Are We There Yet?

The Chase - Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg
”Bing Crosby? Really?” Nick asked. “That’s who you see when yowl ooh at me?”
Gelman gestured at Nick’s reflection in the full-length mirror. “Who do you see? Pitbull? Jay-Z, maybe?”
“Do you even know who they are?”
“Just because I’ve had a hip replacement doesn’t mean I’m not hip.”


To be fair it wasn't everywhere. Mostly here and there.

I can’t really say I was disappointed with the second instalment in Kate and Nick’s infinite playlist of barely there sexual tension and lame capers… okay I jest, I am pretty disappointed.

In The Chase Kate and Nick are tasked by the FBI to retrieve a Chinese historical artefact from the former White House Chief of Staff, Carter Grove. Standing in their way is the fact that Carter currently runs BlackRhino, an elite private security agency that outsources its mercenary services to nations at war. Backed by old and new crew members, Kate and Nick are sent on transcontinental merry chase, from Scotland to Shanghai in an elaborate operation to prevent a diplomatic embarrassment. It was all shits and giggles, or at least these people’s version of, until they realize just how dangerous an enemy they made out of Carter Grove.

My problem with this series is that there’s very little progress in terms of the overall story from The Heist. I saw brief glimpses of either Nick and Kate’s characters’ background in the first book and found them intriguing enough to continue on to this adventure to get to know them better. Unfortunately, what I knew of either protagonists before coming into The Chase is pretty much the same after I finished it. The snarky back talk and the unfulfilled sexual tension felt flat and robotic the second time around, losing the cushion offered by their novelty.

And perhaps its too soon to be impatient, seeing as this is but the second book in an open-ended series but there has to be something that would make me come back and be invested on either of them: within and outside their relationship. Notice I don’t shelf this as a contemporary romance precisely because I don’t read it as such… yet. 

A gripe I had on the first book is the over simplicity of the con. Here it felt a little too drawn out. Long cons do not necessarily mean greater complexity. It had it’s fast-paced and exciting moments but had to share space with history and cultural lessons alongside lengthy specifications of a glamorous jet or an ostentatious car. Which is interesting to a plebeian like me but then I wouldn’t really know the difference between a Maserati and a Lamborghini’s engine specs to approximate how well-researched this is. On the bright side, I suppose the goofy, almanac delivery of the story did make setting the book aside and picking it up again easy on the continuity. But I would gladly trade the travelogue and Top Gear vernacular for more scenes with Boyd, the method actor they occasionally hire to join their team, dressed as Percy the Pancake.

”A complete stranger— a giant pancake, no less — has just appeared in their home,” Boyd said. “Why isn’t anyone reacting to this? Wouldn’t they be screaming terror?”
“They love pancakes,” Stan said.
“What would they do if a fried chicken leg walked in?”
“The family knows you. You’re not just another pancake off the street.”
“Okay, assuming you’re right, I’m a pancake asking this family to eat me. Am I suicidal or simply filled with self-loathing?”

That wasn't even the end of it.

There’s probably a Japan gif for a self-loathing, suicidal pancake in the interwebz but that scene just prevents me from doing anything other than laugh and hyperventilate in between. 

I also enjoyed Jake and his rag-tag band of geriatric misfits but I’m starting to sense the pattern in the role he plays in the shenanigans Kate and Nick get themselves into. I suppose I like that Nick doesn’t stick to the same crew for each heist he pulls, but this would’ve gone down the toilet had it not been for Boyd. I could have done away with Willie and her power nipples but Boyd was just golden.

Traditionally, books/series that rely on the chemistry between the loose canon hero and the straight and narrow heroine tend to prolong the agony for their readers. Because soon as the will they-or-won’t they stops, the interest will also begin to flag. Supposedly. And as someone who watched and enjoyed lot of mediocre Monster of the Week X-Files episodes while waiting for Mulder and Scully to finally bang, I shouldn’t really mind this overplayed hand. 

But there has to be something about either characters to make them interesting. It’s never a good sign when the reader feels the need to skim over a scene with the towel-clad hero just to get to the next bit where a secondary character turns up. 

ARC provided by RH-Bantam Dell thru Netgalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Quotes may not appear in the final edition.