"I'll send your money, but don't think about running out on me," Dragan said. "Or I'll torture and kill both of you."
Nick shook his head. "You can't go ten minutes without making a threat, can you?"
"It's called leadership," Dragan said. "Stay in touch."
Following the cliff-hanger ending to The Scam, I wondered if this book would shake off the fairly well-established outline for these books and instead, we'd get Kate globe-trotting from exotic locale to exotic locale hunting them down. Thankfully, Evanovich and Goldberg had something better in mind (not that something like my idea wouldn't have been fun), while pretty much sticking to the typical outline.
Nick's kidnapping ends up setting the stage for taking down an international thief and would-be terrorist. This thief, Dragan, is the anti-Nick. He's about profit, violence, and more profit. There's no style, no fun, no zest . . . But Dragan knows what he needs to accomplish a couple of his biggest heists: Nick.
Naturally, he gets more than he bargains for (and I don't just mean Kate). Of the various criminals, masterminds, thieves and all around nasty folks that these two have taken down or encountered, Dragan is the worst. Thankfully, Evanovich and Goldberg are able to balance the threat and the humor, the romance and the robbery.
It all comes down to relationships: which is really why we come back to this series. Kate and Nick (I'm gladdened/relieved/a little surprised by where they have the relationship now). Nick and Jake. Kate and Jake. The rest of the team with Nick and/or Kate. Jake and anyone he comes into contact with (if we could get some young, active duty Jake stories, that'd be awesome). I like the way that their team is doing non-con work together -- despite their best intentions, Nick and Kate have formed an actual team. There are a couple of additions this go-around (one is a blast from the past, but still, new to this side of the road).
I think there's a misfire here -- there's a new foil introduced into Kate's life, an FBI agent who is to work with her without knowing about this little side-project. He's a little humorous, but mostly annoying. And his existence seems to run counter to the people at the top of the FBI sanctioning (however unofficially) what's going on here. I'm prepared for them to convince me otherwise, but until they do, I'm going to groan whenever he shows up.
The writing is crisp as ever, it seems so smooth and effortless that it has to take a lot of work. There's a great info-dump (because that's actually a thing, rare as it may be) about an infectious disease. Not only does it inform the reader, but it's written in a way to flesh out a character and add a sense of threat to the narrative.
There's an editing blunder in the final few chapters that took me out of the moment (using Kate's name instead of one of Dragan's crew), that was oddly reassuring to me -- even the big publishers stumble, not just the small press/self-pubbed guys like I've been reading so much lately.
I can't recall if I've mentioned Harry Harrison's Slippery Jim diGriz when talking about this series, but this is Nick Fox at his Slippery Jimmiest (Kate is a little like Angelina diGriz, too, come to think of it -- but not as much). Fans of either should look into the other. The Pursuit is another solidly entertaining adventure in this series. Really looking forward to what's next.
Oh, I should add that if you're a fan of eggs, you might want to eat a few extra before reading this book, because it'll be tough to eat one for a while. Trust me on this one.