also quite cheap now as its a few years old, I am sure you can pick it up for under £5 on the internet.

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                08.05.2007 22:24
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                The start of a great crime thriller series

                It was nearly three years ago that I first came across the work of Harlan Coben, and that wasn't through his printed books at all. I listen to a lot of speech radio, and I heard several serialisations of his novels on Oneword radio. I enjoyed hearing the stories, and about six months ago when I was stuck at Heathrow airport for five hours waiting for a flight that looked like it was never going to take off. A trip to the airport bookshop seemed in order, and I discovered that they were selling 'Dealbreaker' on special offer, that finally persuaded me to give Harlan Coben a try. I had almost finished the book before the flight was called.

                First a brief outline of the plot.

                Christian Steele is a young American football quaterback at the start of his professional career, one day his life is thrown into chaos when he receives a phone call from his former fiancee whom he, and everyone else believes to be dead.

                Christian turns to his sports agent, Myron Bolitar for help, and it falls to Myron to investigate to case and find out what is going on. The case soon broadens out from the disappearance of one girl, to a situation involving sex, blackmail and murder in the world of American college sport, and the wider academic world.

                I can't really say too much more about the plot without disclosing the story. This book takes a series of plot twists and turns, and the reader is constantly wondering where the investigation will go next.

                Dealbreaker is very tightly plotted for all of its' almost 400 pages, and will certainly satisfy any lover of crime thrillers. I was a little worried before I started the book, because it is set in America, and it does involve a Sports Agent, and there is a lot of sport related themes in the book.
                I'm not American, nor a huge sports fan, and I wondered if Harlan Coben might have the same effect on me as John Grisham, who always manages to send me to sleep, with his American legal novels.

                with Harlan Coben and Dealbreaker, I find that the story is compelling enough to keep me interested even if he is describing something that wouldn't usually interest me.

                I'd recommend Dealbreaker to anyone who enjoys crime fiction, I've certainly gone on to read further books in the series and I think you will too.

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              • Product Details

                Investigator and sports agent Myron Bolitar is poised on the edge of the big-time. So is Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback and Myron's prized client. But when Christian gets a phone call from a former girlfriend, a woman who everyone, including the police, believes is dead, the deal starts to go sour. Suddenly Myron is plunged into a baffling mystery of sex and blackmail. Trying to unravel the truth about a family's tragedy, a woman's secret and a man's lies, Myron is up against the dark side of his business - where image and talent make you rich, but the truth can get you killed.