- Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
Janet Evanovich, bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum novels, and Lee Goldberg, novelist and TV writer for “Monk,” (Boy, do I miss this great show!) have joined forces in “The Heist” (Bantam Books, 320 pages, $28.00) to produce a book that reminds me of “The Thomas Crown Affair” and the TV series “White Collar.”
Evanovich and Goldberg are both skilled writers who have managed to put their own special imprint on FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare, who channels the Faye Dunaway and Rene Russo roles of the two versions of “Thomas Crown” and Nicolas Fox, an international con man who performs the Steve McQueen and Pierce Brosnan functions in “Thomas Crown.” Norman Jewison directed the original, 1968 “The Thomas Crown Affair” starring McQueen and Dunaway and John McTiernan (“Die Hard” and “The Hunt for Red October”) helmed the 1999 remake, starring Brosnan and Russo.
A former Navy SEAL, Kate O’Hare has a reputation in the bureau for her fierce dedication and discipline on the job, chasing down the world’s most wanted criminals and putting them behind bars. Her boss thinks she is tenacious and ambitious; her friends think she is tough, stubborn, and maybe more than a little obsessed. Kate has made a name for herself for the past five years but the only name she’s cared about is Nicolas Fox—an international crook she wants in more ways than one.
Fox is a natural con man, notorious for running elaborate scams on very high-profile people. At first he did it for the money. Now — like Thomas Crown — he does it for the thrills. He knows that the FBI —particularly Kate O’Hare — is on his case. For Nick, being pursued by a beautiful woman like Kate O’Hare is the greatest rush of all. But just when it seems that Nicolas Fox has been captured for good, he pulls off his greatest con of all: He convinces the FBI to offer him a job, working with O’Hare.
Starting in, of all places, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the largest city in southeastern Missouri with 38,000 people and perhaps best known as the birthplace of Rush Limbaugh, Fox and O’Hare begin assembling a team made up of flamboyant actors, wanted wheelmen, and Kate’s dad, who has contacts everywhere and access to unusual weapons that will later be of use to Kate and Nick. The ad hoc partnership with Kate is the element of “The Heist” that reminded me of “White Collar”, a USA Network series where a charming beyond belief con man is recruited by a federal agent to help catch bad guys.
Derek Griffin is their first target. He’s a corrupt investment banker who’s hiding on a private island in Indonesia. Capturing Griffin and bringing him to justice will be the ultimate test of all the skills and cunning O’Hare and Fox possess. Before they reach Griffin’s island, they have to fight off the pirates that infest the waterways of the island nation.
The action is fast paced and the writing is first rate, making “The Heist” an excellent choice for vacation reading.
The hardcover edition of “The Heist” contains removable, glossy stickers: I ‘Heart’ Plum” and “The Con Is On”—and an excerpt from the next Stephanie Plum novel, “Takedown Twenty” due Nov. 19, 2013.