By Janet Evanovich
Janet Evanovich, best known for her numbered series of fluffy mysteries featuring Jersey girl Stephanie Plum, is sure a “funny” woman. Not many authors bring out “lol” moments among their readers, but it looks like this comes darn naturally to Evanovich. This series of Alexandra Barnaby (“Barney” as she is fondly called) is a somewhat fresh read.
Metro Girl is about a Baltimore babe – Alexandra Barnaby. Alex (known to her family as ‘Barney’) grew up in her father’s garage and can disassemble and reassemble engines quicker than most men could open a hood. Working in her father’s garage over the summers and other vacations has instilled her and her brother with a love of cars.
This mystery/comedy (mis)adventure begins with Barney’s quiet life being disrupted by an early morning call from her care-free, frolicking, womanizer brother, telling her that he’s leaving for Miami for a while. His voice is drowned out by a noisy boat engine. And the call is abruptly dropped with the sound of a woman’s scream. So Barney’s “forever-inviting-trouble” brother (“Wild” Bill) seems to be in deep **** and Barney does what any dutiful sister would – run to Miami from Baltimore to save him.
Barney becomes more worried for her brother when she discovers that Bill’s place trashed twice – once before her arrival – and then after her arrival in Miami. Her apartment is mugged too, by a scary goon who threatens to kill her if she does not disclose Bill’s whereabouts.
Barney also learns that he is also accused of running away with NASCAR king Sam Hooker’s two million dollar worth sixty-five foot Hatteras Convertible (Happy Hooker). The fact is that Bill was supposed to steer Hooker’s boat for him over his vacation. But Bill “borrowed” Hooker’s boat in spite of being denied. Bill has now disappeared with his new steamy love – a young Cuban woman, Maria Raffles. Barney also gets to know that a security guard at the marina from which Wild Bill departed was murdered around the time Bill took off.
Sam Hooker tags up with Barney to look for her brother and his boat.
Maria’s grandfather was killed when a boat smuggling a lost treasure (of gold) and a warhead, out of Cuba, was sunk at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Maria’s father had managed to find the location of the boat underwater when he recovered his father’s remains. He kept it a secret because he was thrown into a Cuban prison where he still was held captive. Maria’s mother revealed this information to her while breathing her last. So Maria was abducted, for the information she now knew, by a Cuban mobster – Luis Salzar and Bill had somehow rescued her. Salzar’s boss Puke Face was behind this all.
Also, a super secret US agency was also hot on the trail of the gold and warhead.
Maria wanted to recover the gold and use it to rescue her father from prison. She had planned to turn in the dangerous war head to the US authorities.
Salzar, on the other hand, sought the gold to seal a lucrative Cuban real estate deal and planned to use the deadly warhead as “military leverage” to overthrow Castro and gain political control of Cuba.
Things are super complicated and scary. And it seems like a race against time and a bunch of monstrous men.
Sam is everything a NASCAR driver should be- handsome, hot, arrogant, suave and sexy. Barney is cute, spunky, tomboyish and hilarious. At times I found myself comparing her to Stephanie Plum. They are similar but unique in their own way. Fun, silly and clever when required.
The budding love between Barney and Hooker (wish he had a different surname) is quite “cute”. The plot and the characterization are filled with a good dose of humor, mystery, adventure, action and sex.
Yes, there are quite a few glitches but overall this one accounts for an energetic, fast-paced plot that thickens, stretches, and manages to keep you hooked till the very last line.
You might find a lot of similarity in this series as compared to Evanovich’s Plum series. Though this is high on action and a little low on humor. Overall, a fun read.