Tuesday, August 16, 2016

ARC Review: Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

Series:     Knight and Moon #1
Pub. Date:Aug. 16, 2016
Publisher:Bantam Dell
Length:336 pages
Source:NetGalley

I'm a huge fan of the Stephanie Plum series, they never fail to make me donkey laugh out loud. I was excited to see a new series by one of my favorite authors and couldn't get my hands on this ARC fast enough. Unfortunately, this book just didn't feel like Janet Evanovich. 

Riley Moon is a recent grad from Harvard Business and Harvard Law, and she is embarking on a new career as a junior analyst in the field of finance. Scoring a job at one of the world's most prominent banks, Blane-Grunewald. While Riley expected to have to work her way up from the bottom, she didn't expect her first assignment to be babysitting one of the bank's eccentric clients. Riley is oddly referred to as Moonbeam by her superior at the office, who explained that everyone had a nickname... yet the only one suffering from this affliction was Riley.

Emerson Knight is an eccentric enigma known to some as Mr. Mysterioso. Emerson's character was a mix of Adrian Monk and Sherlock Holmes from Elementary. He was intelligent, but odd and quirky. With an estate full of exotic animals (zebras, monkeys, a capybara and an armadillo to name a few), and his penchant for communing in the astral plane, you never quite what to expect from Emerson. 

Based on Riley's extensive and hallowed education, I expected her to be Lucy Liu's Watson to Emerson's Holmes. However, Riley did not come off as a strong and intelligent heroine. She followed Emerson's wacky lead and needed rescuing more often than not. Emerson's character was meant to be the comedy driving the story, but he fell flat most of the time. This story was totally devoid of the laugh-out-loud moments that I have come to expect from Janet Evanovich. I think the comedic effect needed for Emerson's character would translate better to television than it did in this book. That could be a result of Phoef Sutton's background as a television screenwriter... but I would like to more amusing one liners and zany situations than appeared in this first installment.

I don't know where the relationship between Riley and Emerson is headed... but Evanovich is queen of the romantic tease. At this point, there was a only hint of flirting - less than the Lizzy & Diesel pairing and no where near the Morelli/Plum/Ranger triangle. I hope things heat up quickly in the future instead of stringing us along through several books... a romantic entanglement would enrich the plot and may allow the characters to be developed more.

As for the mystery-detective aspect of the book... there were no secrets, not much of a mystery to uncover. You know who the villains are from the get go and pretty much know their scheme from very early on. The entire plot was far-fetched and unbelievable, which I would not have minded if the slapstick comedy would have shown through enough to tickle my funny bone. Unfortunately I just couldn't generate much interest for the story. The most interesting parts involved Area 51 and Groom Lake, which had me doing some wiki-research to find out more.

I'm not writing off the series at this point. There have been several series that I really liked despite not liking the first book... so I look forward to the next Riley and Moon story and hope things improve.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Ballantine Bantam Dell via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.