Monday, December 22, 2008

Think Joe Pike is a Mean Sidekick?

The Famous Author and I got back from Mexico this past weekend, our annual reading trip to Puerto Vallarta. TFA brings the whip, I work with the local talent, and we all lie on the beach reading new writers until dusk, then grab a taxi into town to eat gourmet international cuisine. In fact, I'm a little hazy because of the tequila consumption, but I think I might have already blogged on how we discovered Michael Connolly. (Yeah, we're always late. A bunch of natural contrarians.)

Anyway, we got back with more than Mr. Mike and a good tan: Turns out Harlan Coben, that internationally famous, bestseller of suspense, crime, and thrillers, is another teller of fun tales. And unlike Mr. Mike, whose Harry Bosch series character hasn't won us over yet, Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar made me laugh, wince, and drop my jaw. His sidekick Win is a real killer.

Oh, boy. New characters to hang out with...

in DROP SHOT, the second in Coben's series, Valerie Simpson is a young female tennis star with a troubled past who wants Myron as her agent. Myron, who's also got the hottest young male tennis star, Duane Richwood, primed to take his first grand slam tournament, couldn't be happier. That is, until Valerie is murdered in broad daylight at the U.S. Open, and Myron's number one client becomes the number one suspect.

Myron pries open the past where six years before, Valerie's fiancee, the son of a senator, was brutally murdered by a juvenile delinquent and a straight-A student who was subsequently gunned down, his death and murder investigation squandered in bureaucratic files. And everyone from the Senator to the mob want Myron to stop digging.

The truth beneath the truth is not only dangerous, it's deadly. And Myron may be the next victim.

Publishers Weekly says, "Quirky, sarcastic sports agent Myron Bolitar makes his second appearance (after Deal Breaker), pursuing the killer of a 24-year-old has-been tennis star on the verge of making her comeback...Dry humor and a self-deprecating attitude make Myron an appealing hero, and minor characters are delineated with attitude and verve."

We liked Myron plenty. A former college basketball star, and trained in certain martial arts, Myron's tough, and his mouth is as quick as his hands. He could use a little of my help in handling females, but he does well enough. And Myron's sidekick -- a stockbroker named Windsor, Win for short -- was worth the price of a hardback.

Win is a stockbroker is the loosest of terms; that is, he sells so many stocks, bonds, and insurance policies, and has so many other brokers working for him, Win is a major force in society and on Wall Street. Somehow he finds the time to help Myron solve the murders and survive an onslaught of intended violence.

Win actually enjoys killing bad guys. Enjoys it to the point of being a psycho, really. He trains for it. My favorite scene in DROP SHOT was the confrontation between Win and three nasty men about to rape Myron's girlfriend. I won't spoil it. If you can't BUY the book, go read this scene in the library or something. Awesome.

Win rivals Robert Crais's Joe Pike in the talent for killing. In attitude, Win's a little closer to Charles Manson.

Click on the headline about Joe Pike to see Harlan's website and a scary trailer.

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