Brenda Slaughter is no damsel in distress. Myron Bolitar is no bodyguard. But Myron has agreed to protect the bright, strong, beautiful basketball star. And he's about to find out if he's man enough to unravel the tragic riddle of her life.
Twenty years before, Brenda's mother deserted her. And just as Brenda is making it to the top of the women's pro basketball world, her father disappears too. A big-time New York sports agent with a foundering love life, Myron has a professional interest in Brenda. Then a personal one. But between them isn't just the difference in their backgrounds or the color of their skin. Between them is a chasm of corruption and lies, a vicious young mafioso on the make, and one secret that some people are dying to keep—and others are killing to protect....
Praise for One False Move
“Fast-moving, funny—an altogether good read!”—Los Angeles Times
“Consistently entertaining . . . Coben moves himself into the front ranks of mystery fiction alongside heavy hitters like Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton and Robert Crais.”—Houston Chronicle
“Must read . . . combines Chandler's wry wit with Ross Macdonald's moral complexity.”—Philadelphia Enquirer
“A superb book!”—Christian Science Monitor
About the Author
Hometown:Ridgewood, New Jersey
Date of Birth:January 4, 1962
Place of Birth:Newark, New Jersey
Education:B.A. in political science, Amherst College, 1984
Read an Excerpt
Myron hunched his shoulders and slurred his words. "I am not a baby-sitter," he said. "I am a sports agent."
Norm Zuckerman looked pained. "Was that supposed to be Bela Lugosi?"
"The Elephant Man," Myron said.
"Damn, that was awful. And who said anything about being a baby-sitter? Did I say the word baby-sitter or baby-sitting or for that matter any form of the verb to baby-sit or noun or even the word baby or the word sit or sat or--"
Myron held up a hand. "I get the point, Norm."
They sat under a basket at Madison Square Garden in those cloth-and-wood directors' chairs that have stars' names on the back. Their chairs were set high so that the net from the basket almost tickled Myron's hair. A model shoot was going on at half-court. Lots of those umbrella lights and tall, bony women-cum-children and tripods and people huffing and fluffing about. Myron waited for someone to mistake him for a model. And waited.
"A young woman may be in danger," Norm said. "I need your help."
Norm Zuckerman was approaching seventy and as CEO of Zoom, a megasize sports manufacturing conglomerate, he had more money than Trump. He looked, however, like a beatnik trapped in a bad acid trip. Retro, Norm had explained earlier, was cresting, and he was catching the wave by wearing a psychedelic poncho, fatigue pants, love beads, and an earring with a dangling peace sign. Groovy, man. His black-to-gray beard was unruly enough to nest beetle larvae, his hair newly curled like something out of a bad production of Godspell.
Che Guevara lives and gets a perm.
"You don't need me," Myron said. "You need a bodyguard."
Norm waved a dismissing hand. "Too obvious."
"She'd never go for it. Look, Myron, what do you know about Brenda Slaughter?"
"Not much," Myron said.
He looked surprised. "What do you mean, not much?"
"What word are you having trouble with, Norm?"
"For crying out loud, you were a basketball player."
"So Brenda Slaughter may be the greatest female player of all time. A pioneer in her sport--not to mention the pinup girl, pardon the political insensitivity, for my new league."
"That much I know."
"Well, know this: I'm worried about her. If something happens to Brenda Slaughter, the whole WPBA--and my substantial investment--could go right down the toilet."
"Well, as long as it's for humanitarian reasons."
"Fine, I'm a greedy capitalist pig. But you, my friend, are a sports agent. There is not a greedier, sleazier, slimier, more capitalist entity in existence."
Myron nodded. "Suck up to me," he said. "That'll work."
"You're not letting me finish. Yes, you're a sports agent. But a damn fine one. The best, really. You and the Spanish shiksa do incredible work for your clients. Get the most for them. More than they should get really. By the time you finish with me, I feel violated. Hand to God, you're that good. You come into my office, you rip off my clothes and have your way with me."
Myron made a face. "Please."
"But I know your secret background with the feds."
Some secret. Myron was still hoping to bump into someone above the equator who didn't know about it.
"Just listen to me for a second, Myron, okay? Hear me out. Brenda is a lovely girl, a wonderful basketball player--and a pain in my left tuchis. I don't blame her. If I grew up with a father like that, I'd be a pain in the left tuchis too."
"So her father is the problem?"
Norm made a yes-and-no gesture. "Probably."
"So get a restraining order," Myron said.
"Then what's the problem? Hire a private eye. If he steps within a hundred yards of her, call the cops."
"It's not that easy." Norm looked out over the court. The workers involved in the shoot darted about like trapped particles under sudden heat. Myron sipped his coffee. Gourmet coffee. A year ago he never drank coffee. Then he started stopping into one of the new coffee bars that kept cropping up like bad movies on cable. Now Myron could not go through a morning without his gourmet coffee fix.
There is a fine line between a coffee house and a crack house.
"We don't know where he is," Norm said.
"Her father," Norm said. "He's vanished. Brenda is always looking over her shoulder. She's terrified."
"And you think the father is a danger to her?"
"This guy is the Great Santini on steroids. He used to play ball himself. Pac Ten, I think. His name is--"
"Horace Slaughter," Myron said.
"You know him?"
Myron nodded very slowly. "Yeah," he said. "I know him."
Norm studied his face. "You're too young to have played with him."
Myron said nothing. Norm did not catch the hint. He rarely did.
"So how do you know Horace Slaughter?"
"Don't worry about it," Myron said. "Tell me why you think Brenda Slaughter is in danger."
"She's been getting threats."
"What kind of threats?"
"Could you be a little more specific?"
The photo shoot frenzy continued to whirl. Models sporting the latest in Zoom wear and oodles of attitude cycled through poses and pouts and postures and pursed lips. Come on and vogue. Someone called out for Ted, where the hell is Ted, that prima donna, why isn't Ted dressed yet, I swear, Ted will be the death of me yet.
"She gets phone calls," Norm said. "A car follows her. That kind of thing."
"And you want me to do what exactly?"
Myron shook his head. "Even if I said yes--which I'm not--you said she won't go for a bodyguard."
Norm smiled and patted Myron's knee. "Here's the part where I lure you in. Like a fish on a hook."
"Brenda Slaughter is currently unagented."
Myron said nothing.
"Cat got your tongue, handsome?"
"I thought she signed a major endorsement deal with Zoom."
"She was on the verge when her old man disappeared. He was her manager. But she got rid of him. Now she's alone. She trusts my judgment, to a point. This girl is no fool, let me tell you. So here's my plan: Brenda will be here in a couple of minutes. I recommend you to her. She says hello. You say hello. Then you hit her with the famed Bolitar charm."
Myron arched one eyebrow. "Set on full blast?"
"Heavens, no. I don't want the poor girl disrobing."
"I took an oath to only use my powers for good."
"This is good, Myron, believe me."
Myron remained unconvinced. "Even if I agreed to go along with this cockamamy scheme, what about nights? You expect me to watch her twenty-four hours a day?"
"Of course not. Win will help you there."
"Win has better things to do."
"Tell that goy boy-toy it's for me," Norm said. "He loves me."
A flustered photographer in the great Eurotrash tradition hurried over to their perch. He had a goatee and spiky blond hair like Sandy Duncan on an off day. Bathing did not appear to be a priority here. He sighed repeatedly, making sure all in the vicinity knew that he was both important and being put out. "Where is Brenda?" he whined.
Myron swiveled toward a voice like warm honey on Sunday pancakes. With her long, purposeful stride--not the shy-girl walk of the too-tall or the nasty strut of a model--Brenda Slaughter swept into the room like a radar-tracked weather system. She was very tall, over six feet for sure, with skin the color of Myron's Starbucks Mocha Java with a hefty splash of skim milk. She wore faded jeans that hugged deliciously but without obscenity and a ski sweater that made you think of cuddling inside a snow-covered log cabin.
Myron managed not to say wow out loud.
Brenda Slaughter was not so much beautiful as electric. The air around her crackled. She was far too big and broad-shouldered to be a model. Myron knew some professional models. They were always throwing themselves at him--snicker--and were ridiculously thin, built like strings with helium balloons on top. Brenda was no size six. You felt strength with this woman, substance, power, a force if you will, and yet it was all completely feminine, whatever that meant, and incredibly attractive.
Norm leaned over and whispered, "See why she's our poster girl?"
Norm jumped down from the chair. "Brenda, darling, come over here. I want you to meet someone."
The big brown eyes found Myron's, and there was a hesitation. She smiled a little and strode toward them. Myron rose, ever the gentleman. Brenda headed straight for him and stuck out her hand. Myron shook it. Her grip was strong. Now that they were both standing, Myron could see he had an inch or two on her. That made her six-two, maybe six-three.
"Well, well," Brenda said. "Myron Bolitar."
Norm gestured as if he were pushing them closer together. "You two know each other?"
"Oh, I'm sure Mr. Bolitar doesn't remember me," Brenda said. "It was a long time ago."
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm not a big fan of Coben's Myron Bolitar books, but I do usually enjoy his books. That said, this was one of his best Bolitar ones. I finished the book in 6 days, which is pretty fast for me. So, it was one of his hard to put down books - although I was recovering from a virus at the time and had more time to read. Personally, I thought Coben's best books were Gone for Good and Tell No One.
Great Book.....I just love Harlan Coben! Can't wait to read the next one in the series.....Myron Bolitar and Win his friend are a pair and I enjoy the humor interjected into each book.....plus the fact that I not only live in NJ where the books are set but I lived in Livingston where Harlan and Myron are from.....makes it so much more interesting when you know where they are. Enjoy it!
I love all Coben's book, and this was no exception. Great read!! Gotta love Myron and Win.
I absolutely love the bolitar series..... i love the twists and surprises and cant wait to get the sixth book :)
This was the first in the Myron Bolitar Series for me. I was impressed by the plot, the characters, and the way it was written. I also love some of the humor. I will want to read more of the books in this series. If you love a good mystery, you will be impressed with this.
I love the Myron Bolitar series. Harlan Coben delivers once again with One False Move. I highly recommend this book! What a great read!
So far, book #5 has been my favorite Myron book. The twists and turns left me unable to put the book down.
This was my 2nd time reading the Myron Bolitar series and just as great as the first time thru! Highly recommend...
One of the best novels I have read in a really long time including a number of Connolly, Sandford, Crais and Burke novels. The clues are laid out over the course of the entire book. Myron spends much of the novel getting played...but comes to the truth in the end through actual investigative work. There is none of the "he figures it out through divine intervention" cop-out that plagues so many novels in this genre. The ending is page turning and gripping...you cannot put it down once you are into the home stretch.
This is the 5th Myron Bolitar book and the most recent that I have read. I have to give it 5 stars because everytime I thought I figured out the next movie, another twist happened. I loved every bit of it, to the last page!!
When Norm Zuckerman asks Myron Bolitar to keep an eye on Brenda Slaughter, Myron finds himself enmeshed in decades old secrets from the Slaughter family and the most powerful family in New Jersey.
I can't get enough of this series. Yet another one that I just didn't see the end coming. Had some problems with the new love interest, not that I'm a big fan of Myron's regular love interest, Jessica. It just seemed a little too easy. I was glad to see Win come back in full force for this book, and happy to see Norm Zuckerman make a bit of a return - loved him in the last book.
Brenda Slaughter, pro basketball player and aspiring pediatrician. Myron Bolitar, reluctant detective, lawyer, agent, maybe lover, nice guy. A missing mother, a murdered father, Esperanza and Win, a gubernatorial candidate with cop and mob connections, Mom, Dad Bolitar and the aunts and uncles, and good old Livingston, NJ. Its all there, building Myron Bolitar into the guy you come to love. In two weeks, while committment-phobic girlfriend Jessica is off in LA, the story unfolds, minor characters come in and out, twisting the story, leading you down dark alleys of pointless speculation. You will remember this particular Bolitar by the snap to the end twists that come to a realistic but depressing end.
#5 in the Myron Bolitar series.An old friend, Norm Zuckerman, asks Myron to serve as a bodyguard for Brenda Slaughter, a hot young player in Zuckerman's newly-formed Women's Professional Basketball Association; there have been threats and Norm is worried. Myron is reluctant--until he meets Brenda, who is young, highly intelligent, stunningly beautiful and black. But Brenda, who is nobody's victim, puts conditions on her acceptance of Myron's watchfulness; her father Horace, who mentored Myron in basketball, has gone missing and Brenda wants Myron to find him.Myron, uncomfortably attracted to Brenda and undergoing a rough time with Jessica Culver, his long-time partner, agrees but soon discovers that he has taken on far more than a simple case of finding a missing person. It soon involves not only tracking down Anita, Breanda's mother who ran off twenty years before leaving her husband and 5 year old daughter, but also locking horns with a powerful New Jersey political family whose scion is running for governor. And with all this on his plate, Myron finally has to decide what he really wants out of life, a decision whose consequences are painful both in obvious and unlooked-for ways.This is the basis of a tightly written mystery that has excellent twists and turns throughout. Our Favorite Sociopath Win is back full bore as well as Esperanza Diaz, Big Cindy, and Myron's parents, Al and Ellen. Coben explores sexism in the story--not the overt, ugly kind but the internal, subtle stereotypes that most of us carry around within us. Brenda's race is not so much a problem as is her insistence on being treated as a fully-capable adult, notwithstanding her gender. This leads to one truly funny confrontation in Win's apartment between Myron and Brenda.Coben's whacky, off-the-wall humor enhances the story as usual. The climax is a complete surprise and handled very well. the ending is poignant--and sobering, as Myron continues to come to grips with who he really is as compared to who he wants to think he is.Highly recommended.
I bought the 7-book series and with it my introduction to Myron Bolitar. I love this character and his friends and especially love Harlan Coben's writing. I must say that I had to take a break after reading One False Move...not because of anything wrong with this story but because of the intensity that held me throughout the whole book. The characters seemed to reveal more about themselves than ever before. I won't give away the ending but I highly recommend this book. A lot of people say things like "I couldn't put it down" and "I read it from cover to cover." This is one book that those phrases will become your truth. I've gotten more than my money's worth with this series.
This 5th in the Bolitar series was no exception to the rule. I love these books for a change of pace in my reading . They are similiar to comfort food....familiar, pleasing and enjoyable every time. I read one about every 3 months and have enjoyed each one. There is always a good plot with twists and interesting characters that make me look forward to reading each evening .