Newest review: Win by Harlan Coben

By Ekta R. Garg

April 28, 2021

Genre: Mystery/thriller

Release date: March 16, 2021

Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars

An ultra-rich, privileged man with connections to the FBI is called in to consult on a case. As he digs deeper into the information on hand and uses his own resources to find out more, he discovers that the decades-old case has ties close to home. Author Harlan Coben is back with a fantastic thriller that combines swag and mystery in his latest book Win.

Windsor Horne Lockwood III—or Win, as he likes to be known—is the epitome of the privileged white male. Born into a family of immeasurable wealth, he wears only the finest clothes, uses his private helicopter to bypass New York City traffic, and is okay if people think he’s a rich jerk. He has no illusions about how his family’s money gives him a leg up in the world.

Win also knows right from wrong in a way that is starkly black and white. If he thinks something is wrong, he can take care of it. If taking care of it means falling into a gray area where the law is concerned, he’s not too worried about it.

Part of that ease comes from the fact that Win has consulted on FBI cases from time to time. He doesn’t go looking for law enforcement; they come looking for him. And after a body is found in a well-known New York apartment building, the FBI come for Win. They ask if he recognizes the deceased, which he doesn’t, but there is one thing that catches Win’s attention right away: in the dead man’s apartment hangs an original Vermeer painting stolen from Win’s family more than 20 years earlier.

The Lockwood family had loaned out the Vermeer and a Picasso to nearby Haverford College. In a daring theft in the middle of the night that left a security guard bound and gagged in the basement, both paintings were stolen. Despite the family’s efforts, neither painting was ever retrieved. Until now.

The FBI agents assigned to the case find the entire situation suspicious. In addition to the Vermeer, they found a suitcase in the dead man’s apartment that has Win’s initials on it. Win has no idea how the suitcase got there, just as he has no idea who the man is.

His former FBI handler, PT, does. The dead man is someone the FBI has hunting for a while, a person of interest in a domestic terrorism attack from the early 1970s. Several people died, and six college students went on the run. Known as the Jane Street Six, the students went underground almost immediately. The FBI and all other law enforcement lost track of them. The dead man found in the same apartment as the Lockwood family’s Vermeer and Win’s suitcase was one of the Jane Street Six.

PT wants to know how it’s all connected, and Win has found a driving interest in the case as well. With FBI information to substantiate his hunches and to offer clues where to go next, Win begins his own investigation. He uses his resources, his intelligence, and even his charm to find out all he can about how the Jane Street Six is tied to the painting and to a darker episode in his family’s life. Before it’s all over, even Win will be surprised a time or two.

Author Harlan Coben knows exactly how to handle his audience, and his skillful writing shines in this latest book. Win is full of himself and doesn’t hesitate to tell readers this. He’s fully aware of just how privileged he actually is, a refreshing change from characters who enjoy all the perks of wealth while still ignoring how that wealth sets them apart. Win, though, revels in that separation. When he can, he widens it.

By the same token, Coben doesn’t let readers forget that Win is working a case. Here Coben’s experience in writing mysteries will guarantee that readers will be flipping or swiping pages as fast as possible. With a delicate touch, Coben weaves together everything in Win’s life: his excessive wealth and status as well as his laser focus on the case at hand. Despite Win’s active efforts to distance himself emotionally from everyone around him, this case has touched a nerve. He’s not going to rest until he solves it.

If the book can be faulted anywhere, it’s about two-thirds of the way through when a few details get a little hairy. Coben’s writing, however, will pull readers through to the satisfying conclusion and, hopefully, the setup for future novels about the arrogant problem solver.

Fans of solid thrillers will thoroughly enjoy this one. Anyone who wants an insider’s take on just what it means to be rich beyond belief would also probably really like the book. I recommend readers Bookmark Win.

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