I haven’t written a book review for ages on Petrona; even though I have read quite a few books recently, I haven’t been able to find the time, motivation or inspiration to write about any on this blog.
On the train coming home from work tonight I finished Promise Me by Harlan Coben. The book is typical of this author: it is one of his Myron Bolitar novels as opposed to one of his "stand alones" (as they seem to be called). Myron is a sports agent who always gets involved in some crime or other. Luckily for me, he has apparently decided to move from sports representation into representing other types of people; in this book a movie actor but maybe in future books I’ll get even luckier and it will be authors or editors (do editors have agents?).
Not that the sports aspects of the Myron books ever get in the way of the plot. Myron is an ex-basketball almost-star who lives with his parents in New Jersey, has one of those friends (Win) who is incredibly rich and has nothing better to do than be there whenever needed, use his formidable fighting and shooting skills to get Myron out of any sticky situation going, chase up baddies, etc. There are also a few other regulars, such as Esperanza the ex-wrestler ("Little Pocahontas") receptionist, and long-term problem-girlfriend Jessica.
Promise Me starts with Myron asking Aimee, the teenage daughter of a friend, to phone him if she’s ever in trouble. As befits the usual formula for this author, a couple of weeks later Aimee does just this, then promptly vanishes after Myron gives her a lift to a house that the girl says is where her friend lives — cue general suspicion of Myron and a request from the girl’s mother to find her. Over the next day or two, Myron tracks down what happened, unearthing a sordid collection of characters and motives. The unravelling of the mystery is done with the usual Coben pace and panache, for which the reader can forgive the author for the rather smug and formulaic interactions between Myron (who thinks so much of himself) and Win (even more so).
Again as is usual with Coben, the denouement is unconvincing. The house of cards set up as the book unfolds is so clever and tortuous that the solution to the mystery just can’t live up to the build-up. Never mind, the book is a racy, easy read — just the thing for blocking out commuter train misery.
Oh, and if anyone wants my copy of the book, let me know. I bought it for £1 in the Macmillan’s staff book sale; it is a large-format paperback, now somewhat battered from its several journeys in my old briefcase.