Saturday, July 2, 2016
Review: The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1)
By: Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Nicolas Fox has long been the bane of Kate O'Hare's life -- until she arranges to have him hit by a bus, leading to his arrest and -- at long last -- the end of his infamous career as a con man and thief. Post-Fox, she's forced to resign herself to a much less interesting (or challenging) professional career investigating the likes of serial copyright violations, until the unthinkable happens, and Fox escapes his FBI handlers en route to his arraignment. Although she's officially sidelined from rejoining the investigation by her boss, Kate can't let her nemesis go. She goes off the grid, determined to bring Fox to justice, only to be confronted with the most extraordinary offer of her career. Her bosses assign her to work as Nick's handler in a series of off-the-books operations, going after criminals the Bureau can't touch in an official capacity.
Following his arrest by the persistent (and alluring) Kate O'Hare, Nick unspools the biggest con of his life, trading jail time for five years' probation as an off-the-books FBI asset. With Kate's grudging consent to their unorthodox partnership, the two are assigned to bring down Derek Griffin, a notoriously corrupt investment banker who absconded with millions from his clients. But in order to find Derek, he first has to assemble a crew of rookies to help sell his audacious plan, and convince Kate that maybe, just maybe, running a con could be just as much fun as chasing the con artist.
When I stumbled upon this title a few weeks ago I couldn't resist the premise -- polar opposites on each side of the law working together to crack criminal cases in exotic locales around the world? I am SO IN. Fans of White Collar (may it rest in peace) will easily find a home within these pages, and Evanovich and Greenberg spin a breezy tale of audacious cons, exotic locales, and a dash of sizzling romantic tension. The Heist isn't a deep or profound read by any stretch of the imagination, but it is just the type of breezy, over-the-top, ridiculously fun caper that my heat-fatigued brain craved (summer is not, and never has been, my friend).
Kate is something of a walking cliche in that she is capable at her job but consumed by it, with zero work/life balance and completely oblivious to her appeal as a potential romantic partner. While in that respect she is a complete, one-note chick lit cliche, it's refreshing to see a female lead who is a capable professional with a great familial support system. In fact, Kate's father Jake, is a highlight of the novel, a retiree and former special ops veteran who gleefully serves as Kate's unofficial back-up while overseas performing unsanctioned extraordinary rendition missions. I love the fact that -- at least initially -- he's more excited and supportive of Kate's dangerous new line of work than she is herself.
A concept novel like this something of a con itself, and it only works if the characters involved can sell the over-the-top storyline. Therein lies the book's greatest success, as -- led by Nick -- the motley crew that assembles to take down Derek Griffin is deliciously humorous and engaging, gleefully owning their less-than-legal behavior. Nick's new team is a band of modern day Robin Hoods, and while Kate is far from a damsel-in-distress, she fills the Marian slot nicely, particularly in how she comes to enjoy working alongside Nick instead of chasing him, embracing the dance of the con rather than seeking to live within the rules she's always sought to uphold.
The Heist is a fun, breezy read, great for a few hours of summer escapism. I adore heist stories, everything from White Collar to Ally Carter's Heist Society novels. Nick and Kate's relationship and playful banter are reminiscent of other unlikely partners in crime, from Nick and Nora Charles to The Scarecrow and Mrs. King. This is the type of globe-trotting adventure I can't help but devour, and while it can be a little cheesy and very silly, I'll definitely read the subsequent installments in this series. If they live up to the precedent set in this volume, Fox and O'Hare's future adventures promise to be the perfect recipe for a bit of welcome escapism.
About the book:
Nicolas Fox is an international con man, famous for running elaborate sams on very rich and powerful people. He knows that the FBI has been hot on his trail for years -- particularly FBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare. But just when it seems that Fox has been captured for good, he pulls off his greatest con of all: He convinces the FBI to offer him a job, working side by side with O'Hare.
Their first assignment takes them to the streets of Berlin, the California desert, and remote Indonesian islands as they team up to catch Derek Griffin, a corrupt investment banker charged with stealing millions from his clients. Finding Griffin on his private island is going to test O'Hare's patience and Fox's skill. High-speed chases, pirates, and Toberlone bars are all in a day's work...if O'Hare and Fox don't kill each other first.