Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
Read in early 2015. Reviewed 6/19/15 on Goodreads.com.
Rating: Three stars. A writer (which I am) or foodie (which I’m not) in particular can relate to the main character, Agnes, who is a food columnist and excellent cook in this delightful novel. Secret agents, body guards, and assassins may relate to Shane, the hitman. Southerners, or those intrigued by the American South (neither am I), might enjoy the bayou setting and cultural descriptions.
Mystery and crime readers should enjoy the detective aspects. Add a bit of the mob, an impending wedding, a psychotic mother of the bride, a love triangle, and a mounting body count to the engaging wit of the narration, and there truly is something for everyone in the story. And steamy sex, don’t forget that.
This is my first Jennifer Crusie read after a friend recommended it, and I did greatly enjoy the book enough to finish it in what for me is a reasonable amount of time (a few months–a personal issue). The pacing and suspense keep the pages turning at a good clip once you’re invested. I would have liked a little more character development, as I found it a bit difficult to sympathize with Agnes without knowing more about her past and what makes her tick, especially considering her presentation as a not-so-perfect protagonist. For me, though, the story and writing make up well for this diluted element.
While I’m glad this wasn’t a bodice-ripper romance novel, as my tastes diverge greatly from that genre, Crusie’s skill at the sex scene invites anticipation for more of them. The narrative voices of Agnes and Shane are compelling, with the aid of co-author Bob Mayer. I likewise have read no other Mayer work. With relatively little experience reading mystery or crime novels either, I found the plot sufficiently complex and unpredictable.
The main reason I gave this 3 instead of 4 stars is that it’s not my preferred type of book or subject matter, but the issues raised above also work to subdue my enjoyment. Overall, it’s a fun and interesting read that kept me smiling, and even laughing here and there, but I’m not tremendously inclined to seek out other Crusie novels as a result. The classics, sci-fi, nonfiction, plays, and poetry are higher priorities on my learning-oriented agenda, along with work by other, preferred novelists.