It seems as if Harlan Coben came out of nowhere several years ago,
publishing a series of memorable and increasingly successful
stand-alone novels that have deservedly earned him a permanent
place on the must-read lists of legions of readers. What isn't so
widely known, however, is that Coben's earliest work consists of a
quartet of novels featuring a former basketball player turned
sports agent named Myron Bolitar. Coben's latest effort, PROMISE
ME, brings his career full circle, reintroducing Bolitar in a
setting reminiscent of Coben's most popular novels.
One need not have read Coben's early Bolitar works --- DEAL
BREAKER, DROP SHOT, FADE AWAY, BACK SPIN, ONE FALSE MOVE, THE FINAL
DETAIL and DARKEST FEAR --- in order to appreciate PROMISE ME.
Coben does an admirable job of bringing latecomers up to speed
regarding Bolitar and his fine supporting cast, not the least of
whom is Windsor Horne Lockwood III. Win, in fact, is interesting
enough that he could easily carry a book all by his lonesome. But
PROMISE ME is Bolitar's vehicle, and a fine one it is.
The book begins with Bolitar having a conversation with two
teenaged girls at a party, in which he extracts a promise from them
that if they are ever in trouble, they will call him. His promise,
in return, is that he will come and get them, no questions asked. I
could go on forever about the whys and wherefores of how this came
to be, but it would be more fun for you to read about it yourself;
if you've encountered Bolitar before, you're more than halfway
there. Suffice to say that one of them takes Bolitar up on his
offer and promptly disappears. The police trace the girl's last
appearance back to Bolitar, which naturally causes him endless
difficulties. Of particular interest to the police is the fact that
the girl's disappearance eerily parallels that of another young
woman some weeks previously.
Needless to say, things don't look good for Bolitar. He feels
duty-bound, however, to find the girl who called him, not only to
clear himself in her disappearance but also to fulfill his own
promise to her. Win, of course, is there to help, as the plot takes
some weird and seemingly inexplicable twists and turns between two
disappearances that are eerily connected in some ways and not
related at all in others.
PROMISE ME chugs right along on all eight cylinders with nary a
misfire from first page to last. Coben has indicated that he wrote
this book with the thought of topping his previous works (not an
unusual goal for a writer, to be sure) while penning a novel that
was, in his words, "uniquely Myron." As Coben fans new and old will
happily discover, he has succeeded. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011