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by Harlan Coben
Delacorte, August 2007
310 pages
ISBN: 0385342101

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Myron Bolitar was on the fast track to basketball stardom – two championships at Duke University, covers on SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, and first round draft pick by the Boston Celtics. The dream, however, died when a knee injury in a pre-season game ended his basketball career. After Harvard Law School, and a stint in the FBI, Myron has set up as a sports agent.

One of his most promising clients is a young black man, Duane Richwood, who never had a formal tennis lesson and learned to play on the streets of New York. While Myron and his sidekick, Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III), described as an antagonistic policeman as a "yuppie psychopath", are watching Duane in a match at the US Open, shots ring out.

The victim is Valerie Simpson, who was a tennis prodigy as a teenager, all but washed up at 21, and trying to make a comeback at 26. Myron feels a responsibility to find her killer, since she had been trying to reach him by phone for several days, imploring him to represent her.

Myron is sure that there is a connection between Valerie's murder and the murder, six years ago, of her fiancé at an exclusive suburban tennis club. The alleged murderers were two black men, Curtis Yeller and Errol Swade. Yeller was shot and killed, while Swade escaped, disappeared, and is presumed dead.

In his search for Valerie's killer, Myron (with Win's help) must deal with both Valerie's former coach, Pavel Menansi, who, it turns out, physically abused her and several other young female players, and Ned Tunwell, a representative of Nike, whose career in sports advertising tanked when Valerie had a nervous breakdown after the death of her fiancé, an event that all but ended her career. Ned sees Duane as his road back to the top. Also in the background are the Ache brothers and their mafia cohorts, who run one of the country's top sports agencies – with very questionable tactics.

Coben is a master of both characterization and plot. Like Myron, the reader doesn't know whether to applaud or despise Win, who, however unexpected, always turns up in the nick of time, prepared to shoot or sabotage. Esperanza, Myron's secretary/associate, is a hoot; once Little Pocahontas, on the women's wrestling circuit, she now devotes herself to less physically taxing work and distributes her sexual favors to both men and women.

The only character who remains a mystery is Jessica, Myron's love interest. She is supposedly a best-selling author, but we never have any idea what she writes. Duane Richwood is indeed an enigma – out of the ghetto to tennis stardom, his identity always hidden behind sunglasses.

One could not ask for a better plot. Myron tenaciously follows one lead after another, from the society types of Win's world in Philadelphia to the projects of New York, to suburban New Jersey. Not a word is wasted, as Coben leads the reader to a really astonishing ending.

Reviewed by Mary Elizabeth Devine, January 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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