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I'm a big fan of Harlan Coben and having read/reviewed a few of his books now, I was looking forward to Live Wire. Fortunately, I wasn't disappointed. It was a book that kept me wanting to read from start to finish and one I'd recommend giving a go, especially for the lovable characters.
On the cover of this book we're told this is 'The Number One Bestseller', along with the tagline 'All families have secrets. Some will kill you', to draw us in. We're introduced to characters that those who have read Bolitar novels before should recognise; Myron Bolitar heads up a company called MB reps, representing various famous people and sports stars as an agent. He works within his small, family-close team that includes the unforgettable Win, Esperanza and Big Cindi. A mutual friend, Suzzie T, a former pro tennis player that's now all of 8 months pregnant with a rock star husband, comes to Myron for help. Rock'n'roll hubby has gone underground, apparently running off after seeing a facebook post to say that his wife's baby isn't really his. Suzzie wants to know where Lex, her husband, is, and who posted the comment, believing someone is out to destroy her.
Myron is a good friend and does as asked, tracking Lex down. However, he also spots a face from the past he wasn't expecting, Kitty. Myron has a great relationship with his parents, but things went sour with his brother and his wife, Kitty, a while ago. Why has she turned up now? I can't really say much on the premise because it gets quite detailed in a way that I don't want to give too much away. Let's just say that as Myron investigates further, it seems that there's suspicion around every corner where drugs, musicians, burly bouncer guys at clubs, revenge and family are involved. Together with the help from his MB Reps guys and gals, in particular Win, Myron is able to search for answers, but whether or not the truth is something he's going to want to know is another matter.
What I love about Coben novels are his characters. Myron and Win always come out as the protagonists, with Myron leading and Win being the amazing stand-out-from-the-crowd sidekick, a super intelligent, super rich and yet lethal kind of guy. The kind of guy you want to have your back when things get tough, which they definitely do. These two characters in particular are brought to life very vividly and they become quite charming, making you warm to them and want to keep reading about them in a way that few novels are able to do this well. Each individual character's image is built with depth, so I can picture what they look like, how they act, their personality etc, making me feel closer to them. They also stand out from the crowd as being very different. Take Win, for instance, or Big Cindi; neither seem particularly 'normal' or realistic, and yet at the same time they're believable, adding a hint of comedy to the mix. The relationships are also quite strong between characters, especially those at MB Reps, again creating a feeling and imagery that sticks in mind.
The premise wasn't really one of great detective work, but it was still a bit of a crime thriller. I can't say it was the best plot of Coben's I've read, but it was interesting enough and not one I could have guessed from the outset. I think one of the reasons it didn't seem that strong was that it was a bit slow in parts, and didn't seem all that important without anything particularly major to spark off the investigatory work. There was, however, some action thrown in, which mixed well with the web of characters and digging in to history that made up most of the premise, helping to keep the pace up.
What I also liked, as I partly mentioned when talking about the characters, were the elements of humour. This wasn't all serious all of the time because there were quips and jokes from characters that kept it light and enjoyable to read, rather than overly complex or dull. Without the characters, I would say the premise may have fell a little flat though.
There's also a quote of praise on the back: 'Another novel that will manage to raise the heart rate and serve as a relaxing treat' - Independent On Sunday. I would agree - this novel twists around mystery, suspicion, drama and humour in a way that makes it easy and enjoyable to read.
All in all, this is one I'd recommend, and fans of Coben shouldn't be disappointed thanks to the glowing all-star cast. Despite the premise not necessarily being the strongest, it was a gripping and entertaining read that kept me wanting to turn each page.
384 pages over 33 chapters plus epilogue