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Posted: October 24, 2021

Contemporary masterpiece explores how society functions

Book Review

By Derryll White

Coben, Harlan (2021).  Win.

“It was also, as my father pointed out, a different era.  That doesn’t excuse it.  It puts it in context.  There is a difference.”  – Win.

No question, Harlan Coben is a master storyteller.  Having read may of his novels over the years I have never had cause to feel let down or cheated by character development, story flow or intellectual challenge.  Coben always asks bigger questions.  He wants to know how we work, what drives us both as individuals and as a species.

“Win” is a departure. Something happened to Myron Bolitar, the basketball force/sports rep who drove so many of Harlan Coben’s previous stories.  Someday I will have to go back in his list of works and figure that out.  But Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) has always been there as an almost equal – the equivalent of Joe Pike in the Elvis Cole series by Robert Crais.  Here Win jumps out on his own, bringing his wealth, training and impeccable focus to a story that explores the interstices of black and white, right and wrong.

Harlan Coben does not make the mistake of telling the reader what is right, or wrong.  He leads the reader to explore moral foundations, concepts of fairness and societal values.  Being the master he is, Coben leaves the answers to the reader.  This is a contemporary masterpiece of exploration as to how our society actually functions.  My suggestion – read this book!


Excerpts from the novel:

COMFORT – I head up the stone steps and into the parlor.  I still get the faint whiff of pipe tobacco.  I know that’s not possible, that no one has smoked a pipe in this room in almost four decades, that the brain not only conjures up false sights and sounds but, more often, scents.  Still the smell is real to me.  Maybe aromas do indeed linger, especially the ones we find most comforting.

MEMORY – …but I realize that what I’m conjuring up isn’t real or stored in my brain.  This true for most if not all of what we call memory.  Memories aren’t kept on some microchip in the skull or filed away in a cabinet somewhere deep in our cranium.  Memories are something we reconstruct and piece together.  They are figments we manufacture to create what we think occurred or even simply hope to be true.  In short, our memories are rarely accurate.  They are biased re-enactments.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.

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