REVIEW: The Heist by M.J. Rose and C.W. Gortner
To catch a leopard wear diamonds.
A year after THE BAIT, Ania Thorne is on the prowl. Gone into hiding, she’s planned her next move to perfection, intent on winning her dangerous game of cat-against-cat with the Leopard. But Ania doesn’t know that even the best-laid heists have hidden flaws.
Jerome Curtis has taken a job at a Hollywood movie studio to try and put his life back together. When a familiar face from the past shows up unexpectedly, Jerome realizes that much as he’s tried to forget her, there’s no escaping Ania. And this time, what she’s about to do could be her doom.
The heist is on. Jerome must join with Ania again to bring down the mastermind thief who’s dead-set on not getting caught. Passion and vengeance collide as father and daughter bait each other in a high-stakes gambit, with Jerome caught in the middle. Because no matter how much Ania has tried to keep her lover safe, she’s only brought him back into the center of her ploy— and the Leopard intends to take full advantage of it.
From the glamour of late 1950s Hollywood to a desperate chase in the ravines of Los Angeles, two leopards must hunt each other to the end. And only one of them can bring down its prey.
THE HEIST is the thrilling conclusion in the To Catch A Leopard series, a dramatic romantic caper that began with THE STEAL and THE BAIT.
Note – This is not a series that can be read out of order.
Dear M.J. Rose and C.W. Gortner,
Another year has slipped by since Ania and Jerome crossed paths with the Leopard in glittering Venice in “The Bait.”. And that’s after this icy beauty, who has been raised to take over the family jewelry designing business, and the rumpled investigator first met in Cannes in “The Steal” when the Leopard stole the Thorne jewelry designed by Ania which was going to be worn by the elite of Hollywood at the film festival.
When Ania discovered who the Leopard was, she knew she had to trap him. Her first plan failed and almost got Jerome tossed into a Venetian jail. Now Ania’s got a new plan which is to use two new suites of jewels that she’s designed to be worn by a Hollywood actress who has been nominated for an Oscar. Ostensibly, the jewels are to show off Ania’s designs and quietly see to mending the rift that occurred when she was unable to loan Thorne pieces at Cannes. In reality, Ania plans to use them as bait that she knows the Leopard will be unable to resist. Then Ania will spring the trap and catch him. Unknown to her, Jerome has been hired to guard those very same jewels while the actress is wearing them to the Oscar parties.
The two have got a lot of fences to mend as Ania, used to working alone, took off from Venice to keep Jerome out of danger. Since she didn’t tell Jerome that and has broken all communications with him, he’s angry, frustrated, and also determined to finally bring the Leopard to justice. Everyone is, to put it bluntly, looking to end this cat and mouse game. The Leopard has daringly managed to carry off the thefts of priceless jewels around the world and get away with it. So who is going to win?
Overall, the emphasis of the series has been on the caper and the glamour of late 1950s Cannes, Venice, and Los Angeles. There is a romance but to me it’s taken second place. The first book had little, the second book a lot, and in the third Ania and Jerome are separated for almost 2/3 of the book although they think of each other constantly. They do have a lovely day-long interlude while they play tourists and see the sights of Los Angeles. Jerome finally sees Ania relaxed and knows that this is the woman he loves. It’s obvious that Ania loves Jerome even if she hasn’t admitted it to herself yet. Here’s the rare case of the woman holding out longer on the ILY’s.
One thing that I found annoying is the fact that Ania has been brooding, thinking, and planning for a year about the next move she wants to make to catch the Leopard. In the first sections of the story, through Ania’s first-person POV, we learn her meticulous plans. Yet when the rubber meets the road, she’s all “I didn’t plan for this” or “now someone doing that has completely ruined my plan!” It makes her look silly and ineffectual.
Some other fun past characters such as Lauren Segal and Luke, the impeccably dressed right hand man at Thorne, show up. There’s also an amusing scene in which one character chases after others through the canyon roads using a station wagon. And of course the glamour of Hollywood is everywhere. The ending was, to me, a bit anticlimactic. Yes, the stolen jewelry is found – using Jerome’s knowledge gained hunting down Nazis after the end of World War II – and plans are made to try and set things right but I was hoping for a bit more definite wrap up and feeling that the Leopard won’t be back to his old tricks. I could also have used a touch more reassurance that Ania had moved past this episode in her life and was ready to settle down, even a little, with the man who loves her. B-