The Recovery Agent: A Novel (1) (A Gabriela Rose Novel)

Image of The Recovery Agent: A Novel (1) (The Recovery Agent Series)
Release Date: 
March 22, 2022
Atria Books
Reviewed by: 

“a great diversion from Evanovich’s long-running Stephanie Plum series, and a laugh-out-loud impossible adventure.”

With the release of its paperback version, The Recovery Agent takes a second opening bow. Janet Evanovich offers this as “first in a new series,” featuring Gabriela Rose and her wild career (and love life) challenges. It’s a great diversion from Evanovich’s long-running Stephanie Plum series, and a laugh-out-loud impossible adventure.

Some aspects will feel familiar: Like Stephanie Plum, Gabriela (“Gabs” to her ex-husband) relies on the strong women who’ve loved her: her mother, her grandmother. Plus, a recovery agent is someone paid to retrieve lost, stolen, or vanished items, not so different from Plum’s career path. On the other hand, Gabriela grew up in a Southern coastal village—couldn’t be much more different from Plum’s New Jersey—handles automatic weapons and Internet searches with astounding skill, and has no intention of letting her ex-husband Rafer back into her bed.

That doesn’t stop Gabs from appreciating Rafer’s brains, bravery, and body, and he’s clearly ready to tag along with her for the sake of loyalty and love, not just lust (good thing, because she’s really not going there). Count on Evanovich to spin that situation into luscious descriptions of sensual appreciation!

Here’s a capsule version of Gabriela’s past: “She’d suffered frostbite, altitude sickness, food poisoning, and several disappointing one-night stands. And while all these calamities were upon her, she was always propelled forward by the drip, drip, drip of adrenaline that accompanied the chase and by the determination that she would capture the prize.”

In this series debut, Gabriela’s motivation is more intense, because her parents and grandmother, and her grandmother’s advisory ghost friend Annie, require her services: Their hometown of Scoon is emptying out, thanks to poverty and hurricane damage, and Gabriela needs to save the family home. Annie the ghost has announced the multimillion-dollar prize that will solve the crisis: There’s a pirate treasure chest buried under an earlier family home (Gabs descends from Blackbeard the pirate). In it should be a map leading to treasure, to rescue all of them.

Although Gabriela takes that on, her first problem is that the structure now belongs, as a result of her divorce, to her ex-husband. She’s kept a key, so it’s not actually housebreaking, right? But when Rafer discovers her there, he insists on joining the treasure hunt. His property, his map. Also his unquenched love and attraction in terms of Gabs, even though the two of them fought constantly in their two years of marriage. Can they now co-lead a treasure hunt?

If you’re sensitive about Hispanic images and caricatures, you might want to avoid this book, because from here on, dialogue reflects a movie-script version for the men who guide Gabriela and Rafer through Caribbean island danger and then South American explorations that pit them against a obsessed drug lord who thinks he’s working for the powers of evil. Of course, the “good guys,” especially Pepe and Caballo, have combat skills and quick thinking that could be said to balance out the ethnic portraits—there are certainly plenty of chuckles ahead even in the midst of danger, because that’s quintessential Evanovich. Put it this way: You’ve already suspended disbelief when Gabriela and Rafer whipped up airplanes, helicopters, dive boats, and a family ghost—so if you’re in the mood for her “Indiana Jones-type” adventure, you’ll have to also let Caballo and Pepe’s accents and attitudes (of course, they are raising coca, not coffee!) slide past.

Besides, don’t you want to find out whether this adaptable combat couple can retrieve the Seal of Solomon, and why the ring might not work as well as expected for the bad guy, El Dragón? And whether Rafer can get Gabs to share her bed, of course. Will it help if he’s naked when running the laundry for her? No promises.

Here’s one last line to demonstrate the kind of road you’re on with this “recovery agent,” at the first treasure stop where Dan Thompson resists: “This all sounds fishy. It’s not my first rodeo, you know. You’re not the first ones to try to find my secret island.” Someone should let him know that Gabriela has too much confidence (and weapons skills) to let that stop her.