I'm vegging today. This is the first day in the last ten that I haven't had to deal with the aftermath of two floods inside my house. The flooring will have to be replaced in three rooms, the carpet pad replaced and the carpet shampooed in another.
But, today, I'm not a homeowner or a writer. I'm a reader.
I'm a big fan of mysteries and thrillers. I love 'em. Doesn't matter how violent or how dark they are. If they're well-written and entertaining, I devour them.
My youngest brother is a sports columnist. Back in 1996, he recommended a new writer by the name of Harlan Coben to me. Coben had just won an Anthony for his first novel, Deal Breaker. He would go on to win an Edgar and a Shamus for his third novel, Fade Away. According to Coben's website, he was the first writer to win all three awards.
Coben wrote about a sports agent named Myron Bolitar who had once been a college basketball star before an injury sidelined him. Each book in the series was set in a different sport--basketball, football, baseball, golf, tennis--and included murder, mayhem and a lot of dry humor.
Coben's voice was firmly tongue-in-cheek, and the characters in his series were frequently waaayyyyy over the top. Myron's best friend and former college roommate is a wealthy investment counselor named Win--short for Windsor Horne Lockwood, III--who is most often described as psychotic. Win was one of the chief attractions of the series for me. Completely without conscience and frequently unpredictable, he is also intensely loyal to Myron.
Myron's secretary, the beautiful Esperanza, is a bisexual, ex-professional wrestler. Her tag team partner, Big Cyndi, also works for Myron on occasion, thoroughly terrorizing his clients with her bulk and her Halloween-style make-up. And then there's Zorra, an ex-Mossad assassin, who happens to be a transvestite. Coben describes Zorra thus: "She wore her '30s blond wig and smoked a cigarette in a holder and looked just like Veronica Lake after a real bad bender, if Veronica Lake was six feet tall and had a Homer Simpson five o'clock shadow and was really, really ugly."
Coben wrote seven Myron Bolitar novels between 1995 and 2001. They were published in mass market paperback and developed a loyal cadre of readers, including me.
Then Coben jumped the rails. In 2001, he published his first stand-alone suspense novel in hardback, Tell No One. From that point forward, he wrote another four stand-alone novels--Gone for Good, No Second Chance, Just One Look and The Innocent. Although they became best-sellers, my heart just wasn't in them. I wanted to read the further exploits of Myron and Win.
Apparently I wasn't the only one. Coben wrote: "Over the past six years, the one question I always get on the road is, 'How tall are you?' The answer: Six-four. But the second most common question is, "When are you going to bring Myron and the gang back?"
Well, he's done it. Last week, the eighth Myron Bolitar adventure, Promise Me, was released. The book flap reads: "It has been six years since entertainment agent Myron Bolitar last played superhero. In six years he hasn't thrown a punch. He hasn't held, much less fired a gun. He hasn't called his friend Win, still the scariest man he knows, to back him up or get him out of trouble. All that is about to change...because of a promise."
There are changes--both in format and with the characters themselves. Coben now includes the POV of other characters. This plot is not set in the sports world. Myron now represents actors as well as sports stars. Esperanza is married with a child.
In Promise Me, Myron overhears two teenage girls talking about getting into a car with a drunk driver. His protective instincts are engaged, and he makes the two promise him that they will call him for a ride--no matter when, no questions asked--if they are ever put in that situation again. Three weeks later, one of the girls does call, and Myron gives her a ride at 2:00 AM. She disappears, and it turns out he was the last person to see her.
I'm in heaven.
Off to read. Have a good weekend.