As someone attached to the Sparrow franchise, I'm always looking for new material about heists and scams to compare with the cleverest con man in literature. So, naturally, I was attracted to this title. Simple and succinct - The Heist.
I had a few Audible credits left over after listening to Episodic Sleep Disorders, so I picked up this book by Janet Evanovich. I expected to like her, especially after I found out that she was one of the writers on my favorite comedic detective series, Monk. I wasn’t disappointed.
The Heist is the groundbreaking first novel in Evanovich’s Fox and O’Hare series. Read that again, and groan with me: another cliched pairing of last names. I suppose I should have expected that from a former T.V. screenwriter.
If you are looking for an exciting new mystery/thriller series featuring a strong female protagonist, then The Heist is a good place to start. Here are the rest of the Fox and O’Hare books in order:
Looking at the titles, I think it’s safe to assume that the plot and storyline will be formulaic with a little character development thrown in. This isn’t necessarily bad—many successful mystery and thriller series have capitalized on this style of writing. Despite my few criticisms of The Heist, I enjoyed listening to it, and I will probably continue the series.
Let’s get to the review!
The Bad: Saved by the Dad
Let’s start with the characters. We have three main characters: the protagonist, and the two men in her life (Father and romantic interest. Once again, very formulaic).
The female protagonist is a former Navy SEAL, despite the unfortunate reality that there has never been a female Navy SEAL before. It’s not impossible that this could happen, though, so we accept it and move on. She’s also a deadly hand-to-hand combatant and skilled shooter, and highly proficient investigator for the FBI. Of course, her love-life suffers due to her professionalism, despite being described as quite attractive.
The partner throughout the main story is a charismatic and self-assured con man and high stakes art/jewel thief. He always has a plan, and always has an escape plan if it doesn’t work.
If these were the only two characters, then we would have a subtle rip-off of any number of successful movies. But the author decides to mix it up a little by inserting the Father into this story. The Father (he gets a capital letter) is an ex-Marine. If you don’t know any ex-Marines in your personal life, you will probably enjoy this book immensely. I know a few ex-Marines, and I think they are outstanding citizens—but I don’t know a single one of them who has a vast network of global assets who can arrange stealth parachute insertions, covert weapons drops, and hostage extractions at the drop of a hat.
As you can imagine, with a dad like this, who needs friends? All of the other characters in the book suddenly become superfluous.
The Good: The Heist Execution
Rick & Morty recently made fun of formulaic heist TV shows/movies, and made a pretty good case against them. They always have the assembly of a motley gang of reluctant criminals, the expository description of the heist, and the surprise twist.
Evanovich’s The Heist strays from this formula, and that makes it better in just about every way.
First of all, the heist crew isn’t made up of seasoned experts in criminal undertakings. Most of the crew members are simply civilian experts in their various fields, but with an axe to grind against rich and corrupt leaders in the world of finance.
Without a doubt, my favorite part involved the out-of-work actor pretending to be a crime lord who had kidnapped a lawyer. Evanovich thoroughly thinks out every manipulative little detail in his performance. Frankly, it’s something even Sparrow would be proud of.
The Recommendation: 4 / 5 Stars.
It might be a little unoriginal, and the Marine Father figure might be a little unrealistic, but when you get to the last page you realize that you enjoyed the story and The Heist itself was planned out well. I think I can recommend this book (or audio book) for the vast majority of readers, whether fans of mysteries, thrillers, or spy novels.
If you have read the other Fox and O’Hare books in this series, please leave comments below (but keep them spoiler-free, please, for everyone else)! We’d all love to know how the characters develop in future books. And don’t forget to subscribe using the e-mail form at the bottom of the page to get the latest news about Sparrow’s heists and cons!