After a long but tiring vacation trip out west, I found myself unwilling to delve into the Serious book I’d brought, so at the Palm Springs airport — a curious place, to be sure; its interior is mostly outside — I bought a random airport thriller.
I chose it against my better judgement, because it was by Harlen Coben. I’ve read him before, and even written about it here; his first Myron Bolitar book was pretty much derivative crap that I’m sorry I spent time on.
Even so, his book was the least stupid looking option on the shelf, so that’s how I ended up reading Win. Spoiler: I couldn’t put it down, and read the whole thing in our flights back from California. The titular Win is Windsor Horne Lockwood III, a side character from Coben’s Bolitar series.
In my prior post, I noted how slavishly Coben apes the superior work of Robert Parker. His hero is a Spenser-type character, surrounded by a Spenser-type supporting cast. Instead of Susan, he has his own improbably attractive and brilliant girlfriend. And instead of the wonderful Hawk, Bolitar’s morally-flexible unstoppable badass partner is Windsor Lockwood — a visually slight, obviously patrician scion of a hugely wealthy family who has, of course, done Sekrit Agent work or whatever, and steps into the fray when ugly things need doing.
But, sue me, those sorts of characters are kind of my kryptonite, and a book with Win as the main character seemed like it might be fun. And it was! Like I said, I read it in essentially one sitting.
This gave me a thought: Had I misjudged Coben? Should I sample him again? I mean, in the interest of Science and all that, of course. So I went over to our local mystery bookshop and picked up another Coben: Fool Me Once, from 2016.
SWEET JESUS THE STUPID IT BURNS.
Fool Me Once is an absolute shitshow of a book. It was hard to finish. It’s stuffed with unearned turns of events and a grossly insulting ending that should have earned Coben a public shaming. Jesus, it’s terrible.
so yeah: skip Coben. Win might be fine, and I guess if he returns to Lockwood I might sample it — but from the library; no way I’m paying MONEY for this guy’s stuff again.