Of all the characters Harlan Coben has created in his more than two dozen mysteries, none is as popular as Windsor Horne Lockwood III, or, Win, as his very few close friends call him. Win appears as a supporting player in Coben’s numerous Myron Bolitar novels. In Coben’s newest, Win gets the title and the major role.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Win, he’s good-looking, very smart, and extremely wealthy. He’s a fighting machine, having been trained in many martial arts, and comfortable pursing his own brand of justice which, on several occasions, has resulted in injuries, even death, for the opposing party. Although he has a daughter, he prefers to arrange his sexual assignations via an elite app, with both parties engaging in the act with no strings and no recriminations.
Win is used to winning. In this outing, however, he’s on the defensive, pulled into a criminal investigation that involves his influential family. More than 20 years ago, Win’s uncle Aldrich Powers Lockwood was killed and Win’s cousin, Patricia, was kidnapped during a robbery. For more than five months, Patricia was held as a prisoner in a shack, dubbed the Hut of Horrors, until she managed to escape. Now, a dead body has turned up in the Beresford, an historic apartment building on Manhattan’s West Side. Inside the apartment is Johannes Vermeer’s painting, “The Girl at the Piano,” that was stolen when Patricia was abducted. Also in the apartment is a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. Win has no idea how the painting and suitcase ended up in the apartment. At first glance it appears the dead man is a recluse and a hoarder. Later Win learns from one of his contacts that the dead man was part of the Jane Street Six, an anti-war group responsible for killing seven and injuring a dozen in an attack in the early 1970s.
Trying to stay one step ahead of the FBI, Win dives into the past, tracking down any of the Jane Street Six who may still be alive. In doing so, however, he also unearths many secrets that have remained hidden within his own family for decades.
Win is the polar opposite of Myron Bolitar, the former basketball star turned sports agent who made his debut in Coben’s 1995 best seller, Deal Breaker. Myron and Win are the odd couple – Myron the boy scout, Win the rouge. But the two are loyal to each other and their friendship somehow works. No doubt, though, that Win’s popularity stems from the fascination fans feel watching this wealthy Robin Hood settle scores for so many who feel disenfranchised. He may cross the line, but he somehow always remains on the side of good.
With this latest novel, Coben will not only burnish his own reputation as one of the best mystery writers around today, but also increase the fan base for the irrepressible Win.