Book review: Win by Harlan Coben

Friday, March 26, 2021 Permalink

I’ve mentioned before I was a latecomer to Harlan Coben’s work. I’m not sure why that was, but I’ve certainly enjoyed his most recent books, many of which have been standalone novels. It means I’m not really familiar with his popular protagonist Myron Bolitar, though I loved my brief interlude with his nephew Mickey in Found, published in 2014.

I’m assuming our lead in Coben’s latest novel, Win, was introduced in the Myron Bolitar series and as this is labelled Windsor Horne Lockwood III #1, I’m figuring it’s a spinoff.

And that excites me because I really loved this book. I adored Win. I adored Coben’s conversational style of writing. It felt like he was writing in second person, as if Win was telling ‘us’ his story. It was engaging and funny and Win, as a narrator, is unabashedly arrogant and elitist. If the plot had been a little less coincidental / contrived this might have been a five star read for me, but instead Mr Coben will have to settle for 4.5 stars.

Book review: Win by Harlan CobenWin
by Harlan Coben
Series: Windsor Horne Lockwood III #1
Published by Century
on 18/03/2021
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1529123844, 9781529123852
Pages: 400

Over twenty years ago, heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family's estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors, and the items stolen from her family were never recovered.

Until now.

On New York's Upper West Side, a recluse is found murdered in his penthouse apartment, alongside two objects of note: a stolen Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. For the first time in years, the authorities have a lead not only on Patricia's kidnapping but also on another FBI cold case - with the suitcase and painting both pointing them towards one man.

Windsor Horne Lockwood III - or Win as his few friends call him - doesn't know how his suitcase and his family's stolen painting ended up in this dead man's apartment. But he's interested - especially when the FBI tell him that the man who kidnapped his cousin was also behind an act of domestic terrorism, and that he may still be at large.

The two cases have baffled the FBI for decades. But Win has three things the FBI does not:: a personal connection to the case, a large fortune, and his own unique brand of justice ...

The blurb here is a little misleading as the theft of the two priceless paintings owned by the Lockwood family takes place at a gallery almost eight months before Patricia’s father is killed and she’s kidnapped. There’s been no evidence the two events are linked until now. The discovery of the suitcase (Patricia was forced to pack the night she was taken) at the apartment of a dead man with the Vermeer on his wall binds the two cases together.

On top of that, once the dead man is identified, a third case is brought into the mix. It’s an old case, resulting from a peace protest in the early 1970s. A group (later known as the James Street Six) planned to burn down a hall before a USO dance. The hall was empty but their actions inadvertently resulted in bus accident that killed seven people. The six protesters fled and all but one disappeared.

And as fate (or luck) would have it, the deceased man was a member of the group; bringing together three separate, seemingly unrelated events, converging in a Bermuda Triangle like way.

It also means the motivation for the murder is murky and the suspects many. It could be family members of those killed fifty years earlier seeking revenge; it could could linked to the theft of the paintings; OR related to the murder of Patricia’s father and her kidnapping.

If Win is as addictively irreverent as he is here in the Myron Bolitar series, I’m going to have to go and read them all. He’s astoundingly haughty and so, so wonderful.

He introduces himself to readers by describing (in minute detail) what he’s wearing, ending with:

I am quite the rake.
I am also, for those missing the subtext, rich. p 2

I loved everything about his character, despite his obvious penchant for violence and retribution—not to mention his arrogance—because Coben offers us a droll and weirdly guileless man of incredible privilege who happily acknowledges that fact.

I am not a good sympathetic ear, but I try very hard to appear like one. I try to nod in all the right places. I try to look concerned and mortified. My resting face, if you will allow me to use that annoying colloquialism again, is either disinterested or haughty. I struggle thus to engage and look caring. It takes some effort, but I believe that I’m pulling it off. p 44

Because Win is our narrator, the thoughts, the words and the phrasing readers are offered are all his and he’s a witty, warm and honest host. He’s certainly one of my favourite characters—offering delicious thoughts and observations—I’ve met for some time.

However…  the unfolding mystery involving the dead man and three now-related cases meant there’s already a lot happening here. I wasn’t sure therefore, we needed the fallout of Win’s extracurricular activities. I gather Win’s ‘night tours’ and vigilantism is part of his schtick, so I understand it’s useful for newcomers (like moi) to learn that about him. But if it’s introduced to demonstrate his fighting skills and his ability to be brutally indifferent then, I’m not sure it was necessary.

That aside and the slightly subdued end to the plot, I loved Win and everything about him. And I cannot wait for more. *Makes note to get hold off the Myron Bolitar series*

Win by Harlan Coben was published by Penguin Random House on 18 March 2021 and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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