Harlan Coben's
auspicious first mystery
released in hard cover

''Deal Breaker''
By Harlan Coben
(Delacorte Press, 339 pp., $24)
Buy at Amazon

Reviewed by John Orr
July 2006

''Deal Breaker'' by Harlan Coben is Harlan Coben's first novel, originally published in paperback, in 1995. It introduces Myron Bolitar, the sports agent with a big heart, a bad knee and a very good friend named Windsor Horne Lockwood III, aka Win. This story involves a football player, a girlfriend who may be dead and a blackmail plot. The Bolitar series went on for seven excellent novels, then Coben took a break to write five stand-alones (a couple of which are brilliant), then recently came back with another Bolitar book, ''Promise Me.'' Coben's first, ''Deal Breaker,'' is astonishing for a first novel. No weaknesses -- all the meat on them bones is cherce, as Spencer Tracy said (about Katharine Hepburn). Coben fans may well want to start the series again in hardcover; no doubt their paperbacks are getting a little dogeared by now.