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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 19 August 2003
Harlon Coben, is for me, a recently-discovered writer and, after only one book, "Darkest Fear". This story gave me hours of delight as I allowed the outside world to be "put on hold" whilst I was led through a weave of unexpected twists and turns in this pacy thriller.
Myron Bolitar is charged with the search for an anonymous donor who has mysteriously disappeared; without this bone-marrow match, the life of a young boy is at stake. Events quickly develop into a cat-and-mouse game when a kidnapping takes place and Myron is caught up in an FBI investigation. Myron's plight in this story is made even more compelling by family links to the events as they unfold.
The book works well on two levels - one, the reader has the suspense and uncertainty of a twisty plot and two, the author puts the conflicts faced by Myron in the context of the emotional turmoil he is under due to the human relationships involved. The author has given a detailed delineation to create a believable character who is capable of carrying out a wide range of emotions and actions with credibility for the reader. There are also some excellent touches of humour in the book to add light relief to the more serious, twisty plot.
On starting the book I didn't realise that this is one of a series of Myron Bolitar stories, but it does work very well as a stand-alone novel. However, reading this story resulted in another visit on-line at Amazon to buy more of Harlan Coben's novels!
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on 1 February 2004
For anyone who has read any of Harlan Coben's previous Myron Bolitar novels this is the next in a long line of exceedingly good reads. For those who want to check out for the first time why critics and fans alike are raving about Harlan Coben then this is definitely the book for them.
Whether you have already met the characters or are being introduced for the first time, Coben makes it easy for the reader. There is always enough information for the first-time reader to follow where the main characters have come from and what they are about but never too much to put off the veteran.
The storyline has many twists and turns, not too many to confuse, but enough to make you think you've worked out what will happen next... but unless you've already skipped a few pages ahead, you will almost certainly have guessed wrong.
This is definitely a book that once you've started reading you'll find it very difficult to stop. Reach the end of a chapter, check the watch, you'll be guaranteed to decide that you've still got a few more minutes and can read one more chapter. Before you know it, it will be 2 a.m. and you still won't want to put it down!
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on 31 October 2011
I like my private investigators to look fear in the eye and reply to its threats with a pithy quip. The light hearted gumshoe has been a staple of my crime fiction diet ever since I picked up the works of Robert B Parker and Robert Crais. Another author who played with the comedic PI is Harlan Coben; before he was serious crime man, he had created and released several books starring Myron Bolitar; Sports Agent and investigator. Bolitar is a light hearted character who hides his fear under brashness and a sense of humour, however, when you are investigating the disappearance of a bone marrow donor that could lead to the death of a 13 year old boy - is comedy acceptable?

`Darkest Fear' is a transitional book for Coben as it marks his move away from lighter crime action into the darker realms that have made him an even more successful writer. When you are dealing with an evil serial killer and dying child, the idea of making jokes no longer works and therefore Bolitar struggles in this book. He laughs in the face of fear, but he also has to laugh at his Dad's heart attack, a dying child and 4 missing people. Like some of the later Elvis Cole novels, the once happy go lucky Bolitar cannot exists successfully in such a dark novel.

If a more generic alcoholic ex-cop had been airlifted into `Darkest Fear' the book would have been more conventional and worked slightly better. As it is the tone shifts from the dark to the light with each flippant remark. The story itself is an interesting one, making the book worth reading. It would be another 6 years before Coben returned to the character of Bolitar, as if he knew he was running out of steam. A decent read for the character's fans, but not great.
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on 17 September 2001
DARKEST FEAR by Harlan Coben is not only the newest "Myron Bolitar" novel, but also the first in the series that I've read. I got hooked on Mr. Coben's writing when I read his newest hardcover, TELL NO ONE, which knocked me right out of my little white bobby socks. It was so good that I decided to go back and read his previous novels, all of which center around ex-basketball player, now sports agent and sometimes private detective, Myron Bolitar. Since I tend to start backwards when beginning a new series, I naturally picked DARKEST FEAR to read first. So, go figure. Anyway, in this novel Myron discovers that he's a father. It seems that on the night before his ex-girlfriend, Emily Browning, was to marry his college basketball rival, he and she did the two-bear mambo (uh, sorry, Joe!), and the son she produced was a product of his genes, rather than that of her new husband's. Though a little shocked and surprised, Myron finds that he can deal with it. The problem, however, is that Emily's son, Jeremy, is slowly dying from a disease called Fanconi anemia and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant to live. A donor, who was a perfect match for the transplant was found, but then suddenly disappeared. Emily wants Myron to track down the missing donor. Enlisting the aid of his closest buddy, Windsor Horne Lockwood ("Win" for short), plus long-time friends Esperanza Diaz, Big Cyndi, and Zorra, Myron begins the hunt for the man who could save his son's life. What should be a relative breeze in the park for this gang of amateur sleuths turns into something deadly serious when the "Sow the Seeds" serial killer comes out of hiding to warn Myron off. Exactly what a serial killer has to do with a bone marrow donor is a question Myron intends on answering. If that isn't enough, he's also being stonewalled by the Lex family (billionaires who guard their privacy with extreme measures) and warned to desist in his attempt to locate a missing family member. Myron certainly has his work cut out for him, but with Jeremy's life hanging in the balance, he's not about to let anybody get in his way or prevent him from finding the donor. He'll do whatever it takes to save his son. I have to admit that DARKEST FEAR really surprised me. I wasn't the least bit sure that I'd enjoy it. Instead, I found myself hooked in the first chapter or two, curious as to where the story was leading, enjoying the character of Myron Bolitar, along with his wild bunch of cohorts. Mr. Coben kept me guessing right up till the end with his meandering twists and turns-first going in one direction, then switching gears and heading in an entirely different direction. I have to say that the character of Win came pretty close to stealing the show. He's definitely someone I want to find out more about. Maybe it has to do with his martial arts ability, or possibly his inability to take anything seriously. Whatever it is, I'm drawn to this rather unusual character. I'm also happy to say that sports has very little to do with the story. If your lack of interest in sports has been the only thing holding you back from reading a "Myron Bolitar" novel, then forget about it and pick up this book or one of the others in the series. The writing is excellent, the plot holds you in its vice-like grip till the last page, and the characters are some of the most unusual ones that I've ever encountered in the "mystery" genre. I'm already trying to decide whether to read THE FINAL DETAIL or ONE FALSE MOVE next.
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on 23 August 2003
I chose it although I had not previously heard of the author. I started to read on Monday and finished it by Tuesday, it is one heck of a book, you keep thinking I will just read a little bit more and then a bit more. It holds you like a vice and makes you feel as if you should be in there helping Myron out. He is a most believable character, a tough exterior but with a squishy bit in the middle. I will most certainly read more of Harlan Cobens work.
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VINE VOICEon 25 February 2008
With the Myron Bolitar series Coben manages to walk a difficult tightrope by keeping the books similar enough for them to feel wonderfully familiar but different enough so that you don't feel as if you are reading the same book over and over.

In Darkest Fear Myron Bolitar, sports agent, has to grow up a little and decide what level of involvement he wants in the life of the son he has just discovered he has - which is new ground. At the same time, he is re-evaluating his relationship with his own aging parents but this is not as heavy as it sounds, and the interaction with his parents creates some fine comic moments. As does the presence of Myron's psycho friend Win, always a welcome element in the novels. At the same time, the subject matter of bone marrow transplants and Myron's complicated love life give the novel some emotional complexity making it a rounded story, and one with sufficient depth to keep you interested.

A treat for both fans of the Bolitar series, and those who haven't come across him before. Recommended read for anyone who enjoys a good crime novel.
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on 3 January 2004
This is only the second Harlan Coben novel I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it - a real page turner! Some of the lead characters make dodgy choices, which is human nature, meaning that however sure you are of what is going to happen you can still be surprised. You may not care 100% about all the protaganists (or even like some of those you should), but there is enough story to keep you fully involved throughout. I definitely recommend this book.
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on 29 March 2004
When I was 13 (a few years ago now) I would visit the library for 'that' book, usually a Dick Francis thriller, I would get home and spend most of my weekend just reading, I had to finish the book I would become part of the story. Reading Harlan Coben's books is like being a child again, I pick up a book and can't put it down. Darkest Fear just reaffirms my belief that he is up their with some of the current all time greats! Read one and you'll be dying to read his them all. This is what reading a good book is all about, let the author steer your imagination, Coben is a great driver! You'll not regret it!
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on 30 September 2015
I’m reading the Myron Bolitar series in sequence and to be honest they've started to become a bit samey. They’re perfectly readable and enjoyable with decent bit of humour but there’s nothing new in them. You know exactly what you’re getting – a decent read but one that won’t live long in the memory.

This book dwells on Myron’s personal life when he discovers out of the blue that he is a father to a 14 year old boy who needs a marrow transplant but the only donor suddenly goes missing. The plot gets too overly complicated and even when you think it’s done it comes back for more confusion – by the end I was lost as to what had really happened.

It is nice to see more of the man that Myron is and that there wasn’t the usual pointless big fight scene and shoot out – Win doesn’t kill anyone in this! I read in another reviews that Harlen Coben took a six year break before writing the next Myron Bolitar book – I hope the break helps refresh the series and I look forward to reading the next one.
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on 31 January 2005
This is the third Myron Bolitar novel I've read and is by far the one I have enjoyed the most. I criticised the others for the over the top characters and the arrogant and violent sides of both Bolitar's and his sidekick Win's personalities.
I guess this time I knew what to expect and generally "went with the flow" when reading it and found myself enjoying the book all the better for that.
The storyline, as with all Coben novels, is a roller-coaster ride through its twisty-turny plot. In this particular plot there are probably more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese, but it's still extremely enjoyable and makes for a rip-roaring yarn. This novel also focuses on father/son relationships and has some very nice poignant moments between the various combinations of father/sons throughout the book.
As I say, by far the best Bolitar novel I've read so far but alas I cannot complete my review without a couple of criticisms.
As previously mentioned nearly all the characters in the book are far too smart for their own good. Bolitar, the main character is a smart-talking wise cracking sports agent, assisted by his assassin-like "friend" Win, who is also smart-talking and makes wise cracks. There's also Bolitar's partner, Esperanza, an ex-female all in wrestler who makes wise cracks and smart-talk. Bolitar's mother can also hold her head up in the wise cracking stakes. The list really is endless. I'm guessing what Corben was aiming for was line after line of witty comments and snappy chat but what you really get is line after line of one-up-manship and boasting which is neither funny nor clever.
Also there are still some aspects of Bolitar's character which I find somewhat disturbing. There is one section of the book where Bolitar beats up a man to gain some information, the excuse being "the end will justify the means". This section really left me cold and was something I felt completely unnecessary to plot development or the storyline. Does Corben think his readers will respect and like Bolitar any more for this?
All in all a great page-turner of a thriller, but I do wish that Coben would dump the Bolitar series and concentrate on his "one-off" books with are better even that this good book.
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