I wanted to like this. I really, really, really did. But I couldn’t. Mom and Aunt both loved it, said it was laugh out loud funny, that Janet had finally come back after kind of veering off there with Stephanie and Ranger and Joe awhile ago. But I just didn’t love it. I don’t even think I really liked it.
Sutton (who co-writes the Lizzy and Diesel series) and Evanovich’s new series – because it’s of course going to be a series – is about Riley Moon, a junior analyst at the mega bank of Blane-Grunwald. She’s Harvard-educated, and the blurb says that her “aggressive Texas spitfire attitude” helped her land the job, which she just started as the novel opens. She’s thrilled with the new job, although she isn’t sure about her first assignment: babysit billionaire werido Emerson Knight, who is insisting that the bank show him the family gold. But she figures it’s no problem – she’ll take him to the bank, show him the gold, and that will be that.
Except there are shenanigans afoot at Blane-Grunwald and the gold is “unavailable for viewing”. In the quest to find the Knight family gold, Riley and Emerson uncover an Dr. Evil-like plot with the bank stealing the gold of other countries and attempting to devalue the dollar, somehow allowing the head Grunwald to take over the world. There are also explosions, a dead body, some visits to Area 51 (cause everyone knows that there are no aliens out there, just gold), and a few wild animals running loose on the Knight estate.
So here are some of my many beefs with the book. First of all, I never got the feeling that Riley was an “aggressive spitfire”. She was kind of mamby-pamby, as my mother would say. Which I recognize isn’t a real word, but I’m sure you can figure out what she means. I mean, she could shoot a gun and could think her way out of a situation, but she never really gelled as the character I either wanted her to be or Janet envisioned. Secondly, Emerson was supposed to be eccentric, but what he really was was an amalgamation of several different eccentricities and none of them added up. It was like Evanvoich just looked up eccentric characteristics on line and picked a few unrelated ones. I think he was supposed to be charmingly weird, but instead he was just…weird. Thirdly, I didn’t really understand the whole devalue-the-dollar-take-over-the-world plot. Maybe that’s cause I don’t really get how money works, beyond the basic plot points of knowing that I need it, my kid spends it, and I never seem to have enough of it. Do other countries really have piles of gold bars in reserve? And do they really keep them locked in the basement storage vaults of an American bank? That seems…ill-advised. It feels like a lot could go wrong there.
But I think my biggest issue was that there was just no heat between Riley and Emerson. All of Evanovich’s duos have a spark, witty repartee, or some sort of chemistry. All of them. And Riley and Emerson were, quite frankly, about as sexy as Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson. I mean, if Ned Nickerson had pet zebras and a fast car. And was less of a stick-in-the-mud. And less boring. I kind of never liked Ned. Anyway, Stephanie and Ranger and Morelli all have fantastic chemistry. Kate and Nick from the Fox and O’Hare series have great snarky comments back and forth. And even Lizzy and Diesel are hot, especially when he just appears the way he does. But Riley and Emerson did nothing for me. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
When I made the blah face to Mom about this one, she reminded me that One for the Money wasn’t all that great right out of the gate, which makes me want to go back and read it again and reevaluate. And maybe this is Janet’s set up to what will eventually be a good series. I’ll give it one more go for the next one, but she’s got to ratchet up the snark and heat and humor. And tone down the twee expressions that Riley uses. (“Crap on a cracker”? Um, no.)
Also? They’re doing the James Patterson thing where the font gets bigger, the chapters get shorter, and still charging $21.95 for a hardback. This is not a $21.95 book.
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