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By Harlan Coben

Dutton, 2006 ($26.95) Hardcover

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Fans of Coben's Myron Bolitar series can rejoice in the return of the sports agent/sleuth/crime fighter after a six year absence.Myron has been enjoying a simple, trouble-free life, but that's about to end, because of a simple promise.

Myron is involved with a 9/11 widow, and things are turning serious between them.One night at a party in his home he overhears two teenage girls, one the lady's daughter and the other the child of old friends, talking about driving around with drunk escorts.He is so disturbed by the thought of what could happen to the girls that he makes them promise to call him if they're ever in a bind like that, or in any other kind of trouble.He promises in turn that he will pick them up, no questions asked, and will not tell their parents.

Not long after this, Myron is spending the night at his rich, psychopathic friend Win's apartment in the city after imbibing a little too much himself.His cell phone rings at 2:00 a.m. Aimee Biel is stranded in midtown Manhattan and needs a ride.Still somewhat groggy, he goes to her rescue.Instead of going home, she insists that he drive her to a secluded, remote residential area in New Jersey where she claims her friend lives.She asks him not to see her into the house, a move he will soon regret.The next day her parents discover that she is missing.The police trace her phone records and discover that Myron was the last person she talked to.They also divulge that the circumstances of Aimee's disappearance are very similar to that of another missing teenager a few weeks before.Myron must act quickly to prove his innocence and to find Aimee before it is too late. As the clock ticks loudly, he runs into some Very Bad characters and has to use all the resources he and his colorful friends can come up with just to stay alive.

Along the way, Myron learns a lot about the pressure on high school students to get into the best schools, and the lengths parents will go to insure their childrens' future. He also learns that while there are dangers around every corner for young people on the verge of adulthood, some of the worst threats can be found very close to home.

This is the first of Coben's Myron Bolitar series that I have read -- I wasn't sure I'd enjoy a book whose protagonist is a sports agent -- but I see now that I've been missing an excellent series.I look forward to reading the earlier books, and especially to finding out more about Myron's friends, Win, Esmeralda, and Big Cyndi.

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