Source: Review copy
Publication: 18th March 2021 from Century
My thanks to Century Books for an advance copy for review
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.
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 …
I could not believe it when I realised what the title of this new thriller from Harlan Coben refers to. I read everything Coben writes, so hadn’t bothered with the blurb and what a delightful surprise it was to discover that the protagonist in this book is none other than Windsor Horne Lockwood 111.
Now Win, as he is called, is known for being the best and staunchest of friends to Myron Bolitar, onetime sports agent, now retired. Bolitar does not feature in this book, but it feels as if he does, so often does Win think of him.
This book does work perfectly well as a stand-alone and if you have never read the Myron Bolitar series (where have you been?) you won’t be seriously disadvantaged, but it may colour how you feel about Win. Because Win is our narrator and he is not inherently likeable. He is filthy rich, from old money, though he makes new money just as easily. He is intensely privileged; and he knows perfectly well that he will never have to face the consequences of his actions, because he is rich enough to have such small issues ‘taken care of’. Arrogant, dismissive and icy, the ultimate WASP, he is not your average hero.
Win is bordering on sociopathy and he makes judgements accordingly. He actively relishes violent engagements and his effete looks belie a well-toned and finely tuned body. His moral code, such as it is, is unique and we like Win only because his relationship to Myron has made him relatable and we know that he will go to any lengths to keep that friendship sacrosanct. With one notable exception, that is the only emotional engagement we know him to be capable of. The other is his daughter Ema. A child he neither wanted nor sought ownership of, but who now he finds engages him through her intellect and enquiring mind, which is especially sharp for a teenager.
So I was glued to this first thriller with Win as a stand-alone protagonist and it does not disappoint. Truthfully, I inhaled it. Coben gives us two mysteries to resolve. The first relates to a man found murdered in his penthouse apartment in the Beresford, NYC. A recluse, he was also an obsessive hoarder and it therefore comes as a surprise when, amidst the newspapers and other detritus the police find a Vermeer on the wall which was stolen from Win’s family over 20 years ago. That, together with a suitcase embellished with Win’s initials, is enough to give police cause to question Win about his whereabouts.
It is the monogrammed case which is the more perturbing of the finds. For that case disappeared the night Win’s Uncle Aldrich was murdered, and to what happened to Patricia, Win’s cousin, which was extensively covered by newspapers at the time, usually with lurid headlines like ‘Hut of Horrors’.
Also connected to the murder of this recluse is a cold case involving ‘The Jane Street Six’, a group of radical left domestic terrorists who murdered seven people with Molotov cocktails in the 1970’s and who were never brought to justice. This involvement brings in the FBI and Win’s erstwhile handler, ‘PT’. Assisted by his aide, Karim, Win sets out to find what connects all these incidents together and who was responsible for the murder of his uncle, the death of the recluse in the Beresford and his sister’s nightmare experience.
Verdict: Coben gives us thrills, twists and explosive moments with tension and surprises galore. Win is an immensely readable, highly entertaining novel that I tore through delightedly. A must read.
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Harlan Coben is the worldwide number 1 bestselling author of numerous thrillers, including Don’t Let Go, Home, and Fool Me Once, as well as the multi-award-winning Myron Bolitar series. His books are published in forty-three languages around the globe and are bestsellers in more than a dozen countries. Coben is also the creator and executive producer of many television shows, including the forthcoming Netflix Original drama Harlan Coben’s The Stranger starring Richard Armitage, Stephen Rea and Jennifer Saunders and the critically acclaimed Netflix Original drama Harlan Coben’s Safe starring Michael C. Hall. Coben is currently developing 14 projects, including Run Away, with Netflix in the US and internationally. He lives in New Jersey.