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Ever since the 80s when thousands of little girls wanted to grow up to be like Boy George, gender confusion has been just that - confusing. Tackling the difficult question of whether some one if Arthur or Martha is now even more complex as you can throw in Artha and Mathur into the mix too. It should be handled sensitively and with adequate decorum. This could help you in a dark bar one night to make sure you are going home with no little surprises in wait (or big surprises for a lucky few). The humble crime thriller is not the medium that I would choose to tackle the subject matter. But in 'The Final Detail' Harlan Coben goes in some way to do just this. Could wise cracking Sports Agent cum Private Investigator, Myron Bolitar, treat the scene with some respect?
Myron Bolitar is sunning himself on a mystery Caribbean island without a care in the world. The problem is that he left without telling anyone where he was going and has left his clients to twist in the wind. When sociopath best pal Win turns up on a luxury yacht, it has to be for a good reason. Bolitar's other friend and business partner has been arrested on suspicion of murder. The evidence his damning; her DNA at the scene, the murder weapon found at her workplace and blood in her car. She is also refusing to talk to anyone and that makes the police even more suspicious. Bolitar refuses to believe that she is capable of murder so sets out to discover the truth, even if this means finding evidence that she did it, then hiding it!
Some writers end up in a rut of their own making and they don't even realise it. Others apparently purposely dig a trench and dive straight in. I have the feeling that Coben is one of these second types of writer as all his books follow a very similar theme - the past coming back to haunt a character. With millions of copies being sold and a name that is regularly found in the top ten lists, Coben has found his niche and he loves it. For a reader this is a double edged sword. On the one hand you know what you are going to get; a well written mystery that will entertain enough to keep you going. But on the other hand you know that the book will be pretty much like the last 5 you read.
'The Final Detail' falls straight into this trap. As a mystery, it is one of Bolitar's better adventures. There is a genuine sense of suspense, and you are unlikely to discover the culprit until it is revealed. There are also some very amusing moments in the book when Bolitar ventures into the murky underworld in pursuit of someone only to come across a group of cross dressing hitmen with stilettos heals that turn into blades. The dialogue that leads up to this confrontation is some of the best that the series has had and highlights why Coben is regarded as a good author.
However, many other elements of the book fall flat. The relationships that Bolitar has with the rest of the cast is incredibly well worn by now. His doting on his parents is tiresome and the moral maze that is Win is now plain dull. It almost feels that Coben has taken the stories as far as they can go and is dragging out as many bestsellers as he can before people realise. The plot is decent, but is far too reminiscent of many of the other books by the author. I thought for the first 100 pages that he was actually going to try a new direction, but the introduction of a past crime soon brought the story back to familiar Coben territory.
To criticise Coben's writing for being samey is almost worthless. Many people read his books because they feel safe and know what they are going to get. I myself like a good wise cracking PI, and in Myron Bolitar you have one. In fact, 'The Final Detail' has possibly the best mystery that the series has seen since the first two books. The problem is that none of the decent elements can mask the mundane feel of the rest of the book. The relationships in particular are past their sell by date and lack the spark that made them so popular in the first place. Coben took a six year rest from the Bolitar series soon after this book was released as he probably saw that he was going stale. This novel is worth reading for fans of the series, but new readers of Harlan Coben should start at the beginning, or read one of the author's superior standalone efforts.
Author: Harlan Coben
Price: amazon uk - £3.99
play.com - £5.49
My wife reads a lot of what I would call trash. She also delves into the occasional deeper book, one you really have to concentrate on, one that takes time. I, too, have books I find I have to concentrate on, and I suppose there is also a series of authors who write what she would, in turn, describe as my trashy books. Harlan Coben is part of this group, although I hasten to add that this is no criticism.
Coben has written some excellent stand alone novels, most notably being Tell No One, which has recently been made into a French feature film, and very well made, too. However, the majority of his novels feature his recurring main character, Myron Bolitar, a wise-cracking literary version of Jerry Maguire. Bolitar is an ex-pro Basketball player whose career was ended almost immediately through injury when he turned pro. He owns and runs a sports agency, and is a popular agent with a dedicated team.
The Final Detail is the latest in a series of books featuring Myron and his associates, and this one starts with him reeling following disastrous events in the previous book. It starts with him taking an unscheduled vacation in an undisclosed location somewhere in the Caribbean, but is forced to return when he finds out that his business associate and best friend, Esperanza Diaz, has been arrested for murder, and his agency is under threat of losing all its clients.
Thus ensues a typical Bolitar novel, where Coben takes us through a number of brief but effective character developments, including regulars such as Win, Byron's college friend, deadly and rich; and Big Cyndi, Esperanza's ex-wrestling partner who works for Myron and Esperanza as a receptionist (don't ask!). There is also a reawakening of an old vendetta between Myron and Frank Ache, son of the local mobster, a man not to be messed with. However, neither is Win, and the undertones of the ongoing feud is littered with stalemate as Myron and Win have a literary staring contest with Ache and his goons.
Ultimately, the book deals with high levels of conspiracy as Myron digs deep in the present and in the past to find out who exactly has killed his old friend and client Clu Haid, an ageing baseball star who has found his second professional wind. Esperanza is charged with his murder: Myron is determined to prove it wasn't her. Usually, in the Bolitar books, Coben shows us that Myron is onto a bit of winner and happens to find the truth by following his nose. However, this time, the author gives us a bit to work with. It appears that Esperanza may not be as innocent as Myron thinks. She won't talk to him, or see him!
I can't pretend that Coben's writing is literary genius: it's not! But what it does do is entertain, and highly. Not all of his books are great, but this one kept me thrilled from start to finish. I am currently 4 books in with Stephen King's The Dark Tower chronicles, but am finding it hard going, and Coben's style of writing is very easy to read. The words do flow off the page very easily indeed. Not quite like James Patterson's novels, but good enough, and it's a nice change. His books have a deal of variety, and I liken them to authors such as Robert Crais and Michael Connelly in terms of how easy I find them to read.
I highly recommend giving this book a go. It does help to have read some of the Myron Bolitar book before, but it is not essential. The Final Detail is currently available from amazon.co.uk for around the £3 mark for a new copy, and is definitely worth giving a go.
It is good to discover new characters which manage to hold your interest and in this book by Harlan Coben I have come across two such characters the only shame is that when I got this book through readitswapit.co.uk as part of a swap I did not realise that it was not the first book to feature them and therefore as the stories starting point seems to come about because of events in the previous book I felt like I was playing catch up trying to piece together past events from small sections of the story as the events in the previous book are alluded to rather than being fully explained still despite this it did not really lesson my enjoyment of this book which was an entertaining read in a non threatening sort of way, not good enough for me to want to read it again but it is good enough to want to make me read more about the characters involved.
The main character is Myron Bolitar whose basketball career was cut short due to injury and he now has a successful sports agency business in New York, the story opens with him hiding out on a secluded Caribbean island trying to recover from recent events in the company of an equally troubled woman with whom he only seems to have mind blowing sex (already you start to feel for this guy) and little in the way of conversation (it just keeps getting better). When a sail boat is spotted heading for sure Byron finds himself being taken back to New York by his long time friend Windsor Horne Lockwood (Win) a super rich psychopath who throughout the book is portrayed as a complex character with a casual approach to killing people. The basic plot revolves around the fact that one of Myron clients, a troubled baseball player, has been murdered and the police have arrested Myron business partner Esperanza Diaz for the killing.
Myron returns to New York to not only try to prove his friends innocence but also to fight for the survival of his business which is under threat from other sports agents and an upset client base following his own disappearance.
There are a couple of things that I enjoyed about this book and certainly Coben earns the praise he gets for being one of the best crime writing authors in America. This is not the first of his books that I have enjoyed and it will not be the last.
I enjoyed the character development in this book, the two lead characters are interesting and especially Win who throughout the book carries a dark brooding menace, Myron is a lot less imposing and throughout you get a feeling that as an amateur detective the emphasis is on the amateur as events tend to lead him rather then he being really proactive in the investigation. There are a number of other characters and Coben does a good job of painting a picture showing sections of society that are on the fringe. Some of these characters serve to provide touches of humour and there is a lot of banter in the story which provides some light hearted moments in the style of a Die Hard or Lethal Weapon film. My favourite character has to be Big Cyndi a former wrestler with Esperanza the descriptions of Big Cyndi (that is her name by deed poll) dress sense paint a vivid picture which is amusing.
The main strength of this book however is in the storyline, it is really fast paced with a number of plot twists and an excellent ending which although I suspected still left me guessing right up to the end and indeed the final couple of twists were totally out of the blue, this I definitely a well constructed piece of crime writing which left me wanting more.
The dialogue in this book is very strong and snappy and despite the fact that there are a number of extreme colourful characters it does retain a sort of tongue in cheek rip on reality, as a reader I did find myself believing that such characters could exist even though I would not want to actually meet any of them, even in the case of Win who is probably the hardest character to accept as being believable there is an attractive quality to his character when it comes to caring for those closest to him and in the banter that he and Myron share. His is the sort of material from which good buddy action movies are made.
Definitely a book worth reading if you like this sort of genre and I will be looking for more swaps in the run up to the summer holidays. I got my copy free through a swapping site however on Amazon copies are available new for £3.99 or from 49p in the new and used section. My copy runs to 305 pages and looks as though it might originally have been a free giveaway as there is no ISBN or rrp listed on the cover. Published by Orion Books.
Born in Newark Coben has one a number of awards for his work, Myron Bolitar was his first creation and shot his to the publics and critics attention. He has fourteen published novels and has a new release on the way. If you like fast paced crime writing then he is definitely worth checking out.
For more infor check out http://www.harlancoben.com/index.html which is a great author website.
What makes a book worth reading? Good plot? Well, yes of course that goes without saying. Detailed and descriptive scenes? Technical expertise? For me the thing that HAS to be there is good characters. Without it the plot is irrelevant. This is one thing that Harlan Coben does very well. His characters are wonderfully real and lifelike They’re as fragile and flawed as the rest of us. • The Author Harlan Coben has previously published five novels, only one previously ahs been released here in the UK, and has received glowing reviews and critical acclaim, this one, his sixth offering, is his second to be distributed in the UK (in 2000 by Hodder & Stoughton). He has won all of the three major American Crime awards (Shamus, Anthony and Edgar awards) for his previous work. • “The Final Detail” This novel again centres on his fast-talking, wisecracking New Yorker Myron Bolitar, Previously a sports star in his own right; Myron is now a sports agent (think Jerry Maguire with loads of attitude and wit). Myron is the kind of guy that pushes his luck at every turn but he always seems to come up smelling of roses. He is an emotionally flawed man (keeps putting his foot squarely in his mouth all the time), and has decided to take a break from it all and disappear on holiday to the Caribbean. His exploits (and mistakes) from his last outing in “One False Move” have obviously taken their toll on him. He can’t forgive himself for failing a friend and has taken solace in the simple pleasures of alcohol, sex and small bikinis to help him forget. His company “MB Sportreps” is as usual managing to scrape by with the few clients he can be bothered to spend the time promoting. Myron’s oddball staff (two ex-female wrestlers) add to the chaos forming around him (Esperanza “Little Pocahontas” and “Big Cyndi”). N
othing in the office is too serious to joke about. Until now that is … one of his closest friends is in serious trouble. Murder trouble, and the case against her looks water tight. Myron of course wants to help, but she doesn’t want it. In fact she won’t even talk to him at all. Oh, and someone is trying to kill Myron too …. Whisked away from his Caribbean paradise by his trusted friend (and quite psychotic at times) Windsor Lockwood III, Myron is in a race against time to prove his friend innocent. “The Final Detail” is a detective thriller of sorts but played from a slightly different angle, as no police are involved in the search for clues. Just a sports agent and his wealthy banker! It gives it a more amateurish and more genuine/realistic feel to the book. The plot is solid enough and there aren’t any points where you’ll be frustrated with it. Even the oddball character of Lockwood is believable (in the extreme). The dialogue, as in “One False Move” is superbly written, with yet more cutting remarks coming from Myron and Lockwood with the obvious bad guys they bump into along the way. The run-ins with the mafia who are running a rival sports agency are hilarious. The best thing about this novel, and the previous ones I’ve read by Harlan Coben is the humour. I’ve honestly never found someone who can write crime/thrillers that are this entertaining and so tongue in cheek. To end this review I’d like to finish with a quote from the Los Angeles Times, it’s very apt in its description of the book (but in far less words than I could ever do!) “I couldn't imagine a more appealing sports agent than Tom Cruise's Jerry Maguire until I read Harlan Coben's THE FINAL DETAIL, which features the endearingly neurotic Myron Bolitar. Coben (who gets craftier and funnier with each outing) has written the most personabl
e and involving whodunit I've read all year." • Where to get it Although the hardback retailed at £16.99 when I originally purchased it, I’m sure that this will now be available for under ten pounds in most bookstores such as Waterstones and WHSmiths. ISBN: 0 340 75140 1 Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton RRP: £16.99 The paperback version is out now and is retailing at £5.99 from a good bookstore near you … or alternatively check out somewhere online like amazon.co.uk where it’s going for £4.79 at the moment. ISBN: 0 340 75141 X Publisher: New English Library RRP: £5.99 • Author’s site There is also a website now, at the imaginatively titled www.harlancoben.com which is one of the better author sites I’ve come across so far. You can sign up for a newsletter, read his biography, reviews of the books and read the latest news on forthcoming releases. Not a bad effort at all.
Follow up to the highlt successful One False Move and again features the irrepressible Sport agent / amatuer detective Myron Bolitar.