by Cynthia Chow
We are so excited to have a review of the second book in this series by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg! We also have a fun behind the book interview with Lee. Details on how to win a copy of The Chase at the end of this post.
The Chase By Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Review by Cynthia Chow
The Chase literally starts off with a bang in the explosive sequel by new best-selling writing team, Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. Following the events from The Heist, FBI agent Kate O’Hare and internationally infamous art thief, Nicholas Fox, have been teamed up by her superiors for covert and highly illegal operations swindling criminals and protecting the government from embarrassment.
Their latest assignment is to recover a bronze rooster stolen out of the Smithsonian before the Chinese government–who loaned the twenty-million dollar artifact–arrives to retrieves it, a little tricky as there is a deadline of two weeks with no knowledge of just who actually swiped it. Nick has connections, though, and soon they are led to a former White House Chief of Staff whose ostentatious mansion houses an obscene amount of stolen art ripe for the picking. That Carter Grove also happens to head a black ops security firm employed by the Pentagon and has highly trained, extremely armed and extraordinarily lethal agents guarding his property…well, that just makes it all the more fun.
A daring scheme involving a faux reality television show goes off without a hitch, but that’s just the start of the adventures as Carter is not exactly the forgiving type. Fortunately for readers, this means that Nick and Kate are bringing back the band from their earlier adventures, which includes a busty car thief and a talented actor frequently fired or who quits from commercial acting jobs due to conflicts over the emotional motivations of playing Casper or a talking pancake. For mercenaries on speed dial, Kate needs to look no further than her loving father, Jake O’Hare, an ex-military covert ops soldier bored out of his skull in retirement and who can always be relied upon to have a gym bag full of golf balls, Tums, extra socks, hand grenades, tear gas and a Glock.
If readers may have become complacent with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (Top Secret Twenty-One is set for release this summer), this team-up with television, movie producer and author of the Monk mystery series, Lee Goldberg, is the perfect anecdote that injects outstanding action, legitimately funny humor, sparkling banter and witty dialogue. The relationship between Nick and Kate is progressing smoothly and naturally, with the best parts of one slowly influencing the other as in Kate now only occasionally feels the urge to shoot off his toe or stab him with a fork.
This extremely fun caper novel takes readers from Scotland to Shanghai to Kentucky in escapades that begin as complex as any labyrinth but conclude with, well, rocket launchers and warfare. The high points are still Nick and Kate, the former who lives a life accustomed to first class, champagne and a moral code akin to Robin Hood without all of the giving to the poor. Kate has a highly developed need for meriting out legal justice, but her sheer physicality and lethal skills should never be overlooked, even as she dodges her domesticated–and very happy– sister’s attempts to set Kate up on blind dates. The massive amounts of humor and caper schemes that would make Danny Ocean jealous, all ensure for a read that cannot be put down and is unrelenting in its captivating plot and entertaining characters.
Behind the Book Interview With Lee Goldberg:
KRL: You were able to insert a bit from your experiences as a television and movie producer into the scenes where Kate and Nick portray television producers. Were there scenes you cut out or would have liked to have included? How do you decide how to edit and cut out scenes?
Lee: There were no scenes “left on the cutting room floor” in this book. That said, one of Janet’s many talents is that she’s an exceptional editor. She trimmed a lot of fat from the book and I don’t miss it at all (that’s different than “deleted scenes,” it’s more like deleted over-writing). It reads lean, tight and fast. I’ve learned so much from her about making my prose move as fast as the plot.
KRL: Nick loves to use pseudonyms from television detectives (Jim Rockford, Sonny Crockett, Jonathan Hart). Were you a fan of television detective shows? Are you still a fan?
Lee: When I was in my teens, I began writing a book called Unsold Television Pilots, every TV series idea rejected by the networks from 1955 until the book was finally published in 1989. I’ve written and produced two TV specials based on that book (one for CBS, one for ABC). I’ve also got just hundreds of VHS tapes of TV shows and just about every TV cop show that’s ever been released on DVD…and I’ve also written and produced 100s of hours of television myself. So am I a TV fan? No, not at all. I don’t have one of those devil boxes in my house.
KRL: There is an extraordinarily brutal fight scene between Kate and Alexis. How do you determine how far to go in the details to keep from becoming too gruesome? And how did you research the fight (you thank author Zoe Sharp, an author known for her demonstrating hand to hand combat)?
Lee: We talk a lot in the Fox & O’Hare books about how tough Kate is…and about the danger she and Nick are in. We thought it was important to show that she isn’t all talk…that when it comes down to it, she is lethal. We also thought it was critical to show that there are real stakes. They will die if they screw up. Zoe is an old friend of mine and she gave us a lot of help with the fight sequences.
KRL: It’s always said that art mimics life, and vice versa. Have you ever written a scene only to hear about it happening in real life (I’m referring to some of the robberies and capers)? Do you then go back and change your writing?
Lee: Yes, I have. The worst example is that I wrote an episode of the series Martial Law where terrorists fly a plane into a skyscraper. This was in 1999. I used to have that script up on my website. When 9/11 happened, I yanked it.
KRL: Oh wow. You’ve written darker, more noir mysteries, along with this very humorous series and the Monk mysteries. Which do you enjoy writing more? And do you have a different mindset or process when writing them?
Lee: I like writing all of them…and even my noir books have some humor. But you can get into a rut. That’s why I enjoyed writing King City and McGrave while doing Monk…they were so different from those comedic whodunits. And it’s so great now with the Fox & O’Hare books to be able to write international adventures. It’s exhilarating after doing 15 Monks in a row. I am so glad I don’t have to plot another impossible mystery. Then again, these heists and cons aren’t so easy, either.
KRL: You’ve worked in Hollywood mostly behind the scenes. What has it been like touring with Janet Evanovich, who is a rock star in the mystery book world (not that you’re not famous yourself)?
Lee: Astonishing. I was totally unprepared for the reception that Janet gets on the road. But she is so gracious and friendly…she doesn’t act like a “rock star” at all. The fans love her because she genuinely loves them.
KRL: What is the process like writing a book with Janet? And is it any easier the second time around?
Lee: Writing is always hard work, but we have a lot of fun…it’s why we do it. We knew we’d have a blast…and I think that comes through on the page. Although we trade pages back and forth throughout the process, I basically write the first draft and then she does her “Janet” pass. She sprinkles it with her magic pixie dust. I am not saying that lightly. It really is magic what she does. There isn’t a joke, a scene, or a heart-felt moment that she doesn’t make better with her writing. I just love getting the pages back after she’s done her pass. There are always so many delightful surprises. She is also, as I said before, a brilliant editor. She brings out the best in me and cuts the worst.
KRL: What are your future independent projects? The sequel to King City?
Lee: I have the sequel to King City a plotted out…and I’m so eager to write it…and I keep promising to deliver it to Thomas & Mercer, but I haven’t had the time yet between Fox & O’Hare books.
KRL: Is Canada’s Moving Day a real thing and why haven’t I heard of it before?!?
Lee: Yes, it is. I’ve known about it for years and have kept it in my back pocket to use some day exactly the way we used it in The Chase.
To enter to win a copy of The Chase, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Chase,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 15, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.