Lost and Found
Lost and Found is a hardback by Jayne Ann Krentz that takes her farther from the romance genre and deeper into the arenas of mystery and suspense. While earlier releases are romances with suspense or mystery sub-plots, this new release is the reverse; the romance definitely takes a backseat to the elaborate mystery/suspense plotline.
Longtime widower Mack Easton runs an art recovery service and hires Cady Briggs for her expertise in the decorative arts. After a recovery operation goes wrong, Mack and Cady come together for a night of passion, which ends when Cady discovers that Mack suspects her of wrongdoing.
After Cady inherits her Aunt Vesta’s shares in the Chatelaine Gallery, she hires Mack to help confirm her suspicions that Vesta was murdered. Cady believes her aunt was murdered because Vesta had been working to prevent the merger of the gallery to a long-time competitor.
The beginning of the book is choppy; characters and plot points are detailed in a hop-skip-and-jump manner. Not only is this switching of characters confusing, it also prevents the reader from getting to know the two protagonists. One of JAK’s greatest strengths has always been in the creation of couples that “click” and work together to solve a mystery. That strength is not on view for much of Lost and Found; indeed, I didn’t feel that connection between Cady and Mack until the final third of the book. The mystery definitely takes precedence over the romance, which may disappoint readers who prefer Krentz’s earlier work.
On the other hand, the secondary characters are well crafted and the mystery plot here is interesting. The author makes good use of the San Fransisco setting. Of particular interest is a sub-plot involving Mack’s daughter Gabriella and a computer whiz. They were a lot of fun and had this sub-plot been more fully developed, the book would have been better. Gabriella was certainly a high point in the book; her relationship with her father was quite touching. If only the same care in crafting their relationship had been in evidence where Mack and Cady were concerned; as it was, Cady’s constantly referring to Mack as “Fantasy Man” was annoying.
After I finished reading this book, I happened across a rave review in People magazine. In that review, the “fast-reading mystery” was praised and the the “routine” romance was panned. While that magazine’s readers may not be bothered much by a “routine” romance, for me it’s a very big deal. This couple just were not on the same wavelength for too much of the book, not what I’m looking for in a JAK release. Yes, once they finally did level with one another and connect emotionally, I began to like them a lot, but it was too late. Also missed was the clever dialogue and running jokes that can be found in the best works by this author. The verbal gymnastics just fell flat in Lost and Found.
Based on my expectations going in to this book, I would grade the romance a D, and give a B to the mystery aspects, for an average grade of C. Perhaps it is unfair to judge a book based on the author’s past work and her readers’ expectations, but when I am shelling out $23.95 for a hardback I have to feel I am going to get my money’s worth. This time I did not. What is more worrisome is that as JAK is experiencing great success in the mystery/suspense genre, the romance is going to continue to be sublimated in her books. I hope JAK will be able to combine the two with a stronger couple in her next outing, and make both old and new fans happy.