The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Janet is back,with a series that could be a successor to her much loved Stephanie Plum series.  Her previous attempts have included Alex Barnaby, in the novels Metro Girl and Motormouth, which fell flat due in part to weak plots and the unlike-ability of Alex’s perspective romantic partner, Sam Hooker.  Then came the  “Wicked” novels featuring Diesel, a minor Plum character which introduced a strong supernatural element but really followed the formula of a Plum novel to closely to appear “fresh”.  Finally, the two recent romance novels she has released with writing partner Dorien Kelly have been too traditionally romantic to maintain the broad appeal that Evanovich has achieved with both men and women in her Plum novels.

In, “The Heist”, Evanovich and Goldberg have created two strong, smart and interesting characters and inserted them into a clever situation. Kate O’Hare is a seasoned FBI agent with a single overriding goal, capturing con-man extraordinaire Nick Fox.  After numerous attempts, Kate finally gets her man, only to have her superiors flip her world upside down by cutting a deal with Nick.  He gets to run his cons but he works for them, outside the law, to arrange and capture felons that law enforcement can’t touch. To make matters worse, they make Kate his watchdog.

Rather than being fumbling like Stephanie Plum who solves cases more through sheer luck than skill, Kate is tough and knows her job.  She is also quick witted and  good natured with an edge.  The relationship between Kate and her father, retired military man Jake O’Hare, is strong and gives her a depth of character.  In the first book, Nick Fox is a bit of a cypher but his natural charm, wit, and humour make him pretty irresistible to both Kate and the reader.  The two of them have chemistry and both are aware of their attraction, though they fight it.

The plot of the first book in the series involves an elaborate con to dupe a former Wall Street high flyer, who ran away with his clients half billion dollars, that he is in danger from a Mexican drug cartel and must turn himself and the cash in to save his life.  The beginning takes a bit to get going with the situation set up and the introduction of the secondary characters that form Nick and Kate’s crew in the con but once the action gets going it’s a roller-coaster.

Having never read anything by Lee Goldberg, I’m not sure what he contributed and what Evanovich did, but it’s a good match. There’s lots of room for the characters to grow, the possibilities of cons in exotic locations are endless, and the chemistry between the characters should keep the dialogue fast paced and entertaining.  For a light and enjoyable read, this series looks like it’s going to be a winner.  For me, at least, “the con is on!”.

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