Monday, October 27, 2008

Hot Ice by Nora Roberts ***

I took a really long time to listen to this audio book because, well, it just wasn't that compelling a listen, even with Anna Fields as the narrator.

Whitney is an ice-cream company heiress driving home from the airport after a trip to France when Doug, a professional thief, jumps in her car asking for help escaping the Bad Guys. The Bad Guys are trying to grab him and the 200-year-old letters he carries which are reputed to guide them to jewels once owned by Marie Antoinette, the unfortunate French queen who lost her head to a guillotine. Doug had stolen the letters for Really Bad Guy Dimitri, but learned Dimitri was double-crossing him, so he's making his getaway, and planning to find the jewels himself.

Doug has a reputation as a really good thief but he's known for just spending his take and then moving on to the next job - he's never really been fixed for life. This job will be his last - the Big One - the one that ends his thieving days and sets him up to be what he's always wanted to be: a chef/restaunteur. Whitney's reputation is bored trust-fund baby, and this little lark is just what she needs to liven up her life a little. Unfortunately for Doug, he needs her to bankroll his journey, so he reluctantly agrees to take her as a partner - the money-carrying partner.

I'm not sure if it's Anna Fields' narration (which I usually love) or just the tone of the book, but frankly Whitney is annoying as hell. I kept thinking if I heard her call him Douglas one more time, I was gonna go through the earphones and smack her. Doug wasn't much more likable - and frankly, I never really felt their chemistry, and apparently neither did they, because they were together for quite a while before giving into the inevitable... well, it just didn't seem very inevitable but eventually they did give in and Do It. Yawn.

I'm not sure if I've read any more cartoony Bad Guys than Remo and Barnes and Dimitri - again, could it have been Fields' voices for them, or is that just how they come across in dialog regardless of the reader? I kept trying to imagine them actually keeping just 2 steps behind Doug and Whitney, dressed in suits and ties in the Madagascar jungles. (Huh?)

Oh, the plot, right - D and W hot foot it to Madagascar where the 200-year-old letter/diary says the loot is buried. These remarkable letters - the originals, mind you - take a licking and keep on ticking. They get submerged in water, taken out and refolded and handled and kept in the back jeans pockets. Wow, they musta used some really good paper back then. And although they point vaguely to where the jewels are buried, it takes some remarkable coincidences and incredibly intuitive detective work to locate them, and a twist I saw a mile or 10 away to rescue Doug and Whitney from the Bad Guys in the end.

OK, I enjoyed it enough to finish it, so it rated 3 stars, but it wasn't anything special and maybe doesn't even rate an credit, even with one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite narrators.

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