It has never taken me more than two days to finish a Harlan Coben book and it was no different with his latest, Live Wire (Dutton, March 22). Myron and Win are back in another fast-paced tale that starts with a pregnant client of Myron’s, former tennis ace Suzze T, receiving an anonymous Facebook comment claiming that her husband, Lex, isn’t her baby’s father. Lex, the less famous half of a rock duo, has disappeared and Suzze wants Myron to find him and the person who posted the comment. In doing so, Myron runs into his sister-in-law Kitty, whom he hasn’t seen for fifteen years, since she and Myron’s brother Brad cut off contact with the Bolitar family after a nasty altercation. Kitty turns out to be a key figure in a complicated case that ends up with several people dead and Myron’s world turned upside down.
One of the things I like about the Bolitar series is that the characters evolve. Over the last few books, Myron has been dealing with his parents getting older and in this book the issue comes to the forefront. It’s a realistic and heartfelt exploration of what it means to face the inevitable, to have what you thought was far off arrive on your doorstep and ring the bell. Myron and Win are aging, too, with Win wearing reading glasses now, though he’s still deadly enough—if not more than ever—to bail Myron out of tough spots.
Live Wire reveals a Bolitar family history that readers had never known, introducing family members we—and even Myron, in one instance—had never met. We learn that Myron contributed to the estrangement of his brother and his sister-in-law Kitty wasn’t always the despicable person she’s become. Coben makes a bold move by drastically altering Myron’s (and Win’s and Esperanza’s) life by the end of the book, leaving our hero headed in a new direction. This change is welcome because as engrossing as Coben’s novels are, there’s a pattern developing (in his standalones, too): The protagonist receives a video/call/e-mail and now Facebook comment from someone who hasn’t been seen/heard from in years/long thought dead, which sends Myron/protagonist on a dangerous mission. Hopefully, as Myron and his friends tackle new personal challenges, they and the series will continue to age gracefully.
Nerd verdict: Strong Live