Backspin by Harlan Coben
Kidnappers have snatched the teenage son of super-star golfer Linda Coldren and her husband, Jack, an aging pro, at the height of the U.S. Open. To help get the boy back, sports agent Myron Bolitar goes charging after clues and suspects from the Main Line mansions to a downtown cheaters' motel--and back in time to a U.S. Open twenty-three years ago, when Jack Coldren should have won, but didn't. Suddenly Myron finds him self surrounded by blue bloods, criminals, and liars. And as one family's darkest secrets explode into murder, Myron finds out just how rough this game can get.
In novels that crackle with wit and suspense, Edgar Award winner Harlan Coben has created one of the most fascinating and complex heroes in suspense fiction--Myron Bolitar--a hotheaded, tenderhearted sports agent who grows more and more engaging and unpredictable with each page-turning appearance.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Backspin could send your reading enjoyment into a tailspin, March 14, 2003
from Melbourne, Victoria Australia
If ever a thriller failed to excite, this surely is it. Riddled with forced (and not particularly funny) "humor" this book grates from the first page to the last. Where the humor in Robert Crais' Elvis Cole series works and works brilliantly, it utterly fails in Coben's work. The difference is that Coben has written Backspin in the third person, whereas Crais writes in first person. When using the third person, the commentary is given far too much attribution to the author, the opinions of which have no business being stated in any work. When an author needs to express an opinion, it must only be done through the words and actions of the characters, and not the narrative. This is a basic tenet of writing (and, I feel one of many) that Coben has either never learned or chosen to ignore. There is also a huge difference in the skills of the Crais and Coben. At one stage I was wondering if Coben could possibly write a single paragraph without using the word "almost" - someone needs to instruct Coben that to "almost" acheive something is to fail. The difference that correct word usage - to say nothing of the occassional simile or metaphor - would make to Coben's work would not render a silk purse from his sow's ear, but it would at least result in something worth reading. This book shows no evidence of an editor's touch, nor even of the author performing a re-write. It is that raw. There is little or no background given to the main character, other than him being an agent for sportsmen and women. There are allusions to his having had a different career path, but this is not made clear by the middle of the book, and by then it is too late: I had given up wondering, determined to finish the book only because I had bought it. Again, contrast this work to any of Crais' pieces, and the difference is profound. Another tenet of good writing has been thrown out the window: introduce your characters and develop them. Myron Bolitar had virtually none, but Esperanza piqued the interest from time to time. Consider this: a man whose income depends upon wheeling and dealing for his sport-playing clients apparently has no knowledge or interest in one of the most lucrative sports on the planet? Add "inability to suspend disbelief" to the list of shortcomings for this book! The thriller genre need not be devoid of good writing just because it is a genre - witness Crais' work and also that of John (not Michael) Connelly. Both writers know how to please the intellect as well as excite the imagination. Their work has pace, tension, credible characters, descriptive prose, and cannot easily be put down. Andrew Klavan's superb True Crime is also in a different league to Coben's work. No, I cannot recommend this book - but take note of the authors I have mentioned and your dollar will be spent far more wisely, and ultimately, enjoyably.