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Onyx reviews: The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Reviewed by Bev Vincent, 12/09/2014

FBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare and artful thief and international man of mystery, Nick Fox, are back on the job again. Fox calls O'Hare while she's in the middle of subduing a group of bank robbers to tell her he didn't commit the art theft for which he is about to be blamed. It's the first of several audacious crimes that will be attributed to him, and Kate is the only person who believes he's innocent.

Fox is her special project. She's the one who finally managed to apprehend him, so now he's on the hook, obliged to cooperate with the Feds in subduing other big ticket criminals. That doesn't mean he's given up his life of crime. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He does, however, use his criminal know-how and connections in the underworld to help Kate and her boss, the only two people who know that Fox is working for the good guys.

The thefts are a somewhat cumbersome call for help. One of Fox's former partners in crime was victimized by a wealthy criminal, a man long believed to be dead. Once Fox and O'Hare (and, yes, the names are rather obvious, aren't they?) track down and apprehend the culprit who is trying to reach Fox, the book's real action begins. The mark is an international drug thief, which is why Kate's boss allows her to set this guy up, even though their real motivation is to help Fox's old friend.

Their target has a couple of weaknesses that they can exploit to bring him out of hiding. Reassembling a rag-tag and unlikely bunch of allies, including Kate's gun-happy father, they set up an intricate con game that would make the creators of Ocean's Eleven drool. The book's biggest problem is that, once the scheme is set into motion, there's little indication that anything can go wrong and, in fact, little does. Kate ends up being held hostage to guarantee the mark's safety, guarded by a woman with sadistic tendencies, but a conveniently located secret exit allows her to slip away when the going is about to get very tough.

The unlikely duo are the Maddie & Dave (Moonlighting) of contemporary thrillers. While there's little doubt that they'll pull off their daring exploits without fail, the big question is: will they or won't they. The only thing keeping them apart is Kate's hesitation to get involved with a criminal, even though she spends a great deal of time mooning over him and Fox, for his part, is wooing her constantly.

This is the third book in the series, following The Heist and The Chase. These are brief tales told directly with little time spent on characterization or serious conflict. They could easily be distilled into an episode of a TV show or, with a little work, a thrilling film. There are plenty of exciting set pieces in exotic locations, where characters perform implausible death-defying feats and things explode, and a colorful but cardboard thin secondary cast of wisecracking characters, but there's not much there there. This book can easily be read in a couple of hours and, while it's a thrilling ride, one tends to wish that it came with a bag of popcorn.

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