Deal Breaker (Myron Bolitar Series #1)

Deal Breaker (Myron Bolitar Series #1)

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by Harlan Coben

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Sports agent Myron Bolitar is poised on the edge of the big time. So is Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback and Myron's prized client. But when Christian gets a phone call from a former girlfriend, a woman who everyone, including the police, believes is dead, the deal starts to go sour. Trying to unravel the truth about a family's tragedy, a woman's secret, and…  See more details below


Sports agent Myron Bolitar is poised on the edge of the big time. So is Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback and Myron's prized client. But when Christian gets a phone call from a former girlfriend, a woman who everyone, including the police, believes is dead, the deal starts to go sour. Trying to unravel the truth about a family's tragedy, a woman's secret, and a man's lies, Myron is up against the dark side of his business—where image and talent make you rich, but the truth can get you killed.

In novels that crackle with wit and suspense, Edgar Award winner Harlan Coben has created one of the most fascinating and complex heroes in suspense fiction—Myron Bolitar—a hotheaded, tenderhearted sports agent who grows more and more engaging and unpredictable with each page-turning appearance.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A mystery thriller with all the right stuff, intrigue, suspense, romance and humor...Coben keeps you in suspense from beginning to end."—The Newark Tribune

"Like fellow wise-cracking P.I.'s Spenser and Elvis Cole, Myron Bolitar is great fun in the best hard-boiled tradition."—Houston Chronicle

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Myron Bolitar Series, #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.92(w) x 10.92(h) x 0.98(d)

Read an Excerpt

Deal Breaker

By Harlan Coben

Random House

Harlan Coben
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0385340605

Chapter One


Otto Burke, the Wizard of Schmooze, raised his game another level.

"Come on, Myron," he urged with neoreligious fervor. "I'm sure we can come to an understanding here. You give a little. We give a little. The Titans are a team. In some larger sense I would like all of us to be a team. You included. Let's be a real team, Myron. What do you say?"

Myron Bolitar steepled his fingers. He had read somewhere that steepled fingers made you look like a thoughtful person. He felt foolish.

"I'd like nothing more, Otto," he said, returning the pointless volley for the umpteenth time. "Really I would. But we've given as much as we can. It's your turn now."

Otto nodded vigorously, as if he had just heard some philosophical whimsy that put Socrates to shame. He tilted his head, angling the painted-on smile toward his team's general manager. "Larry, what do you think?"

Taking his cue, Larry Hanson pounded the conference table with a fist hairy enough to be a gerbil. "Bolitar can go to hell!" he shouted, playing enraged to the hilt. "You hear me, Bolitar? You understand what I'm telling you? Go to hell."

"Go to hell," Myron repeated with a nod. "Got it."

"You being a wiseass with me? Huh? Answer me, dammit! You being a wiseass?"

Myron looked at him. "You have a poppy seed stuck in your teeth."

"Goddamn wiseass."

"And you're beautiful when you're angry.Your whole face lights up."

Larry Hanson's eyes widened. He swung his line of vision toward his boss, then back to Myron. "You're out of your league here, Bolitar. And you fucking know it."

Myron said nothing. The truth of the matter was, Larry Hanson was partially right. Myron was out of his league. He had been in sports representation for only two years now. Most of his clients were borderline cases-guys who were lucky to make the cut and grabbed the league's minimum. And football was far from his specialty. He had only three NFL players, only one of whom was a starter. Now Myron sat across from thirty-one-year-old wunderkind Otto Burke, the youngest owner in the NFL, and Larry Hanson, former-football-legend-turned-exec, negotiating a contract that even in his inexperienced hands would be the biggest rookie contract in NFL history.

Yes, he-Myron Bolitar-had landed Christian "Hot Prop" Steele. Two-time Heisman trophy-winning quarterback. Three straight AP and UPI number-one rankings. All-American four years in a row. If that wasn't enough, the kid was an endorsement wet dream. An A student, good-looking, articulate, polite, and white (hey, it mattered).

Best of all, he was Myron's.

"The offer is on the table, gentlemen," Myron continued. "We think it's more than fair."

Otto Burke shook his head.

"It's a load of crap!" Larry Hanson shouted. "You're a goddamn idiot, Bolitar. You're going to flush this kid's career down the toilet."

Myron spread his arms. "How about a group hug?"

Larry was about to offer up another expletive, but Otto stopped him with a raised hand. In Larry's playing days Dick Butkus and Ray Nitzchke couldn't stop him with body blows. Now this one-hundred-fifty-pound Harvard grad could silence him with but a wave.

Otto Burke leaned forward. He hadn't stopped smiling, hadn't stopped the hand gestures, hadn't stopped the eye contact-like an Anthony Robbins Personal Power infomercial come to life. Disconcerting as all hell. Otto was a small, fragile-looking man with the tiniest fingers Myron had ever seen. His hair was dark and heavy-metal long, flowing to his shoulders. He was baby-faced with a silly goatee that looked as if it'd been sketched on in pencil. He smoked a very long cigarette, or maybe it just appeared long against his tiny fingers.

"Now, Myron," Otto said, "let's speak rationally here, okay?"

"Rationally. Let's."

"Great, Myron, that'll be helpful. The truth is, Christian Steele is an unknown, untested quantity. He hasn't even put on a pro uniform yet. He may be the bust of the century."

Larry snorted. "You should know something about that, Bolitar-about players who amount to nothing. Who crap out."

Myron ignored him. He had heard the insult before. It no longer bothered him. Sticks and stones and all that. "We are talking about perhaps the greatest quarterback prospect in history," he replied steadily. "You made three trades and gave up six players to get his rights. You didn't do all that if you didn't believe he has what it takes."

"But this proposal"-Otto stopped, looked up as though searching the ceiling tiles for the right word-"it's not sound."

"Crap is more like it," Larry added.

"It's final," Myron said.

Otto shook his head, the smile unfazed. "Let's talk this through, okay? Let's look at it from every conceivable angle. You're new at this, Myron-an ex-jock reaching for the executive brass ring. I respect that. You're a young guy trying to give it a go. Heck, I admire that. Really."

Myron bit down. He could have pointed out that he and Otto were the same age, but he so loved being patronized. Didn't everybody?

"If you make a mistake on this," Otto continued, "it could be the sort of thing that destroys your career. Do you know what I mean? Plenty of people already feel that you're not up to this-to handling such a high-profile client. Not me, of course. I think you're a very bright guy. Shrewd. But the way you're acting . . ." He shook his head like a teacher disenchanted with a favorite pupil.

Larry stood, glowering down at Myron. "Why don't you give the kid some good advice?" he said. "Tell him to get a real agent."

Myron had expected this whole good-cop, bad-cop routine. He had, in fact, expected worse; Larry Hanson had not yet attacked the sexual appetites of anyone's mother. Still, Myron preferred the bad cop to the good cop. Larry Hanson was a frontal assault, easily spotted and handled. Otto Burke was the snake-infested high grass with buried land mines.

"Then I guess we have nothing more to discuss," Myron said.

"I believe a holdout would be unwise, Myron," Otto said. "It might soil Christian's squeaky-clean image. Hurt his endorsements. Cost you both a great deal of money. You don't want to lose money, Myron."

Myron looked at him. "I don't?"

"No, you don't."

"Can I jot that down?" He picked up a pencil and began scribbling. "Don't . . . want . . . to . . . lose . . . money." He grinned at both men. "Am I picking up pointers today or what?"

Larry mumbled, "Goddamn wiseass."

Otto's smile remained locked on autopilot. "If I may be so bold," he continued, "I would think Christian would want to collect quickly."


"There are those who have serious reservations about Christian Steele's future. There are those"-Otto drew deeply on his cigarette-"who believe he may have had something to do with that girl's disappearance."

"Ah," Myron said, "that's more like it."

"More like what?"

"You're starting to fling mud. For a second there I thought I wasn't asking for enough."

Larry Hanson stuck a thumb in Myron's direction. "Do you believe this fucking sliver of pond film we're sitting with? You raise a legitimate issue about Christian's ex-bimbo, one that goes to the heart of his value as a public relations commodity-"

"Pitiful rumors," Myron interrupted. "No one believed them. If anything, they made the public more sympathetic to Christian's tragedy. And don't call Kathy Culver a bimbo."

Larry raised an eyebrow. "Well, well, aren't we touchy," he said, "for a low-life pissant."

Myron's expression did not change. He had met Kathy Culver five years ago when she was a sophomore in high school, already a budding beauty. Like her sister Jessica. Eighteen months ago Kathy had mysteriously vanished from the campus of Reston University. To this day no one knew where she was or what had happened to her. The story had all the media's favorite tasty morsels-a gorgeous co-ed, the fiancée of football star Christian Steele, the sister of novelist Jessica Culver, a strong hint of sexual assault for extra seasoning. The press could not help themselves. They attacked like ravenous relatives around a buffet table.

But just recently a second tragedy had befallen the Culver family. Adam Culver, Kathy's father, had been murdered three nights earlier in what police were calling a "botched robbery." Myron wanted very much to contact the family, to do more than merely offer simple condolences, but he had decided to stay away, not knowing if he was welcome, fairly certain he wasn't.

"Now if-"

There was a knock on the door. It opened a crack, and Esperanza stuck her head in. "Call for you, Myron," she said.

"Take a message."

"I think you'll want to take it."

Esperanza stayed in the doorway. Her dark eyes gave away nothing, but he understood.

"I'll be right there," he said.

She slipped back through the door.

Larry Hanson gave an appreciative whistle. "She's a babe, Bolitar."

"Gee, thanks, Larry. That means a lot coming from you." He rose. "I'll be right back."

"We don't have all goddamn day to jerk off here."

"I'm sure you don't."

He left the conference room and met up with Esperanza at her desk.

"The Meal Ticket," she told him. "He said it was urgent."

Christian Steele.

From her petite frame most would not guess that Esperanza used to be a professional wrestler. For three years she had been known on the circuit as Little Pocahontas. The fact that Esperanza Diaz was Latina, without a trace of American Indian blood, did not seem to bother the FLOW (Fabulous Ladies of Wrestling) organization. A minor detail, they said. Latino, Indian, what's the difference?

At the height of her pro wrestling career, the same script was played out every week in arenas all over the U.S. of A. Esperanza ("Pocahontas") would enter the ring wearing moccasins, a suede-fringed dress, and a headband that lassoed her long black hair away from her dark face. The suede dress came off before the fight, leaving a somewhat flimsier and less traditional Native American garb in its stead.

Professional wrestling has a pretty simple plot with painfully few variations. Some wrestlers are bad. Some are good. Pocahontas was good, a crowd favorite. She was cute and small and quick and had a tight little body. Everyone loved her. She would always be winning the fight on skill when her opponent would do something illegal-throw sand in her eyes, use a dreaded foreign object that everyone in the free world except the referee could see-to turn the tide. Then the bad wrestler would bring in a couple of extra cronies, ganging up three against one on poor Pocahontas, pounding mercilessly on the brave beauty to the unequivocal shock and chagrin of the announcers, who had seen the same thing happen last week and the week before.

Just when it seemed there was no hope, Big Chief Mama, a mammoth creature, charged out of the locker room and threw the beasts off the defenseless Pocahontas. Then together Big Chief Mama and Little Pocahontas would defeat the forces of evil.

Massively entertaining.

"I'll take it in my office," Myron said.

As he entered he saw the nameplate on his desk, a gift from his parents.



He shook his head. Myron Bolitar. He still couldn't believe someone would name a kid Myron. When his family first moved to New Jersey, he had told everyone in his new high school that his name was Mike. Nope, no dice. Then he tried to nickname himself Mickey. Unh-unh. Everyone reverted to Myron; the name was like a horror-movie monster that would not die.

To answer the obvious question: No, he never forgave his parents.

He picked up the phone. "Christian?"

"Mr. Bolitar? Is that you?"

"Yes. And please call me . . . Myron." Acceptance of the inevitable, a sign of a wise man.

"I'm sorry to interrupt you. I know how busy you are."

"I'm busy negotiating your contract. I have Otto Burke and Larry Hanson in the next room."

"I appreciate that, Mr. Bolitar, but this is very important." His voice was trembling. "I have to see you right away."

He switched hands. "Something wrong, Christian?" Mr. Perceptive.

"I-I'd rather not discuss it over the phone. Would you be able to meet me at my room on campus?"

"Sure, no problem. What time?"

"Now, please. I-I don't know what to make of this. I want you to see it."

Myron took a deep breath. "No problem. I'll throw Otto and Larry out. It'll be good for the negotiations. I'll be there in an hour."

It took a lot longer.

Myron entered the Kinney garage on Forty-sixth Street, not too far from his Park Avenue office. He nodded to Mario, the garage attendant, walked past the pricing sheet, which had a small disclaimer on the bottom that read "not including 97% tax," and headed to his car on the lower level. A Ford Taurus. Your basic Babe Magnet.

He was about to unlock the door when he heard a hissing sound. Like a snake. Or more likely, air escaping from a tire. The sound emanated from his back right tire. A quick examination told Myron that it had been slashed.

"Hi, Myron."

He spun around. Two men grinned at him. One was the size of a small Third World nation. Myron was big-nearly six-four and two hundred twenty pounds-but he guessed that this guy must have been six-six and closing in on three hundred. A heavy-duty weight lifter, his whole body was puffed up as if he were wearing inflatable life vests under his clothes. The second man was of average build. He wore a fedora.<


Excerpted from Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Deal Breaker (Myron Bolitar Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 291 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Take out all the gratuitously vulgar language and this book would be only 100 pages long! Too bad books don't go through a rating like movies do; at least then readers would be warned.
JerseyAngel More than 1 year ago
I discovered Coben with his stand alone thrillers. Then I heard he had a series. By some stroke of luck, a co-worker had this book and let me borrow it. As usual, I wasn't disappointed. The author has a nice way of blending humor, mystery, and interesting characters and all the while keeping you guessing. It was a little odd though because of the time difference of when this was written & when I read it. The discovery of *69 to redial a number was mentioned, nobody had cell phones but at least 2 car phones were mentioned. Otherwise, you'd never notice the difference! I'll definately be buying the other books in the series.
Vbaugh More than 1 year ago
Coben does great job of introducing the characters and getting the reader to want to know them better. Myron Bolitar is the main character but Win, his very interesting friend, is my favorite. The story is a great mystery but just quirky enough to make it fun and funny. I highly recommend this book. If you enjoy Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series or books by Carl Hiassen, you'll love the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book as are all of his books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
the reason being: this author knows how to cover bases. His writing has it all: great suspence, a main character whom you just have to love, and humor that makes you repeatedly laugh out loud. This is my first Coben novel and I found it delectable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Harlan Cobin never disapoints his fans. What he does here is he gives us real people, real human nature. NO CLEAR GOOD GUY! BAD GUY. He shows the conflict we all have. Mark Twain said, "everyone of us has a dark side that we never show to anyone." Cobin points out that fact very clearly. So who do you like and who do you relate to when everyone is tainted? I love this story. It was unpredictable to the very end. Cobin never gets stale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was awesome reading a book written back in 1995, bringing back memories of all the "new" technology then. Loved the main character with his sarcastic sense of humor and all the different twists and turns. Couldn't put it down and read it in one day. Found a new favorite author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have liked all the Harlan Coben books I've read. The Myron Bolitar series is witty, funny, and fast moving.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this author and love the Myron Bolitar series. I've read just about the whole series and can't get enough. 'Win' is one of my favorite characters. Highly recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is incredible! I couldn't put it down! I didn't want to go to work because I wanted to read this book! Myron is a sports agent as well as a 'detective' which gives it an interesting twist. I love sports but you definitely don't have to to enjoy this book. I had to start a different book after I finished this one because I couldn't get the second one at my bookstore and was very disappointed. I can't wait to read the next Myron Bolitar mystery. I recommend this book to everyone who loves crime fiction, mystery and suspense. It was truely excellent!
Refill More than 1 year ago
Completed my second reading of &quot;Deal Breaker&quot; the first novel in the Myron Bolitar series. An interesting and  likeable character there are some drawbacks in the way his dialogue is written. At times corny and unnecesarilly moral (morality is a good thing, of course, though not always entertaining), at least Myron's  intentions are good and balanced with witty lines such as &quot;he was listening to one of those Walkman clones  with the minispeakers that bypass the ears and plug directly into the cerebrum.&quot; Ultimately, a fun read aided by Myron's loyal buddy, Win (I could see how people may not like his character, but I enjoy this character who believes in a rogue justice and is always himself), there is plenty of fun dialogue to keep this mystery light while pushing the story forward. The male version of a cozy mystery, &quot;Deal Breaker&quot; earns a rating of 3.5 out  of 5.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This one got me started on the Myron Bolitar series, and I've read the next three. I love Coben's style and Win is probably one of my favortie characters of all time. Highly recommended.
Ashby More than 1 year ago
Honestly I am not one that enjoys reading that much, but when I started to read Deal Breaker I could not put this book down. Harlen Coben grabs the reader and takes him on a thrill ride that the person will never expect and hardly ever forget throughout the book. The story is filled with none stop action. Also the plot of the story twists and turns which makes you think twice about the story. The characters are people that you actually get attached to and care about as the book goes on also. This story deals with a sport agent who's name is Myron Bolitar and a rookie quarterback by the name of Christian Steele. Christian is the next big thing in the football world and Bolitar will do just about anything to keep him out of trouble and to make him money. One day though Christian gets a call from one of his former girlfriends that everyone believed was dead! After this call everything begins to go bad for Steele and Bolitar. To figure out what happens you will have to read the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read a few of Mr. Coben's more recent books so when I found this one at a used book store, I thought I'd give it a try. Am I glad I did! I found this to be a very enjoyable and easy book to read yet with a very interesting plot and great characters. I plan on looking for other Myron Bolitar books soon. I will be passing this one along to my friends so they too will get hooked on Myron.
Lpierson61 More than 1 year ago
I was in search of new writers in this genre and I stumbled onto 2 of Harlan Cobens stand alone books, Caught and The Woods. They sounded pretty good, so I decided to give them a try and I was very pleased that I had. I have just finished the first of the Myron Bolitar series and I was equally as happy with this book. He keeps his writing fast paced and believable and has some good twists and turns in each book. Looking forward to the rest of his books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have read most of the others in this them. Somehow had missed this one. I like how the books in a series are numbered now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Coben is a great story teller.
Jessica Reeder More than 1 year ago
I am hooked on this series. If you are new to harlan coben give his books a try. I doubt they will dissapoint.
Oscar Campbell More than 1 year ago
Who would think a 'sports agent' would be such a intresting chacractor. But there he is, Bolitar friend to all those larger than life BIG money making folk! Love their 'screw ups'!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Journeyman sports agent Myron Bolitar is ethical to a street-dumb degree, but a wiseacre who kept me grinning throughout, causing a few guffaws here and there. This probably should have been written in 1st person. In fact, as I read, I often was tricked into believing it was, until Corben referred to Bolitar in the 3rd person. Deal Breaker isn't just engaging narration, either. The characters are all memorable, if not striking. The backdrop is also fascinating--think Jerry MacGuire with a hard-boiled edge. The plot has all the twists you'd expect in a mystery. There are no dull sections--never was I tempted to skim. Unfortunately, Coben's worldview is the typical entertainment industry (E.I.) issue, which made his final plot twist predictable and disappointing. The killer's name was no accident, it turns out. Despite Corben's cookie-cutter ideology, his narrative voice makes this an enjoyable read I breezed right through to the end.
SEAL76 More than 1 year ago
Loved this one. I am from New Jersey where most of the action in this book is set. It rings true. I will be reading more of Coben's books ASAP.
07170131 More than 1 year ago
i am a book reader.. i love to read... i can get lost in books, and read a book that i like in like one night. i moved to nyc and didnt have a library card.. so id just go into duane reade and purchase the books by the register. i just happen to grab harlen cobens deal breaker.. and read it and fell in love. i read that book like 5 times in a row and ever since i haev been a harlen coben fan!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just a few years ago he was a top NBA prospect until the injury ended his professional career before it began. Two years ago Myron Bolitar became a sports representative that is agent of professional athletes where he remained minor league until now. He signed the hottest NFL quarterback prospect perhaps in history, two time Heisman trophy winner Christian Steele as a client though football is not Bolitar¿s expertise. Now as he negotiates a contract with the Giants on behalf of his highly regarded talent, Bolitar believes he is on his way to the big time. Myron visits a despondent Christian who had called him in a state of shock. The prospect shows him what came in the mail an ad for fantasy phone sex including the picture of Kathy Culver, Christian¿s fiancée that the police and the media assumed died. As Christian falls apart when Kathy calls him, Myron tries to keep the kid¿s career from being sacked as a scandal would ruin the Boy Scout image worth millions by investigating what happened to Kathy at the same time the mob wants him to stay out of their sex business. --- This is a reprint of the first Bolitar novel and though a decade has passed since its initial release, the story line holds up quite strongly because of the star. His inquiries seem genuine as he tries to keep a DEAL BREAKER from happening to his client and especially him as neither may ever recover if they tank now. The mystery is filled with twists and trick plays that button hook the reader, who whether a Coben rookie or a seasoned veteran will follow up with more touchdowns from this champion sports series. --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I never saw it coming!!!! What a great story, with terrific twists and turns. Harlan Coben could be my new favorite author. I always feel gratified when I finish one of his novels. Can't wait to read the rest of the Bolitar series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harlan Coben is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. His books are fast paced, thrilling and have great dialogue. Looking forward to reading the rest of this series.