Janet Evanovich – touted by her publisher as “queen of kick-ass crime”- is one prolific writer. Apart from her ongoing, highly enjoyable Stephanie Plum bounty hunter series, and her writing under the pseudonym of “Charlotte Hughes”, she is also big on collaborating with other writers, like Phoef Sutton for the “Diesel and Tucker” series, and fellow crime writer Lee Goldberg.
Goldberg and Evanovich’s newest collaboration, The Scam, is the fourth instalment in their Fox and O’Hare series, and like the previous instalments (and much of Evanovich’s other work) is built on the combination of a sassy, gun-wielding heroine and a smoulderingly sexy male side-kick who are on a mission to bring down some serious criminals.
In The Scam FBI agent Kate O’Hare and newly recruited, ex-elusive con-man Nick Fox are honing in on money laundering, Brad-Pitt look alike Evan Trace, who runs corrupt casinos in Vegas and Macau, and who also happens to be somewhat of a sociopath. The duo goes undercover to force Trace to give his various criminal customers up to the FBI, but may have underestimated this man who keeps Piranhas as house pets, and employs a very large enforcer called Garver who is fond of using a mallet on people’s various body parts.
The setting of the novel spans the globe for exotic locations, like Hawaii, Macau and Las Vegas, and seems already set for the glamorous screen adaption that Goldberg – an experienced screenwriter and TV producer – could be envisioning in plotline and location choices. The authors manage to capture the surface opulence of the high-end gambling milieu in an “Oceans 11” kind of way, as the success of the scam revolves around the acting and improvisation skills of Fox, O’Hare and the team of characters they assemble to help them.
The plot is entertaining enough, and probably just manages to carry the reader along the speed-bumps in the novel, which are caused by the noticeably uneven writing style, and the occasional random diversions that challenge plausibility.
Formulaic, but not necessarily predictable, The Scam is the kind of book that you will want to read if you are looking for something light and entertaining, maybe a perfect summer holiday read. A read where beautiful and clever people work hard to outsmart evil and corruption, and justice lives to see another day. And as the ending is not so much a resolution, as a cliff-hanger, you can rest assured in the knowledge that another instalment of this glamorous duo is just around the corner.