It's been mere months since Special Agent Kate O'Hare and Criminal Mastermind Nicholas Fox were paired together by the FBI for an under-the-table set of missions--to go after a class of criminals that operate outside the reach of the law. People so rich and powerful that they can manipulate the legal system so they never have to answer for their crimes, assuming that they are ever caught at all. While the pairing seems to be a match made in heaven, the risk involved is staggering. If either is caught, the FBI will not acknowledge they are acting on behalf of the government and Kate will be considered an agent gone rogue.
Kate and Nick's latest assignment is to retrieve a politically charged/tainted one-of-a-kind piece of art dating to the Qing Dynasty which ended up in the Smithsonian. The piece is part of a collection of 12 Chinese century-old zodiac figure heads which were once mounted on a fountain in the Imperial Gardens. The figures disappeared in 1860 when British and French soldiers pillaged the area. The artifact is estimated to be worth 20 million dollars and unbeknownst to anyone but a trusted few, was stolen from the Smithsonian ten years ago and replaced with a fake. With the Chinese requesting that the figure head be returned to their country as an act of Good faith on the part of the US, its imperative the original rooster be reclaimed. With China being one of the US's biggest lenders, the political fallout if the statue isn't returned could be devastating to American and Chinese relations.
This is the second book in the Fox and O'Hare series written by the fabulously talented authors Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. On a personal level, straight laced Kate is having issues with Nick who appears to be attempting to seduce her with his wit and charm. With each new assignment, he appears to be setting up situations to throw the two together whether it be posing as a married couple or a couple having an affair. He can see the affect he has on her and seems to be unable to stop himself from teasing, tempting and flirting with her. Kate is resisting, but as the two keep getting close and personal she admits to herself it would be easy to fall into his trap and let her defenses fall. She, however, is determined not let that happen.
With each new case, Nick submerges Kate further and further into his lifestyle and world to the point that even her boss notices the effect Nick's influence has on her. She seems to be emerging from her shell and growing as an individual as she quickly learns to adapt to each new situation Nick throws the team into. In some ways I think he's testing her and trying to find out what she's capable of. I kind of liken Nick to what I imagine 007 would be like if he'd lead a life of crime instead of espionage, and I can't help but wonder if he's looking to make Kate his latest bond girl or perhaps something more? For now, however, the relationship is about as platonic as one can get.
In addition to the two main characters having great chemistry, there is also wonderful cohesion among the secondary characters who Nick has hand picked for their unusual talents and abilities. There is Boyd Capwell, a struggling actor who couldn't follow a script to save his life, but can improvise like nobody's business. Wilma 'Willie' Owens is a 50 something divorcee who, as Kate puts it, could be turned on by grass growing and has never met a vehicle she couldn't drive. She just has a knack for it. Then there is Joe Morey, a tech expert who was black balled from the industry after being fired from his job for being a whistle blower. He was down graded to a lowly Geek Squad employee when his life was shot to hell by the experience. Yes, I don't deny there are some similarities between the series and Ocean's Eleven, but this group is utilizing their talents for things on a somewhat grander scale.
Overall, Evanovich and Goldberg did an awesome job of creating a funny, fast paced series that grabs the readers attention and doesn't let it go until the last word is written. I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. A highly entertaining and delightful series that I recommend to anyone who wants a series that lifts their spirits and puts them in a good mood. Something I was desperately in need of, so thank you Janet and Lee for creating such a fun and wonderful read.
According to Wikipedia, "The Qing Dynasty (Chinese:清朝; pinyin: Qīng Cháo;Wade–Giles: Ch'ing1 Ch'ao2;IPA: [tɕʰíŋ tʂʰɑ̌ʊ̯]), also Empire of the Great Qing, Great Qingor Manchu Dynasty, was the last imperial dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and succeeded by the Republic of China. The Qing multi-cultural empire lasted almost three centuries and formed the territorial base for the modern Chinese nation." You can read more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qing_Dynasty