"Live Wire" by Harlan Coben
Dutton, 375 pp., $27.95
Reviewed by David Marshall James
Harlan Coben writes at the top of his game in this latest novel featuring NYC uber-agent Myron Bolitar & Co., a novel that marks a major turning point for all the principal characters.
No giveaways. No spoilers. Not even a little hint.
Just the set-up-- One of Myron's clients-- once a teenage tennis ace, presently collecting on her endorsements-- seeks his help in getting to the bottom of a disturbing Facebook message, which has caused her rock 'n' roller husband to take a powder.
Thus, one of the two main plot strands is set in motion.
The other involves Myron's estranged brother, Brad; his wife, Kitty; and their fifteen-year-old son, Mickey.
Myron has never seen his nephew, nor has he laid eyes on the boy's parents since before they were married.
At that time, Kitty was also poised to become as big a tennis-tournament topper as Myron's worried client.
Doesn't take a think tank to figure out the two plot strands are tangled.
Also, Myron's parents are up from Boca Raton, staying in their old residence in Livingston, New Jersey, which Myron purchased, being sentimental about his formative years there, along with everything that has been lost by his nonrelationship with his only sibling.
Coben displays an affinity for such suburban settings throughout his oeuvre, Bolitar and stand-alone thrillers alike. Many of his characters are ordinary-- or seemingly ordinary-- suburban "types" who either find the figurative rug pulled out from under their lives, or who act way out of the norm when faced with extenuating or extraordinary circumstances.
Myron's family ties lend extra depth to this exceptionally well-paced story, as do the ties to his friends and clients.
Among his best buds are Main Line Philadelphia's answer to Bruce Wayne/Batman, Windsor Horne Lockwood III, as well as former tag-team wrestlers Little Pocahontas and Big Chief Momma, now known as Esperanza Diaz and Big Cyndi, whom we wouldn't mind seeing in her own novel-length starring role. What must her family be like? What in the world does she eat for lunch?
There is the usual quota of Coben-ian ethical questions (here, mostly regarding the preservation of secrets in any sort of close relationship, marital or familial) and highly anticipated Coben-ian twists.
Let's also give an appreciative nod to the author's sense of humor, laced with more than a trace of sarcasm.
Boy, would Bolitar love to have Coben as a client.
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