The Chase Review
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Author Janet Evanovich may be best known for writing the ongoing adventures of New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, but the prolific author always seems to have something else in the works, from romance to non-fiction. And in The Chase, her second Fox and O’Hare novel with co-author Lee Goldberg, she ditches her signature humor and opts for a more straight-laced crime thriller.

The story follows FBI agent Kate O’Hare as she once again teams up with the most unlikely partner: con artist Nick Fox. Officially, O’Hare arrested Fox, only to have him escape. Unofficially, he was offered a deal and allowed to go free in exchange for working covertly with the FBI.

In their latest assignment, Fox and O’Hare are sent to recover a stolen piece of art before the copy that’s been on display at the Smithsonian is returned to China and discovered to be a fake. But their quest for the stolen art is just the beginning of their undercover adventures.

If the basic concept behind the Fox and O’Hare series sounds familiar, that’s because you may have seen it on TV. The idea is strikingly similar to the one behind USA’s White Collar, which follows the ongoing adventures of a suave art thief who’s paired with a by-the-book FBI agent. There are just two major differences here. First, the characters’ pairing allows for some additional romantic tension. Though it’s not a major part of the story, it’s an underlying element. And, second, the duo’s work together is completely off the books—so they’re almost entirely on their own. When it comes to the planning and execution of each assignment, anything goes. And if anything goes wrong, the stakes are high. For that reason, the derivative setup is easy to forgive—because the action and suspense of each new adventure make up for the lack of originality.

The Chase isn’t just about one assignment. It doesn’t go into the finer details of the preparation, holding readers in suspense as the characters put together their team and work out their plan. This isn’t Ocean’s Eleven. Instead, it’s a series of capers—one action-packed adventure after another, with very little time to catch your breath in between. So while it may not be as intellectually satisfying as a more detailed caper, it’s generally livelier and more spirited—and that’s a fair trade-off.

The only thing that’s truly missing from The Chase is Evanovich’s signature spunk. The story is light and entertaining, and the characters have their own individual personalities, but they simply aren’t as quirky or as fun as the characters in most of the best-selling author’s other books. So if you pick up a copy expecting Evanovich’s usual action-packed wackiness, you might feel a bit let down by the relative seriousness of the story.

Of course, that’s not to say that The Chase is dull. It’s a non-stop crime caper, featuring a couple of interesting characters who find themselves in one tricky situation after another. But if you’re in the mood for some crime-fighting silliness, you might want to pick up a Stephanie Plum novel instead.

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