Created by Harlan Coben
One of the most entertaining 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 slip him onto this site the same way we did William DeAndreas’ Matt Cobb, Spencer Dean’s Don Cadee or any of a 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 the law (he’s a Harvard Law School grad) and a second career as a big shot sports agent, whose clients seem to habitually find themselves in 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 nineties, post-Spenser P.I. fashion, the more-or-less upright Myron has ther obligatory kickass sidekick for when the going gets tough or ethically dodgy: Windsor “Win” Horne Lockwood III, 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 “leg breaker 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 the old TV show, I Spy.
According to Fade Away (1996)
“Myron and Win had worked on cases with a special and almost contradictory nature: high profile with the need for undercover. They had been perfect for such situations–who, after all, would suspect a former basketball star and a rich, Main Line preppie of being undercover agents? They could travel in whatever circles they wanted to and not raise suspicion. Myron and Win didn’t have to create a cover; their reality was the best one the agency had. But Myron was never full-time with them. Win was their fair-haired boy; Myron was more a utility fielder Win called in when he thought necessary.”
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 paperback originals, 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, yes, the the deep, dark waters of family, relationships and the tangled lies and broken memories that shape us al) that have sold in the kajillions (Promise Me, Fool Me Once, Hold Tight, etc.).
Still, 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 is facing up to his responsibilities 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
- If you dig Myron, you’ve got to check out the Mickey Bolitar young adult novels, featuring Myron’s trouble-prone teenage nephew, first introduced in Live Wire (2011), who moves in with Myron, and seems to share his uncle’s propensity for getting into trouble.
- Then again, if you’re more a fan of Windsor Horne Lockwood, Harlan’s got you covered there, as well. In 2021, he dropped Win, a standalone (so far), featuring everybody’s favourite trust righter of wrongs.
- “If you’ve been entertaining doubts about the future of the mystery — fugeddaboutit! It’s in good hands with Harlan Coben!”
— Lawrence Block
- “Fun is fun, but the lasting appeal of this series lies in Coben’s sympathy for ordinary people who do desperate things when theyíre swept up in circumstances they can’t control.”
— Marilyn Stasio (The New York times Book Review)
- ” If these books were a meal, they would be excellent quality fast food, like burgers from In-N-Out.”
— Doreen Sherman (July 2019, Criminal Element)
IN THE (OLD) NEWS
- At one point (February 2000) according to Harlan Coben’s newsletter, Fox Television had optioned his crime-busting sports agent Myron Bolitar for a TV series. “Things are progressing nicely which means something should go wrong any day now,” Coben reported, “Twentieth Century Fox Studios hired me to write a one-hour pilot, which wasn’t as bad as having your wisdom teeth pulled out, though I may find similarities. So now we’ll see what happens. No, I know nothing about casting, though I still see Myron as Emo Phillip’s comeback role.”
- Deal Breaker (1995) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Drop Shot (1996) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Fade Away (1996) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Back Spin (1997) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- One False Move (1998) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Final Detail (1999) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Darkest Fear (2000) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Promise Me (2006) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Long Lost (2009) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Live Wire (2011) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Home (2016) | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
- WIN NOVELS
- Win (2021) | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
- “The Rise and Fall of Super D” (2006; The Innocent)
This rare short story was included in the U.S.edition of Coben’s standalone 2006 thriller, The Innocent.
- The Myron Bolitar Web Site
A website dedicated to all things Myron and Harlan. You can also subscribe to Harlan’s newsletter.
- Review of Darket Hour
Your humble correspondent’s review from January Magazine.
ALSO OF INTEREST
- “Paperback Writer” (July/August 2007, The Atlantic)
A fascinating — and candid — look at the author and his success: how he got it and how he deals with it. By Eric Konigsberg.
- Mickey Bolitar
Myron’s crime-solving nephew has his own YA series.