It’s getting embarrassing having to admit yet again that I haven’t done much reading in the past month. But I’m just going to have to accept that, every once in a while, there will be moments in life where concentrating on a book will just not be possible. I defended my PhD thesis in July, and am currently trying to get final revisions done, but I’m looking forward to being able to shift my reading/writing focus to something less academic by the end of August.

In today’s post, I’m going to summarize two books that I’ve been reading this month, even though I haven’t yet finished one of them. Both were selected because they fulfill one of the categories in the Toronto Public Library’s reading challenge for 2019: “two books with the same or very similar titles”. In this case, both books were titled The Heist.

The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

I’m a big fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series and have read every single one of those books. However, I have limited experience with her other series. This particular book marks the novel debut of her “Fox & O’Hare” series, co-written with Lee Goldberg. Given my love of Evanovich’s other work, and my familiarity with Lee Goldberg as the writer for MONK, I had a feeling I would like this book. … And I was right!

It was a breezy read with just the right amount of suspense and humour. The book revolves around FBI agent Kate O’Hare who is paired up with con artist Nick Fox for a top-secret mission to recover money from a fraudster who fled the country just prior to his scheduled arrest. The two work together to play out an elaborate con and eventually get their man. I can’t wait to read more of their adventures!

The Heist: A Novel by Daniel Silva

I have never read anything by Daniel Silva before, and while he’s not a bad writer and clearly very popular, I’m coming to the realization that maybe I just don’t like male authors. There’s something to be said about men wanting a more action-packed narrative, but I feel like in this case it’s done to the detriment of character development.

The story revolves around art restorer and former spy, Gabriel Allon, who is recruited to help solve the murder of a man who appears to have been involved in the stolen art trade. However, many of the characters (including Gabriel Allon) seem a bit too two-dimensional, and it’s consequently hard for me to care about how the story plays out.

Moreover, there are long sections of exposition about art history and the business of art restoration that I could really do without. (Authors: I appreciate that you have to do a lot of research to ensure your books are accurate and realistic, but I’m really not looking for an academic lecture when I pick up a novel.)

I’m about one quarter into the book and am seriously debating whether to finish it or not. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was reading this as part of a reading challenge, I probably wouldn’t have given it that much thought. For the sake of the reading challenge, I’ll try to persevere. But I’ll definitely think twice next time I consider picking up a thick book by a male author.

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