Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Harlan Coben

Myron and Win Are Back in Harlan Coben’s Terrific New Thriller, Home


Myron and Win – we’ve missed you. Harlan Coben first created this intriguing duo in 1995’s Deal Breaker. Ten more mysteries followed featuring Myron Bolitar, professional basketball star turned agent,  and Windsor “Win” Lockwood III, heir to the Locke-Horne Securities fortune. Their last outing, Live Wire published in 2011, was intense and a deal changer with Myron facing events from his past and Win going into hiding. While Coben has turned out several other stand alone mysteries since then, fans wondered whether they had seen the last of Myron and Win. They’re back in Coben’s Home and I’m happy to report that the author and his characters are at the top of their game.

Ten years ago, two six year-old boys, Patrick More and Rhys Baldwin, were kidnapped from Rhys’ home in Alpine, New Jersey, where they were having a playdate. When Patrick’s mother, Nancy, came to pick up her son, there was no answer at the door. She assumed that Vada Linna, the au pair from Finland charged with watching the children, had taken the boys for ice cream. When Nancy returned two hours later and found the house still empty, she called Rhys’ mother, Brooke. Unable to reach Vada on her cell phone, Brooke rushed home. The two women eventually found Vada tied up in the basement and the boys missing. A ransom demand was made and the two families came up with the cash. No one came to pick up the bag which a jogger eventually found and turned into the cops. After that, nothing more was heard from the kidnappers or about the boys.

Win has a personal interest in the case since Brooke is his cousin and one of the few people in his life he cares about. Win receives an email sent by anon5939413 saying that Patrick and Rhys are still alive but “they aren’t who you think they are anymore.” He’s told the boys can be found in London, the address a seedy underpass frequented by prostitutes and drug users. Someone who seems to resemble Patrick, now 16, shows up, but three thugs also show up and appear to threaten the teen. Win dispatches the three assailants (as in previous outings, Win possesses ninja-like skills and doesn’t hesitate to use them), but during the melee, Patrick takes off. Realizing he needs help if he is ever going to find Patrick again and finally locate Rhys, Win calls Myron. After not hearing from his friend for more than a year, Myron is happy and relieved. Now engaged to Terese, the couple has been living in Winn’s apartment in the famed Dakota. But he agrees to travel to London to help in the search for Rhys.


The three men killed by Win worked for Fat Ghandi, aka Chris Alan Weeks, a computer whiz who graduated from Oxford and now “dabbles in prostitution, sexual slavery, robbery, blackmail…” Since Win can’t make a repeat appearance under the bridge, Myron takes his place, escorted by a teen dubbed “dog collar,” to an arcade where Fat Ghandi does business. Fat Ghandi claims to have the boys and will release them for a price. The money exchange literally blows up in Myron’s face, but in the chaos that follows, he manages to locate and save Patrick. There’s no sign of Rhys.

Nancy and her ex-husband, Hunter, are ecstatic and fly to London to see their son. Although their marriage fell apart after Patrick’s kidnapping, they have together raised their daughter, Francesca. Brooke and her husband, Chick, also divorced, with an older son, Clark, soon are in London, too, hoping against hope that Patrick will be able to tell them where Rhys is being held. Unfortunately, the Mores won’t allow Patrick to be questioned, saying that he is traumatized by all that has happened. That wall remains firmly in place even after the families return to New Jersey.

While Win stays in Europe, Myron returns to the scene of the crime – the Baldwin home. As Win tells Myron, they know where the trail ended. Now it’s time to go back where everything began. But doing so will prove to be more difficult than anyone expected and will uncover secrets that have been hidden away for a decade.

Coben is firing on all cylinders in this outing. The plot is terrific, the characters interesting and engaging, and  the settings come alive with Harlan’s descriptions. At the center, however, is that “bromance” between Myron and Win. The two men are very different, but still, very much alike. Myron is the big brother on hand to give support and advice (Myron continues to play that role with his nephew, Mickey, who raises his profile in this book.). And we all wish we had someone like Win to run interference when times get tough. Coben is on a par with Nelson DeMille, able to interject humor even in the most dire situations. And those laughs often come at just the right time, allowing us to relax before the next plot twist hits us in the gut.

Top photo: Bigstock

Harlan Coben

Fool Me Once – Another Page Turner from Harlan Coben


“Death follows you, Maya.”

When crafting clever plots, Harlan Coben manages to stay current and touch upon some of the fears we all have about technology and the potential harm that can be inflicted by the Internet. If some of the characters in his new mystery, Fool Me Once, seem to be pulled from the headlines, that helps to make the story more immediate and meaningful.

Maya Stern Burkett is a former special-ops helicopter pilot who was forced to leave the military after an operation she was leading in Al Qa’im, not far from the Syrian-Iraqi border, ended in the deaths of innocent civilians. Maya, an expert shooter whether with a gun or a missile, took out a black SUV that was moving in to kill two U.S. soldiers who had survived an ambush that took the lives of four others. After a video of the explosion made its way onto the WikiLeaks-like website, CoreyTheWhistle, Maya had no choice but to resign.

Although she encountered death in the military, Maya also suffered losses at home. Her sister, Claire, died after being shot, her killer never found. And when the book opens, Maya is attending the funeral of her husband, Joe, shot and killed while he and Maya were walking in the park. Maya married Joe after a whirlwind courtship and never really fit into the wealthy Burkett family led by matriarch, Judith. “There was nothing you could have done,” Judith tells Maya at the cemetery while they watch Joe’s coffin being lowered into the earth. Yet Maya picks up the undertone: Maya had saved so many in the past. Why not her own husband?

Maya’s support system is thin. Claire’s husband, Eddie has been drinking heavily since his wife’s death and resents Maya’s attempts to help her niece and nephew. “Death follows you, Maya,” he tells her, warning her to stay away.

FOOL ME ONCE coverShane served in the military with Maya and was in the helicopter with her on that fateful night. He believes that she’s suffering from PTSD and needs help. Shane also worries that the other shoe will drop when CoreyTheWhistle releases the audio of the attack creating more bad publicity for Maya.

The Burketts have been paying for Isabella to take care of Maya’s daughter, Lily. Maya, however, doesn’t trust Isabella, convinced she’s spying for Judith. So when Maya’s friend, Eileen, gives her a nanny-cam hidden in a picture frame, Maya sets it up in her home. Checking the camera one evening, Maya is shocked to see Joe with Lily on his lap. Is her husband still alive? And, if so, where is he? When Maya confronts Isabella with the video, the nanny reacts angrily and sprays Maya with pepper spray. When Maya recovers, she finds the sim card is missing from the picture frame. Without any evidence, Maya can’t prove what she saw. Did she really see Joe or is Shane right? Is she losing her mind? Maya has no choice but to investigate, but she turns up many Burkett family secrets that place her life in danger.

Once again, Coben keeps the plot spinning to keep the pages turning. And the ending, while perfectly plausible, comes as a shock. The only quibble concerns the character of Maya. Cohen has created a strong, determined woman, yet she’s, at times, totally unlikeable. Her soft moments are revealed when she’s with Lily, yet her take no prisoners attitude to avenge the deaths she’s faced means she often hurts those who are mere pawns and not worthy of the punishment she doles out.

Ok, one more quibble. Fans of the Myron Bollitar series will miss the snappy dialogue and humor that makes those books so enjoyable to read. Fool Me Once is a grimmer tale and while it may not go down as Coben’s best is still not to be missed.

Author photo Claudio Marinesco

Fool Me Once
Harlan Coben