Lightening up, with cooking, craziness, chaos, cosiness, and con jobs…

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I’ve had a tiring few weeks, with the last one being particularly exhausting, so I took some time off from the deep, dark, psychological thrillers I usually read and I went to my comfort corner, keeping with crime but going as wacky, crazy, and cosy as I could.

These were my choices…

CRAZY, CRACKPOT AND IMPOSSIBLE CONS…

All pulled off like the perfect A-Team plot.  Let go with an enjoyable read and challenge yourself to see how many of Lee’s TV references you can spot!

FBI agent Kate O’Hare’s covert partner has been kidnapped. But she is in hot pursuit…

Nicolas Fox, con man, thief, and one of the top ten fugitives on the most-wanted list, has been kidnapped from a retreat in Hawaii. The kidnapper doesn’t know that Nick Fox has been secretly working for the FBI and that his partner, Special Agent Kate O’Hare, is on their trail.

The pursuit leads to Belgium, France and Italy, and pits Nick and Kate against a deadly adversary: Dragan Kovic, an ex-military officer from Serbia. He’s plotting a crime that will net him billions… and cost thousands of lives.

Nick and Kate have to mount an audacious con to avert catastrophe. The pressure’s on for them to make this work – even if they have to lay their lives on the line…

GRANNY’S GOT A GHOSTLY NEW PARTNER IN CRIME! 

If you like Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur, you’ll love Agnes Barton

Ever since Agnes’ car accident, things have changed drastically for her. When she wakes up in the hospital, not only is her son Stuart there, who she hasn’t seen in years, but a ghostly apparition!

Instead of getting ready for the loony bin, Agnes and Eleanor help ready the Butler Mansion for a grand opening as a bed and breakfast on Halloween, except they find the body of Katherine Clark. It’s game on, as usual, for Agnes, except she now has a new partner, one who has remained silent and is—well—a ghost.

Agnes now struggles to keep her wits, keeping her ghostly companion a secret from Eleanor, not such an easy feat since Eleanor is sharp as a tack. Not only that, but where has Stuart been all of these years and what is he up to?

HERCULE POIROT MEETS AGATHA RAISIN…..

“They say one should never trust a thin chef. By this measure, Chef Maurice was very trustworthy indeed.”

Take one sleepy Cotswold village, mix in one Poirot-esque murder mystery, add a larger-than-life French chef with an appetite for solving crime, and season with clues and red herrings galore . . .

It’s autumn in the Cotswolds, and Chef Maurice is facing a problem of mushrooming proportion. Not only has his wild herb and mushroom supplier, Ollie Meadows, missed his weekly delivery—he’s missing vital signs too, when he turns up dead in the woods near Beakley village.

Soon, Chef Maurice is up to his nose in some seriously rotten business—complete with threatening notes, a pignapping, and an extremely well-catered stake-out. Can he solve Ollie’s murder before his home-made investigation brings the killer out for second helpings?

 

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A Book A Day, End of month wrap….

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One is for

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One Kick by Chelsea Cain.  After six successful novels with her serial killer / detective duo, Cain is back with a new character and a new direction. Famously kidnapped at age six, Kick captured America’s hearts when she was rescued five years later. Now, twenty-one, she finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a missing child case that will put her talents to the test. 

Two is for

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Two For The Dough by Janet Evanovich.  The second in the now 25 book strong (including between-the-numbers novels) series featuring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.  Madcap capers, romantic entanglements and explosive adventures are packed into every single one.

Three is for

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The Three by Sarah Lotz.  One of the best books I’ve read all year.

Four is for

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Four of my favourites. Without returning to the Stephanie Plum series, I couldn’t find a book for four, so instead I picked four of my favourite books of the year so far. Dead Men’s Bones by James Oswald, The Girl On The Train by Paula HawkinsCrooked Herring by LC Tyler and The Fire Witness by Lars Kepler.

Five is for

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Five by Ursula P Archer.  In which our author takes a popular hobby, gives it a macabre twist, and produces are thrilling game of cat and mouse.

Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

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Stephanie Plum is getting desperate. She’s running out of leads in the search for Jimmy Poletti, who was caught selling more than cars out of his New Jersey dealership. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find the criminal wheeler and dealer.

Stephanie’s No. 1 temptation, Ranger, is also struggling. There’s a killer in town with a personal vendetta against him. If Ranger wants to survive, he’ll need Stephanie’s help – and to reveal a piece of his mysterious past.

Death threats, highly trained assassins and highly untrained assassins are all in a day’s work for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum!

I always love getting hold of a the latest Stephanie Plum installment, and Top Secret Twenty One was no exception.  As usual I switched off my phone, shut down my computer, settled into my comfiest chair with a fresh cup of coffee, and there I stayed from page one until I finished.  Reading a new plum is like finding an old pair of jeans that you thought you’d lost, slipping them on and discovering a £5 note hidden in one of the pockets.  Full of characters and places you know and are comfortable with, and containing a delightful hidden surprise.

There are some great twists and turns, and the usual collection of interwoven storylines, with my favourite part being about Ranger. Usually Stephanie’s ‘go to guy’ when in danger, this time round, he’s having his own issues which bring to light his own areas of weakness.  This humbling and humanising of him was perfectly well crafted, it was just enough to display more of who he really is, without taking away the mysterious, almost godlike, level of his character.

In all, Top Secret Twenty-One sees Evanovich back with a bang (or four) and on top form for this latest Stephanie Plum adventure.  It’s full of the usual mayhem, madness and murder, and with more intrigue and danger than ever. It’s yet another amazing read that devotees will devour in hours, and will easily ignite the curiosity of the newbie to investigate and indulge in the previous twenty plus books and novellas.

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The Chase – Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

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The Fox and the Hare are back and the chase is on!

The newest target for the FBI’s secret odd couple is Carter Grove, the ruthless leader of a private security company who has stolen a rare Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian, an artefact whose theft was covered up and one the Chinese now want back.

In order to avoid an international incident should the truth come to light, Nick and Kate must operate under the radar in order to steal the piece back. As the chase for the artifact moves rapidly around the globe from Washington DC, to Shanghai and even to the Highlands of Scotland the heat is on to prove no one can outsmart Fox and O’Hare.

The Chase is another glorious riot of a romp from Evanovich and Goldberg, that left me wondering exactly what it is I like most about these books.

I’m not sure if it is the spirit and fun of the “will they? won’t they?” (of course they will) relationship, the audacity of the cons they pull, the pure escapism of the plots, or the breakneck pace of the novel which caused me to delightedly tear through the book in a matter of hours. One thing I do know is that these books deliver pages and pages of fun.

With a cast of wacky, yet bizarrely believable characters, its cheeky style, range of humour, and fabulous sense of adventure I think that this is going to be another winning series for both Evanovich and Goldberg. Certainly from my point of view, as I for one am already looking forward to more impressive cons, thrilling takedowns and the next adventure from this deceptive duo.

The Heist – Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

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Since it’s impossible to review a new book by Janet Evanovich without mentioning Stephanie Plum, I won’t bother to try, I will simply say that Kate O’Hare is about as un-Plum like as you can get, but she is a character that is just as much, if not more, fun and addictive.

The Hare and the Fox.

Kate O’Hare is a FBI agent who has made it her career to chase down notorious con artist Nicholas Fox.  She is smart, sassy, supremely capable, oh and also an ex Navy SEAL. (Cue some artistic license from the authors here, who note at the beginning of the book that there is no such thing as a female Navy SEAL, although there should be.)

Nicholas Fox is highly intelligent, handsome and charm personified.  All traits which have enabled him to become so succesful at his ‘cons’ and to evade capture for years, until now that is.

Now she’s got her man, but he doesn’t want to be caught and instead makes a deal with the FBI to work alongside O’Hare to capture a corrupt investment banker, as long as they don’t kill each other first.

The Book

One thing I did find was that given Lee Goldberg’s history in writing TV shows, I found myself often comparing the relationship between Fox and O’ Hare with various TV partnerships, of which the one that sprang to mind most often was the tempestuous relationship between Cybil Shephard and Bruce Willis in the 1980’s show Moonlighting

The Heist is an absolutely delightful book to pick up and read, with its fantastic verbal sparring, mad cap moments and emotionally charged relationship. Following the adventurous duo through exotic lands and pirate waters The Heist proves it is what all Evanovich books are….  The perfect piece of escapism from the everyday grind.

It is also a book you certainly won’t want to put down so when you sit down to read, make sure you are curled up in your favourite chair and plan to be there for a while.

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A Bonus Taster

Want more of an introduction to O’Hare and Fox? Long standing Evanovich fan who wants to see how this new pairing compares to Stephanie Plum? Never read an Evanovich or Goldberg book before? Just want more?

Then as a bonus addition to the series, grab your Kindle or Kindle App and download Pros and Cons, a short story prequel to The Heist.