Created by Harlan Coben
One of the most enduring series to pop out of the nineties features mild-mannered amateur sleuth (and former FBI investigator) sports agent MYRON BOLITAR, a man who by all rights shouldn't even be listed on these pages.
What can I say? Nope, he's not a private eye in any traditional sense, but in the act of protecting and defending his clients' interests, he ventures into some pretty familiar gumshoe turf. Call him a troubleshooter, then, and let's squeeze him into this site the same way we did William DeAndreas' Matt Cobb, Spencer Dean's Don Cadee or any of host of other honourable exceptions. And the fact that Myron's smart-ass exterior hides a heart of pure mush makes him an even more appealing character.
A star college basketball player whose knee injury prevented him from turning pro, Myron turned to Harvard Law School grad and a second career as a big shot sports agent, whose clients seem to habitually get into some rather peculiar jams. The novels all take place in the sports milieu, offering behind-the-scenes peeks at some of the seedier aspects of that world, from merchandising to drug abuse. Even Myron seems to be addicted to some fiendish chocolate substance... Yoo-Hoo!
And, in true 90's P.I. fashion, the more-or-less upright Myron has a kickass sidekick for when the going gets tough or ethically dodgy: Win, a dapper, WASPy type who looks like he just stepped off the cover of GQ. But don't let that fool you. Imagine Spenser's Hawk, if he looked like Niles on television's Frasier.
Unlike Hawk, though, Win has a slightly more legit job (or at least a better front) than "legbreaker for the mob" -- he's the "number one producer" at Lock-Horne Securities on Park Avenue. In fact, Myron rents office space from Win for his own company, MBSportsReps (the MB stands for Myron Bolitar). As well, Win manages the investments of Myron's clients.
Myron met Win when they both attended Duke and were recruited by the FBI, and served as undercover investigators, in a twist right out of I Spy.
According to Chapter 19 of Fade Away (1996)
Besides Win, he relies on Esperanza, his saucy business associate. A gorgeous Latin woman, "Esperanza had been spotted by a modeling scout when she was seventeen, but her career took a few weird turns and she ended up making it big in the world of professional wrestling, where she'd been known as Little Pocohontas, the jewel of the Fablulous Ladies of Wrestling (FLOW) organization."
Also helping out occasionally, though often against his will, is NYPD homicide detective Roland Dimonte, Myron's reluctant police contact. Uncouth, sloppy, politically incorrect, he has the fashion sense of ...well, I'll let you decide: "He was out of uniform, but you wouldn't ever call him 'plainclothes.' He wore a green silk shirt and jeans that were too tight and too dark blue. The bottoms were tucked into purple snake-skin boots; the color faded in and out with any angle change, like some psychedelic Hendrix poster from the sixties. Dimonte gnawed on a toothpick, a habit he picked up, Myron surmised, when he spotted himself doing it in the mirror and decided it looked tough."
Jessica Culver is Myron's on-again/off-again girlfriend. She's a gorgeous woman and a famous writer who flits in and out of Myron's life, usually with disastrous results.
And, of course, there's Myron himself, who has more quirks up his sleeve than a dog has fleas. I mean, how many kick-ass detectives still live with their parents? In the basement, no less? A fun series, winner of various Edgar, Shamus and Anthony awards, which started as PBO's, but quickly graduated to hardcover, with plenty of dry humour, right-on wisecracks , swash-buckling rescues and tilt-a-whirl plotting.
And then, somewhere around One False Move (1998) things began to change. Myron got a place of his own (at the ripe old age of thirty-four), and started what looked like a serious relationship, while the next year's The Final Detail (1999) dialed down the humour and action even more, focussing more on characters and decidedly more adult relationships.
But even that couldn't prepare us for Darkest Hour (2000), a gamechanger in so many ways. If the previous books had dipped a toe into the waters of the past, this one dived in head first, and submerged itself in the deep, dark waters of family, relationships and the tangled lies and broken memories that shape us all. At the time it seemed like the final book in the series, because the next novel from Coben, Tell No One, was a Myron-free standalone thriller that began a long string of surprisingly domesticated suburban noir one-offs (full of lost children, missing parents, straying spouses and lies, lies, lies) that have sold in the kajillions (Promise Me, Fool Me Once, Hold Tight, etc.).
But somehow, every few years, Coben brings Myron back, and so the series has progressed, in fits and starts. Myron's moved on and semi-settled down, and facing up to his responsibilites and obligations. And occasionally his own mortality. But hey, that doesn't stop the big-hearted doofus (and Win) from leaping into action to defend his friends and family (and clients), no matter the cost.
BY THE WAY
-- Lawrence Block
-- Marilyn Stasio, The New York times Book Review
IN THE (OLD) NEWS
This rare short story was included in the U.S.edition of Coben's standalone thriller, The Innocent.
A website dedicated to all things Myron and Harlan. You can also subscribe to Harlan's newsletter.
Myron Bolitar himself is interviewed by Gary Shelton, the popular sports columnist at the St. Petersburg Times. Find out what Myron has to say on a variety of topics, including his big date with Tonya Harding. Only thing though, is this this Shelton guy spoils the ending to Darkest Fear. Someone should tell him not to give away endings.
Your humble correspondent's review from January Magazine.
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