13 May 2024

Harlan Coben's latest novel lands after an eight year hiatus

From Afternoons, 3:10 pm on 13 May 2024

Harlan Coben has reprised his character Myron Bolitar in his latest book Think Twice.

The basketball player turned sports agent who often plays detective, was first introduced to us back in the 1990s, and Coben tells Jesse Mulligan it was time to bring him back.  

“Myron feels a little bit like fun vintage. I just thought it would be interesting to try to write a thriller where it has the thrills and the twists and turns, and you will be completely shocked by the ending, I guarantee you will not guess who dunnit in Think Twice.

“But more than that, you might just want to spend some time with some friends, some nice people, some people that you would want to share a pint with at a pub. And that's kind of what I think Myron, Win, Esperanza and his team do.”

Harlan Coben.


Coben, a master of suspense, has sold more than 80 million books and adapted several of them for Netflix.

He and his character Myron have aged in different ways over the years, he says. Myron has many of the qualities Coben wished he had himself.

“I played college basketball, Myron’s a much better player. He's funnier, he's stronger, he's faster, he's better with a joke.

“I have him beat in two areas. One, I'm a better dancer and two, I'm slightly wiser in the ways of women, that's no great shakes, but I've been with my wife for a long time and Myron’s love life is something of a disaster.

“The first one [Deal Breaker] was in 1995, his life has sort of gone down, my life has gone up. So, I think right now he's probably more envious of me than I am of him.”

His ideas for books come from a kind of perpetual curiosity about the world, he says.

“In this case [Think Twice] I always swore that I would never write a serial killer book, I have no interest in serial killer books, I find them sort of dull.

“But I was reading that serial killers are getting rarer and rarer. Not because we have better mental health, but because it's really hard to get away with it in today's world. Everybody, victim and killer, can be tracked so easily.”

That became the challenge that piqued his authorial interest, he says.

“How can I write a serial killer book that I would like?”

He is compelled to write, he says, because his own life is “fairly boring.”

“I'm not very interesting, I don't have any hobbies. I don't like Persian carpets, or buying antiques, I don't paint, a lot of people's hobbies are creative. My job is creative.

“There's a great quote from Flaubert, where he said, 'be regular and orderly in your real life, so that you can be violent and original in your work.'

“I think I follow that in my life, I'm a fairly boring guy, my life's fairly boring and so I can get to work.”

Think Twice book cover

Photo: Penguin Books New Zealand

Coben was raised in a family of voracious readers, the reading habit, he believes, promotes empathy.

“And boy, that's something we can use in the world right now. Have you ever noticed that people who have these simple answers are not big readers. Extremists read one book and that's it, any kind of extremist.”

The writer is competing with multiple distractions today, and so he aims to grab the reader and not let go.

“I always have tried to make my books open with a big first sentence and capture you right away, because in today's world, it's just the reality, if I'm going to spend 20 pages describing a sunset, you're not going to stay with me.

“People think that when I say that I mean, don't have descriptions, don't have themes - no, no, no - but even those have to matter, they have to keep a person engaged.”

He recently spoke at an event in London on the importance of reading to mental health, research shows that even five minutes a day reading is beneficial, he says.

“There's never a moment that you go to bed, and you say ‘you know what? I'm putting my phone away a half hour early and I'm going to read a book’ and you regret it, not once. You regret the phone; you regret scrolling on the internet and looking through social media. Not once, even if you hate the book, do you regret the time that you spent reading.”

Think Twice is published by Penguin Books New Zealand.