by Janet Evanovich
In a modern era rife with fresh conspiracy theories promulgated by figures in the highest offices of power, one imagines it takes some self confidence to pen a thriller novel steeped in a vast underground government conspiracy. Fiction can barely live up to reality anymore, unless the fiction grows either ever more prescient or ever more absurd. Only time will tell which fate any given piece of literature might reach.
Thusly, we have Janet Evanovich's thriller mystery novel, featuring recurring characters Riley Moon, amanuensis and employee of Emerson Knight, an absurdly wealthy and handsome man straight out of a romance novel, and who has a hobby of solving mysteries. This one is a doozy. Knight's old friend and erstwhile guru has lost his island in the Pacific, stolen from him and disappeared from the latest Google street view. What ensues is a preposterous, comical, light and entertaining romp across Americas volcanic national parks, full of forboding and death. We're even taunted by the End of the World, brought on by a McGuffin that stretches the bounds of theoretical (seriously) physics. So our romantic mystery thriller teases the edges of science fiction. One doesn't want to give too much away (maybe we already have), there are a lot of surprises and twists along the way, though the tale isn't terribly complex. Meanwhile, a sufficiently sizable element of the prose looks enough like a drunken click-through of Wikipedia as to tax a reader's patience. Characters wax knowledgable about any number of phenomena in a string of scenes violating the writers' tenet: show us, don't tell us. Evanovich might have given her readers (of whom there appear to be millions) more credit for following the story.
So, what you get from this novel may depend upon what you're looking for. It is, as mentioned, a light jaunt through conspiracy, murder and national parks. It has some surprises, even those in which one senses a good opportunity missed. Evanovich is a skilled writer, as evidenced by her success. A fairly good read for a long flight or a nap on the beach. This book was published in 2017 and is the second in a series, the first, Curious Minds, penned jointly with Phoef Sutton.
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