Fade Away by Harlan Coben

July 28, 2010

fade away Plot summary (with spoilers): Harvard Law graduate turned sports agent Myron Bolitar once again finds himself embroiled in a murder mystery. This time, however, he walks into the case with his eyes open, having been hired by Clip Arnstein, the GM of the New Jersey Dragons basketball team. One of Clip’s star players, Greg Downing, has gone missing. Downing has always been sort of a head case, so that event in itself isn’t a big deal. But this time Downing has been gone longer than in any of his previous disappearances, and with the team so close to the playoffs, Clip is understandably on edge. He believes that Downing’s teammates might know where Greg is, but they won’t talk to an outsider. So Clip hires Bolitar to play for the Dragons, get close to the team, and find Greg.

Myron is stunned at first. After all, Clip was the man who drafted Myron in the first round for the Boston Celtics. But then Myron blew out his knee in an exhibition game, thereby ending his career forever. Now he’ll finally get to achieve his dream of playing in the NBA — albeit under very strange circumstances. He accepts the case.

Best friend Win and assistant Esperanza are less than thrilled at the prospect. They knew how much basketball meant to Myron and how it destroyed him when he learned he couldn’t play anymore. They don’t want to see Myron go through this charade because they don’t think he can handle it being a charade. But he convinces them to help with the case anyway.

During the course of the investigation, Myron and Win slowly uncover bits and pieces of Greg’s history as well as recent goings-on in his life. They start to cobble together a few different theories about what might have happened to the superstar, but none of the theories make much sense. The stakes are raised when the marks of a crime scene are found in Greg’s basement and the dead body turns out to be a woman he knew.

The plot takes a few twists and turns before the full story becomes clear. The woman, Carla (aka Liz Gorman), had been involved in a bank robbery in Arizona. Part of the haul included an audiotape from a safe deposit box. On the tape, Greg Downing and another player are heard, with Greg paying the other player $10,000 to deliberately injure Myron. Carla thought the tape could be used to blackmail Greg, so she got in contact with him. Once he realized the tape could leak, he went into hiding. Then Greg’s girlfriend, a sports reporter, killed Carla to protect Greg. Myron and Win figure everything out by the end and bring everyone to justice.

Liked:

  • This was another quick, easy read from the Myron Bolitar series. Sometimes there’s nothing better than light entertainment!
  • Myron and Win are definitely growing on me as characters, as it’s obvious that Coben is honing and refining them as the series goes along. There weren’t quite so many smart-ass remarks from them this time around, which made the dialogue more believable and made it funnier when the two did crack jokes. And Win didn’t come off as quite so much a Superman caricature in this one, which is progress in the right direction.
  • The case was very twisty, and even though it was rather far-fetched once all the details were unraveled, at least it kept me guessing throughout.

Disliked:

  • Come on, Myron getting put on an NBA team in the middle of a playoff run just because the coach “really liked him” and wanted him to realize that his knee was blown for good? That was about as stupid a plot point as they come. And to have Myron actually get in a couple games and score points? Oh, puhleeze!
  • That whole blackmail-murder scenario seemed like a stretch. Those are some pretty damn extreme actions for over an audiotape about an assault that took place 10 years ago. But I guess if a professional athlete thought his career and millions of dollars were in jeopardy, maybe things would unfold like this. Just maybe.
  • The Big Cindy stuff was ridiculous and made it seem like Coben was trying too hard to be funny. I could have done without that.

Rating:
Overall, I thought Fade Away by Harlan Coben was an average mystery novel. It featured good characters and the plot kept me guessing until the end, but it wasn’t a page-turner by any means. An average book gets an average rating of 3 stars out of 5.

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