Coming new to an established series happens more often than you might think to book reviewers, and so it is with this book. It has taken me ten previous novels to catch up with Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar. You may have been there from the beginning, which was in 1995 with Deal Breaker, and if so, bear with me for a moment. Myron Bolitar is a forty-something former top basketball player, whose career was cut cruelly short when his knee was ruined in an on-court incident. He used his sporting fame to start up an agency representing sports stars, but later expanded his client base to include other celebrities.
Home starts with a metaphorical ‘bang’ in the form of a very literal ‘slash’. The as yet un-named narrator is in the insalubrious London district of King’s Cross and we know only that he is searching for two missing boys, abducted from their American home ten years since. They were six at the time, but our narrator has been given an anonymous tip that one of them is now working as a rent boy in London. The boy seems appears to be plying his trade in a city underpass, along with a variety of other bodies for sale. When the teenager is attacked by three street hoodlums, the narrator intervenes. With a cut-throat razor. The teenager, however, escapes into the hurly burly of King’s Cross railway station, complete with its Harry Potter and Hogwarts connection.
Three dead bodies, and a ‘phone call later, we learn that we have been listening to the voice of Windsor Horne Lockwood III, a billionaire playboy, with a psychotic streak. ‘Win’ is the long term best friend of Myron Bolitar, and related to one of the missing boys. We soon meet Myron himself, as he is recovering from a bout of energetic sex with his fiancée, Terese, in Win’s New York apartment, which is in none other than the celebrated Dakota building.
Patrick Moore and Rhys Baldwin were on a ‘playdate’ at Patrick’s home, in the care of the Moore’s Finnish au pair, when masked men burst into the house, overpowered and tied up the young woman, and made off with the two boys. That is the history. The present? Myron is summoned to London to add his investigative skills to Win’s savagery. After some spectacular rough and tumble involving a larger-than-life human monster called Fat Gandhi, Patrick Moore is rescued and brought back to New Jersey.
That, however is very far from that. Patrick is restored to something resembling the home he was snatched from a decade earlier, but what of Rhys? Win and Myron begin to smell a rather malodorous rat, and there are more questions than answers. What does Patrick remember of the fateful day? Is he actually Patrick, or is there some scarcely imaginable scam being carried out?
Myron finally learns the the truth about the the two boys, but you may well share the former basketball ace’s bafflement along the way. Eventually, Coben lets him into the secret with a dazzling and totally unexpected revelation, rather than having him painstakingly gather evidence. I didn’t see the solution coming, but when it did, it was like being hit by a train.
This is a brilliant tale, and will be all the more dazzling to anyone like myself who is new to the series. Having yin and yang partnerships is nothing new in crime fiction, but it can seldom have been more audaciously used as with Coben’s sweet and sour pair. Win provides an unlimited supply of violence to complement Myron’s empathy and compassion. The closest comparison I can think of is that of the wise-guy persona of Robert B Parker’s Spenser, and his lethal friendship with the implacable Hawk. Home is one of those books that may well grab you by the throat and keep you mesmerised until you have reached the last page. Dogs will go unwalked. Pans will boil over on the stove. ‘Phones will go unanswered. You have been warned.
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