Always a Thief
In Always A Thief, Kay Hooper’s prose seems to be coated with Teflon. I found my eyes gliding over the words at a breakneck speed, and in the end, almost none of them stuck. While the story zips along amiably enough, by the end the most suspenseful question was whether the plot or the characters would prove to be more bland. (The plot takes it, but it’s a photo finish.)
Quinn is a notorious uninomial (one-named) cat burglar who we first encounter following a mysterious figure from rooftop to rooftop until his quarry turns and shoots him. He staggers to the apartment of Morgan West, a museum administrator who has crossed paths with Quinn on the job before, and struck sparks every time. She tends to his wounds and learns from her boss that Quinn is working with Interpol to protect the exhibition she has just organized from another, more lethal burglar called Nightshade.
The story is a combination suspense-romance-mystery, and like many such hybrids, it makes an unsatisfying compromise between the genres, ending up neither fish nor fowl, but instead some species of tofu. Quinn and Morgan are too undistinguished to shore up a good romance – they’re virtually interchangeable with Max, Jared, Storm, and what I presume are other once or future couples from other installments of this series. A pure romance would have zestier sex scenes, too. On the other hand, while a good mystery/suspense novel might get away with these pallid made-for-TV-movie characterizations (and many, of course, go well beyond that standard) few authors in those genres would be content to barely scratch the surface of the museum setting, nor would they spin such a drab plot that leaves its most compelling mysteries to be resolved in another book.
Judging by the enthusiastic reviews this author has received from several of my colleagues, I suspect this novel is not representative of Kay Hooper’s best work. It’s hard to imagine what a book this slight can have gained in the transition from series romance to suspense novel other than empty calories. If you’re looking for an undemanding read that moves along as slick as a luge track, this book is worth a look. If you’re hoping for something more substantial you’ll be better served elsewhere.