Live Wire employs the tried and tested Harlan Coben method of how to create a successful crime thriller. Step one – engaging personalities to play the protagonists. In this case, Coben’s much-loved Myron Bolitar and Windsor Horne Lockwood III. As with other popular fictional characters, Myron and Win’s greatness comes from their weaknesses as well as their qualities – their humanity makes them the more relatable. What is described as his “hero-complex” is Myron’s downfall, as he cannot help interfering in the problems of his clients and the wider world.
Unfortunately, Myron’s involvement not only saves a few lives but endangers some too – previous characters such as Brenda, one of his loves, have perished because of his actions. Win’s more questionable pastimes include using prostitutes (although this may now have vanished with his flame Mee becoming a more permanent presence), but his main flaw is his insistence on striking back at the enemies who have hurt himself or Myron. This puts the duo in some dire situations.
The second step of the Coben method is to introduce some truly violent and dislikeable villains (usually ones with a distaste of Myron and Win’s humour). In Live Wire’s case, the criminals, and crimes, are as diabolical as ever, but it would be a spoiler to reveal who they are of course. Finally, the third step of the Coben method is to form a plot which begins with one small occurrence, but then multiplies – events, and people, becoming linked which you never believed could. The twists and turns are such that most readers, unless ridiculously talented in foresight, gasp as they turn the last few pages and discover the truth.
Live Wire follows the formula flawlessly. The event which prompts Myron’s involvement this time is deceptively simple – a post on his client Suzze T’s Facebook page which states “Not His.” Former tennis “wunderkind” Suzze is happily married to musician Lex Ryder, one half of the phenomenon of HorsePower, and expecting her first child. After Lex disappears, Myron – who is agent to both Suzze and Lex – begins to investigate the hurtful post with a little help from sidekick Win (and Coben regulars Esperanza Diaz and Big Cyndi).
The culprit is later revealed, but by that time Myron and Win have already been sucked into a dangerous mystery which involves Lex’s reclusive bandmate Gabriel Wire and Myron’s own brother. The novel is as exciting as ever, but new elements help to give it a different dimension. Myron and Win are both beginning to realise their own mortality, and this provides touching moments.
We also meet Myron’s nephew Mickey, which allows Coben to delve into the divide between Myron and his brother that we never knew existed. The author has announced that he is to release a series of books for young adults with Mickey as the central character, so, although Myron will probably feature, it looks like it may be the end of the Myron-Win show. Which is definitely a cause for sorrow.