Pros: An intriguing mystery, with a pinch of humor tossed in.
Cons: Some readers might not enjoy certain scenes in this book.
Absolutely delightful. That's how I would describe Myron Bolitar, the main character in Harlan Coben's Deal Breaker. In fact, this is the debut novel for Myron, who would go on to "star" in 7 more books. Myron is an ex-FBI agent, now sports agent, dabbling in private investigative work on the side. 31 years old, and still living with Mom and Dad, this lovable character made me laugh right out loud with his many one-liners.
In this story, Myron has just hooked himself a huge client - first NFL draft pick Christian Steele. Christian is the all-American dream boy - a hugely talented "good guy". Or is he? 18 months ago his girlfriend Kathy disappeared, and is presumed dead. Myron knew Kathy, as he used to date her sister, Jessica. Now, just when things should be going well for Christian, bizarre clues start turning up, making it look like Kathy just might still be alive somewhere. Myron puts himself on the case. Along with his friend Win, Myron won't rest until he finds out what really happened to Kathy. Along the way, he'll dig up a family's deep dark secrets, and discover that there's a whole lot more to Kathy's disappearance than anyone ever thought.
I liked the fact that Myron really has two lives. Sports agent by day, investigator by night. The two careers tie together well, in this novel. We get a glimpse into the world of the sports agent, seeing some of the more ruthless aspects of that career. Myron, himself, is a decent, honorable man, but he has to put up with people who are driven far more by greed, than by any code of honor.
I really enjoyed the humor in this book. It's rare that I literally laugh out loud while reading, but I did so several times with this one. Myron comes up with one-liners that would fit right into a comedian's act. Much of the humor is directed towards his parents. They treat Myron the same way they always have, after all, he's still their son. It doesn't matter how old he is, they still want to know what time he'll be home, who he's going out with, etc. I guess when you're a full grown adult, who never moved out of your parents house, you need to find humor in the situation, or you might get a bit down on yourself.
The other time Myron makes me laugh, is when he's faced with extreme danger, but still manages to toss out the one-liners. Not that his humor stopped the guy who wanted to pound his face in at that moment. But at least Myron gets a good zinger in, just before his nose stops the other guy's fist.
Of course, all the humor in the world, isn't enough to make a mystery novel good. The mystery, itself, has to be intriguing. In this case, it definitely is. I absolutely wanted to find out what really happened to Kathy. And what secrets Kathy's mother is holding onto so tightly. And what part, if any, did Christian have in Kathy's disappearance. With lots of surprises along the way, and chapter-ending cliff hangers that make it impossible to go to sleep at a decent hour, this book was a definite "page-turner".
The characters are well drawn, if a little silly at times. Win is smart, wealthy, and an expert in martial arts. Looking like a harmless college professor, he surprises anyone who dares get in his face. He's a great friend to take along with you, if you're going to dig around in places that big, strong people prefer you keep away from. But don't ever get on his bad side!
The only problem I see with this book, is that some readers will be uncomfortable reading certain parts of it. Parts of the investigation will take the reader into the world of pornography, and there's a very horrifying rape scene. If these scenes will make you uncomfortable, then keep away. But otherwise, this is a very enjoyable book, and I look forward to more Myron Bolitar novels.
Also by Harlan Coben:
No Second Chance
The Final Detail