Darkest Fear: A Myron Bolitar Novel
Reviewed by Mike Shea, Fri., June 23, 2000
Darkest Fear: A Myron Bolitar Novelby Harlan Coben
Delacorte Press, 336 pp., $23.95
Harlan Coben takes his sweet time revealing exactly what is the darkest fear. And the mounting suspense renders the inevitable moment of revelation that much more chilling in this seventh installment of the series featuring Myron "I'm not a detective" Bolitar. Coben's likable hero is an agent who pimps pro athletes; he's not only witty, honorable, and resourceful, but also handy with a mystery. Which is, of course, why you'll find this in the fiction shelves.
Darkest Fear's plot is intriguing, though more than a bit labyrinthian -- it involves a 13-year-old New York City boy diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a fatal blood disease. A marrow transplant will save his life, and a potential donor (an extremely rare blood match) has been located in East Orange, New Jersey, but then the donor disappears and can be neither identified nor located for reasons of medical confidentiality. When Bolitar finally extracts a name and address, the true donor's identity changes from hour to hour and the truth becomes more elusive than mercury skidding around a tabletop.
As is often the case, the investigation runs head-on into a brick wall constructed by the power-and-money set to protect their privacy and vested interests in who-knows-what. The white hats employ a truth-seeking methodology that would most certainly get them booted out of the Eagle Scouts if the troop leader got wind of it. When the crime-busting fun begins, Myron Bolitar, true to form, is worth his wit in gold. He is the complete, wise-ass detective package replete with more colorful friends than Beach Party Barbie. From his reptilian lawyer-cum-martial-arts-brutalist Win Lockwood III to his patently gorgeous and sexually, uh, catholic assistant Esperanza, they're as entertaining a gaggle of sleuths as any the genre has seen in, well, ever.
Harlan Coben is smooth and versatile, and his dialogue hums and throbs with character. His latest is a veritable three-ring circus of a novel -- over here the tension and drama of a high-wire walker and over there the action and derring-do of a trapeze artist. And there's always the clown car to send 'em home happy. Though Darkest Fears creeps around in deep psycho territory, a hearty punch line is Myron's raison d'être. Coben can set up 'em and knock 'em down as good as the best of 'em and better than the rest of 'em.
Harlan Coben will be at BookPeople on Friday, June 23, at 7pm.