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One False Move - Harlan Coben

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Author: Harlan Coben / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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    3 Reviews
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      16.07.2009 17:22
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      Passable, but flawed

      Men do is faster, stronger and better. Sport that is! This is the argument that some people would use to explain why male based sports are more popular than the female equivalent; be it football, basketball, rugby etc etc. The unfortunate thing for people who would argue against this is that its pretty much fact. As men, our bodies are designed to hunt which means we are stronger and faster, but also that we die younger. This does not mean that women cannot be good at sports or more skilful, it's just that they have a disadvantage before they even start. What would make women's sport more popular is if we win! The women's England Cricket Team is far better known now after winning the World Cup. With all the major male sports sponsored up there is no room for new investors. However, if a women's sport was to become popular the benefits could be huge for a company getting in at the ground floor. Would these benefits be enough to kill for?

      Brenda Slaughter is the star of female Basketball in the US. She alone if picked to be the face of a new women's league being set up. However, with fame comes pressure and this is no more obvious when Brenda's Father goes missing and she is threatened. The worried league organiser is scared for Brenda, but realises that police intervention would cause bad press. Therefore, he asks maverick sports agent Myron Bolitar to take Brenda as his client and protect her. Bolitar's skills are more than just sports based as he is an ex-CIA agent who does some private investigation on the side. With a rival league on the lookout for Brenda's signature Bolitar must find her father before the opening game of the season.

      'One False Move' is part of the Bolitar series of novels by Harlan Coben that has been around for a while now. Bolitar is the quintessential modern American PI, dangerous and funny. For this reason the books are always fun to read, no matter what, as Bolitar's one liners are very good. However, in a market flooded by pithy PIs this alone is not enough. The story itself has to hold up under scrutiny and it is in this area that Coben has continually failed to do well. Whilst the likes of Robert Crais' 'Elvis Cole' novels are both thrilling and funny, Coben seems to get too bogged down in a mystery. There is also a small issue that Bolitar is such a strong lead that the other characters in the book do not get a chance; leading in this case to Coben potentially writing a criminally underused character out.

      For the first half of the book you are in a simple, but fun, crime thriller. The sports agent angle means that the book feels slightly different from other crime series and the banter between the leads is as good as always. Then the inevitable happens - the book is Cobenised. Coben is an author obsessed with using the past in the telling of his mysteries. What is happening now has always got something to do with what happened 15 years ago. This is a very difficult thing to pull off as you are constantly basing a mystery on second hand evidence. The book descends into lots of conversations with people about what they did all that time ago. Personally, I prefer to read about something as it happens rather than through a filter of time. A solid crime thriller that is trundling along at a good pace is suddenly brought to a shuddering halt as we are made to explore the motives of people over a decade ago. This is not to say that the book is still not decent at times as Bolitar is always good value in a grisly conclusion. The final act of the book stands out as a compelling action sequence; it is just a shame that we had to read through 100 pages or so of dull self searching to get there.

      With its clichés and reliance on the past, 'One False Move' is certainly not a classic. I am increasingly disillusioned with Coben as he repeats the same tricks over and over again. What makes this even worse is that these tricks are so prevalent in the crime genre that they are done elsewhere a lot better - see Crais of Michael Connelly. Despite its flaws 'One' still holds up as a fun novel because even in its most mundane sections Bolitar is a fun character who always has something amusing to say in the most inopportune moments. As long as this character remains at the focal point this series of books will still be passable reading material.

      Author: Harlan Coben
      Year: 1998
      Price: amazon uk - £6.99
      play.com - £5.49

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        28.10.2008 13:15
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        Another well written Bolitar novel from Coben

        The ever-suave Myron Bolitar is a character created by successful author Harlan Coben. Much in the same ilk as James Patterson's Alex Cross or Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, Bolitar takes the role of the hero in a number of Coben's books, and this is one such book. One False Move gives us another adventure for Bolitar, a sports agent who moonlights as a private investigator.

        Bolitar is having a successful run: his business is going well and he has just acquired the signing of the hottest female sports star around, Breabda Slaughter, albeit in a sneaky fashion. However, things aren't always as they seem, and Myron does tend to get himself deeply involved with his clients. When Brenda's father disappears, Myron goes on the hunt for him, but winds up falling foul of the Mob and struggling to get out of the deep water he's got himself into.

        Bolitar has a knack of making enemies: he's good atg it. Coben's characterisation of Bolitar makes it easy to see how this is possible: he is cocky and quite often sticks his nose in where it's not welcome. As he promises to help Brenda, this opens the doors for Coben to let loose on a crime thriller about the Mob. The possibilities are endless, but he does a good job of reigning himself in and merely giving us a solid thriller without too many complications. One False Move is full of the expected twists from such a book, but nothing here is too complicated.

        This is a very easy book to read. It is not steeped in extensive characterisation, and thus allows us to enjoy a plot without worrying too much about the characters and their particulars. However, this is largely due to the fact that the main characters in the Bolitar books have already been explained in previous tales. As such, this is probably not a good book to start with if you haven't read Coben before. It's best to start either with the first Bolitar book, or with one fo Coben's stand alone novels, which are excellent.

        The book is very well written, and I found it very easy to read. This is a trait of Coben's that I like, and I recommend this book as well as his others to anyone who likes a good crime thriller. One False Move retails at £6.99 but it is probably worth having a look in charity shops to get a cheaper deal.

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        12.12.2000 03:14
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        A lot of stinging criticism has been levelled at book clubs (most of it justified I may add) but without the pain of the four book commitment I had with one club previously then I seriously doubt whether I would have stumbled across some of the unheralded authors out there. One of those is certainly Harlan Coben. After wading through another of those monthly catalogues I was “forced” to pick a book from an unknown author. The one I picked is this book, “One False Move” which is from my favourite category Crime & Thrillers. Why did I pick this one out? One reason, it had a positive comment attached to it from Michael Connelly. He doesn’t often stamp his praise upon new work (unlike ours like Stephen King). For once, as it was a relatively unknown author the book was NOT a special club edition. Although Coben has previously published four novels in the US to critical acclaim, this one, his fifth offering, is his first to be distributed in the UK (in 1998 by Hodder & Stoughton). He has won all of the three major American Crime awards (Shamus, Anthony and Edgar awards). At this moment in time he is the ONLY auhtor to have ever scooped up all three of these awards. This novel centres around a fast talking, wise-cracking New Yorker Myron Bolitar, Previously a sports star in his own right, Myron is now a sports agent (think Jerry Maguire with attitude, wit and a hell of a lot more appeal). His company “MB Sportreps” isn’t on top form at the moment. His oddball staff (two ex-female wrestlers) are adding to the chaos forming around him (one called Esperanza “Little Pocahontas” and one called “Big Cyndi”) Nothing in the office is too serious to joke about. Myron is the kind of guy that pushes his luck at every turn but 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 now he has to
        represent an up-and-coming basketball starlet Brenda Slaughter (as her current agent has mysteriously disappeared). What’s the catch? She’s beautiful ….. but Myron’s a close friend of the family. Then her father, an old friend of Myron’s, also goes missing, and the mafia start to move in on representing Brenda. Myron isn’t alone though as he has his trusted friend Windsor Lockwood III to lend a hand (yes that is his name!!). Windsor is a bit of an oddball, and I can assure you this character is quite unique! “One False Move” is a detective thriller but played from a slightly different angle. No police are involved in the search for clues and the missing people in this one. Just a sports agent and his wealthy banker! The dialogue is excellently written, with some superb remarks coming from Myron, particularly when he has various run ins with The Mob. He justs seems to egg them on to break his legs! No pun is left untouched, even if it gets him a trip to the hospital. The novel twists and turns throughout but will keep you interested until the end. The characterisations are strong and believable. There are no superhuman people here picking up clues which no-one else could ever hope to see. Overall, it’s a funny and gripping read from cover to cover. It’s an over-used and corny phrase but I really couldn’t put this one down. I read all 322 pages in two nights (major bags under the eyes at work the next day!). I’m sure you will do the same too. Go find a copy and prove me wrong. 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: 0-340-73846-4 Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Published: June 1998 RRP: £16.99 He also has a website out now: www.harlancoben.com It's a pretty decent site, and will give you more detail on his other books, reviews, a newletter link and a short biography. Go take a peak at it and read some of the praise for his crime novels. I just noticed on here that "One False Move" was short-listed as one of the ten best crime novels in 1998 by Publishers Weekly.

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