Thanks to NetGalley and Random House – Bantam Dell, I had the chance to read an advance e-copy of The Chase, coauthored by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.
The basic premise: Everyone in the FBI knows that Agent Kate O’Hare is hunting notorious thief and con artist Nick Fox. She’s caught him once before, and after his escape, her coworkers worry that she has become obsessed with finding him. What only a handful of people know is that Nick didn’t actually escape – the FBI released him after extracting a promise that he would work for them in an unofficial capacity, privately helping the FBI catch “major crooks” while publicly remaining on their Top 10 Most Wanted list. Kate works as Nick’s handler for this project although she’s officially the agent in charge of the FBI manhunt to catch him. In The Chase, the Smithsonian Museum has recently agreed to return a valuable bronze sculpture called The Rooster to the Chinese government. A Chinese art expert will be arriving in DC in less than a week to authenticate the sculpture and transport it back to China. The problem? The Rooster was actually stolen from the Smithsonian 10 years ago. The one on display is a fake. Nick Fox, under Kate’s supervision, has to find out who has the Rooster, steal it, and swap it for the fake at the Smithsonian in order to avoid an international incident. In order to do this, Nick and Kate plan an elaborate con that will set them against one of the most dangerous, wealthy, and ruthless men in the US.
As someone who has never read one of Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, I went into The Chase with no expectations. This was a really quick read with a fun plot. It reminded me a bit of Ocean’s Eleven – cheering for the good-hearted thieves while they attempt to pull off a con of David-and-Goliath proportions. I really enjoyed all the planning and set-up for Nick and Kate’s theft, and the other characters they bring in to be their crew were funny. There are countless pop culture references sprinkled throughout (Pitbull, Jay Z, Downton Abbey, etc.) that will eventually make this book feel dated, but as I read through, they made me laugh.
If you’re looking for deep themes and serious character development, you won’t find them here. But what you do get is a story that will hook you quickly and keep you interested. This would be a great vacation read – something to entertain you without requiring a lot of concentration. I remember thinking about halfway through that the Nick and Kate partnership seemed like a good basis for a TV series. Then I read that Lee Goldberg is actually a screenwriter and TV producer, so that explains a lot.
I did realize about fifty pages in, because there were some heavy-handed references to Kate and Nick’s backstory, that this is actually the second novel of a series. The first is called The Heist, and it was published in June of 2013. Fortunately, there was enough explanation of what happened before that I didn’t feel lost at all. I actually enjoyed this one so much that I’ll probably go back and read the other.