Myron Bolitar was once a very promising NBA rookie out of Duke, where his team won two NCAA national championships. But a freak accident early in his rookie year abruptly ended his basketball career and changed the course of his life. He went to law school, then did a brief stint with the F.B.I., and has just embarked on a new career as a sports agent.
Thus far, Myron has a small and fairly insignificant client list. But his prospects are brightened considerably when he signs quarterback Christian Steele, the number one NFL draft pick. Christian is not only a star athlete but also a good kid who has overcome a lot of obstacles to reach this point in his life. Among the tragedies in his young life was the disappearance of his college sweetheart, Kathy Culver, who has been missing and presumed dead for a year and a half. Kathy was the younger sister of Myron's former girlfriend, Jessica Culver, hence the connection between Myron and Christian.
Myron is in the process of negotiating Christian's first NFL contact, and the process is proving difficult. Then Myron gets a panicked call from Christian. Someone has sent him a pornographic magazine, and in the magazine is a picture of Kathy Culver, suggesting strongly that she may still be alive.
The photo raises any number of questions: Is Kathy still alive; if so, why hasn't she contacted Christian or her family? Why would her picture appear in this disgusting magazine, and why has some anonymous person sent the magazine to the young quarterback?
Myron attempts to answer these questions and quickly finds himself ensnared in a very complex mystery with a lot of unreliable and dangerous characters lurking about. Fortunately, Myron is assisted by his secretary, the gorgeous Esperanza, who used to wrestle under the name "Little Pocahontas."
Myron's main sidekick is his best friend and former college roommate, Windsor Horne Lockwood III, or "Win." Win is super-rich, super attractive, super-smart, and super-dangerous--all in all, a good man to have at your back.
The resulting story is an engrossing tale with snappy dialogue and humorous moments that do not seem out of place in a book where a lot of truly nasty things are happening. Coben has a deft touch in this regard, unlike some authors who are totally unable to pull off the mix of humor and gritty violence. The story requires some suspension of disbelief, especially with regard to the character of Win who is a bit over the top as the super-sidekick who is able to magically bail Myron out of any confrontation. But he's fun to watch, and the relationship between Myron and Win is one of the better such relationships in contemporary crime fiction.
I have a slight quibble with the book in that the climax seemed more than a bit implausible, as if the author had painted himself into a corner and couldn't quite figure out how to end the book. But this is a minor complaint, and Deal Breaker is a very good first entry in what has become a fairly long-running series.