I was a big of a latecomer to Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg’s “Fox and O’Hare” series when I started the series with the third book, “The Job,” but I was immediately captivated by the characters and the interesting interaction that they had with each other (not to mention the story). I was happy to get an advance copy of the upcoming book in the series, “The Scam,” and quickly sank back into the world of intrigue and crime that Evanovich and Goldberg have created.
When Kate O’Hare had captures Nicolas Fox, she had thought the justice had finally been served. She soon found out, however, that justice never rests and it can take on many different forms. The FBI decided to let Fox “escape” and assign O’Hare to work with him in tracking down and stopping some of the world’s most devious criminals. As a criminal mastermind and master con artist, Fox had skills that no one in law enforcement could bring to the table. All he needed was a minder. That was where O’Hare came into the equation. The mismatched duo had worked well together and brought down criminals that were above the law. Now they face their toughest test yet in Evan Trace.
At first glance, Evan Trace may seem to be just another man who got rich off of the vices of others at his casino in Macau. A closer look at his clientele exposes the fact that the majority of his best customers are mobsters, drug lords, and other various kings of the underworld who use the casino to launder money from their illegal endeavors. In order to stop a terrorist from using the casino’s “special services,” O’Hare and Fox must run the ultimate scam and bring Trace down in order to stop an even greater evil. This must be the ultimate scam, however, for one false move will cost them their lives.
I will start off by stating that I enjoyed this book more than the previous book in the series. The interplay between O’Hare and Fox is what makes this series so appealing and this interaction and conflict is brought to the forefront in “The Scam” as the rules keep changing and causing O’Hare to make compromise after compromise in order to keep the plan alive. Evanovich and Goldberg give the novel a bit of a larger-than-life feel but still keeps it grounded so that it almost, but not quite, seems believable. There is an almost lyrical feel to the book as the story seems to just flow and dance along rather than follow a tight narrative and it is easy to get lost in the story and not emerge until it comes to a close.
Make no mistake about it: this novel is pure entertainment but it deserves to be noted for accomplishing that goal. There is not a lot of substance in the novel. It is, quite simply, a fun book to read. It is a thriller that knows exactly what it is and never tries to go beyond its boundaries. It is a shorter novel so it is easy to read in a sitting or two and does not require much thought but provides some extra intrigue in the relationship between the title characters. The fact that O’Hare and Fox seem realistic while the supporting cast is somewhat cartoonish gives it an element of the fantastic that was common in crime novels of the past but which has come to be somewhat lost in the crime procedurals that dominate bookshelf and TV stations these days. I have to guiltily admit that I really enjoyed the novel and look forward to the next one. One cautionary word for the series as it moves forward, however, is that there is some indication that the relationship between Fox and O’Hare may be changing and I think that this change would be detrimental to the series. I do not want to give anything away but the reader can look for this in the novel and decide for themselves.
I would like to thank Random House – Bantam and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “The Scam” is scheduled to be released in September.