Thursday, September 27, 2007

Agnes and the Hitman, Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Title: Agnes and the Hitman
Author: Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
Published: 2007, St. Martin's
Category: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 8/10

I was not overly impressed with the first Mayer/Crusie book (though it wasn't bad), so I had planned to get this book from the library. But then I saw these good reviews everywhere. And then I found out that to reserve a book at my new library, you have to pay $1! OMGWTF? I know a buck's not much, but it's a PUBLIC LIBRARY. It's supposed to be free. I used to reserve about 5 books at once and just go pick them up when they had all been nicely set aside for me by those lovely Brooklyn librarians. (AHA! Something I miss about Brooklyn! Take note.)

Sorry for the tangent. Anyway, I ended up buying Agnes and the Hitman and I can't say I'm sorry. Because I had a great time reading it.

Agnes Crandall has just bought the house of her dreams with her fiance. The previous owner gave her a deal, saying that she'd waive the first three months' mortgage payments if Anges let her daughter (who also happens to be a very good friend of Agnes) have her wedding at the house. But then the problems come fast and furious -- people keep breaking in and trying to kidnap her dog; the first of these dog-nappers is accidentally killed by falling into a basement Agnes didn't know existed, which contains a vault that might or might not contain a twenty-years-dead mobster and $5 million; the bride and groom are having mutual cold feet; Agnes's fiance is a putz, and she has a temper that manifests itself in frying pan incidents. The "hitman" of the title is Shane, who is called in to help protect Agnes and ends up all tied up in the craziness.

This book was like Don't Look Down in many ways; any Crusie/Mayer collaboration is going to be a sort of odd combo of Crusie's screwball romantic comedy and Mayer's adventure/boys with toys (and really big guns) suspense. It took a while to get my head around it -- I started out reading happily in Crusie-mode and then . . . someone dies, and I'm all surprised. Twin actually tried to read this and the violence put her off within the first 20 pages. It's not actually very graphic at all, but there are a lot of deaths and those deaths are treated with a levity that is disturbing to me if I think too hard about it. But then the hero is a hit man, so what can you expect?
"We work for a very special organization," Shane said, trying to sound noble.
"That sounds so . . . UNICEF-ish." She looked back toward the kitchen [where a body is being removed]. "It's not UNICEF, is it?"
As screwball comedy it totally worked. Tons of crazy stuff going on, all of it wrapping up really nicely to a surprising ending. It takes place over a short period (4 days, I think), so the action is fast. And the romance worked so, so, so much better in this than in Don't Look Down. The problem in DLD was that you have this very cautious, sensible woman falling into bed and then into love with a man within 48 hours of meeting him. Agnes on the other hand is just the sort of volatile, headstrong woman who could SPOILER! bash her cheating fiance on the head with a frying pan and then be so angry that she has to get it out of her system by boinking her bodyguard. End of spoiler. I loved Cranky Agnes, and I bought in to the romance completely.

And there's really good food in the book. Agnes is a food columnist and there are many scenes that made me want to eat, eat, eat. Mmmphm. Yummy.


Dev said...

Oh yes, this is on my wishlist. I'm actually 3rd in the queue to get it at the library.

Marg said...

I read this not too long ago and really, really enjoyed it!

nath said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it too Jennie!! I think you're the first one to see some of Bob Mayer in it and now that you bring it to attention, it's true that Shane's profession is not very Crusie-heroes-like.

I do agree I didn't really like Shane's job... but I guess it has to be done.

and I'm sorry you have to pay to reserve books at your library. i guess your library is smaller than what it used to be in NY right? At my library, you can rent a book for 1 or 2$ for a week... I guess it's faster than reserving books since there's line-ups.

Megan Frampton said...

I feel personally responsible that you didn't like Brooklyn so much. Yes, self-absorbed that I am, that is what I remember from your post.

I am such an idiot.

I didn't care for DLD that much, maybe I will give this one another try.

jmc said...

My county-wide library system charges $1 for hold/reserves that are shipped to my local branch for me. But if I call the branch that owns the book I want, they'll hold it for free for me to come pick up. So I think the $1 is mostly for the cost of, this is a relatively recent thing, because when I first got my library card, all holds/reserves were free.

Oddly, ILL books are still free, even though they are coming from outside the local system and probably cost much more to ship.

Wendy said...

$1 seems really high to me. Where I work, we charge a $0.25 fee which you pay AFTER you check out the book. So if you reserve a title, and don't pick it up within 7 days (for whatever reason) you don't pay.

Most libraries have gone the "charge for holds" route due to budget cuts, gas-price increases etc. Personally I feel it's better to "nickel and dime" people so they don't notice it so much. You don't notice $0.25, you DO notice $1.

Mollie said...

Glad you liked it! I'd had to think you splurged for a hardcover and didn't end up liking it (especially when I was pimping it!)

You should be outraged for having to pay to reserve books. It's a PUBLIC library! That's the point for those who don't have the money/means to buy what they want they should have free access to it at a library. I don't care where it's a romance, mystery, or a classic if you want it you should be able to get it w/o being charged. I think Wendy's right makes a good point too!

Sorry you have to pay. That sucks!

Kristie (J) said...

I wasn't tempted by the first collaboration they wrote, but I've seen good buzz on this one. I'll still wait for it to come out in PB though.
And I guess just think of that $1 going towards the library buying more books *g*.

C2 said...

Eek! Blogger ate my comment. It wasn't very insightful - just that I liked Agnes way more than DLD. It flowed better, says me. And paying for library books sucks. ;-)

avidbookreader said...

I recently bought it after reading Nath's review. I said, what the heck. Can't wait to dive into it. Keishon

ames said...

I have a feeling that this is going to be the review to break the camel's back. LOL I've been putting off buying this...but now I want it!

Plus, I'm #57 on the library waiting list. Ugh.

ReneeW said...

Wow, I stunned that your library charges to hold books! And a $1 too! Yikes, I'd be in big trouble. My library doesn't charge and now I'm scared they may start. It's a county wide system and they have a fabulous collection. The voters approved a library bond about a year ago and it passed by a wide margin. So hopefully they won't have charge EVER.

This book sounds good though. And I like DLD. I may have to put this on my list.

Jennie said...

Dev--I hope you get it soon, it's a lot of fun.

Marg--It made me laugh harder than anything I've read in a long time. :)

Nath--You have to rent books from your library! Oh no! That's so sad. You should write to your congressman (or whatever elected official you have up there in Canada).

Megan--Lol. I shouldn't say I don't miss it, because I do in some ways. The library is a big one. The library system here is really small and their collection is okay, but nothing compared to Brooklyn. And I also miss the food--we ordered Thai the other day, and I was like THIS IS NOT THAI!! Sniff. No bagels worth eating here either. WHAAAA!

But yes, you should try Agnes--it's very funny.

JMC--There is sadly only one branch to the library here (and this after me being used to the 60 branches of the Brooklyn library and 80-ish of the Manhattan system). So they couldn't be charging for transportation costs. I shouldn't mind, I do want to support my library. But it still sucks. They get enough of my money on late fees. :)

Wendy--25 cents sounds much more reasonable to me. I should just suck it up though, I know that libraries in general are struggling with budget cuts. But the library here is actually really strong -- someone told me that they have one of the highest circulation rates (is that the right term?) in the country.

Mollie--I always worry about that too, when someone buys a book on my recommendation. What if they don't like it?! But this was great.

Kristie--That is how I should think of it, but then I think, my taxes should pay for those books! Eh, I am so cheap. ;)

C2--Yeah, I was much happier with Agnes than DLD. And it seems like most other people agree. I wonder if they're doing any more books together? I need to check their website.

Keishon--I hope you like it!

Ames--Ugh, #57! Boo. Well, it's being discounted at most of the big chain stores, if that helps any. But even with 30% off, it's still pretty expensive. And you're on your new buying rules! Lol.

Renee--I always just took reserving books for granted, so I was really surprised when I was told I'd have to pay. I don't know what to think about it, I'm torn between indignation about having to pay for any kind of added service in a public library and understanding that the library needs support. But mostly I'm just annoyed.

nath said...

LOL, no, I don't rent book at my library, I never use the library nowadays, cos the selection is not very good. but you can rent book at the library... i guess it's faster sometimes... at least, 1$ is not too much considering a hardcover usually cost 30+$

Linda Esser said...

We are three romance fiction readers who are interested in finding out more about readers like ourselves. What began as a conversation over coffee has turned into a project that has taken on a life of its own. We’ve explored public librarians’ attitudes toward romance fiction and its readers on both state and national levels with research funded by a grant from Romance Writers of America (

Of course, the more we’ve found out, the more questions we have. We’ve reached the point where we need answers to several of these questions from romance readers. We are interested in romance fiction readers as both consumers and conservators of the genre. From what we’ve found, romance fiction readers do not depend on public libraries for their books. We would like to better understand where romance fiction readers acquire their books, why they prefer particular sources, and what they do with their books after reading them. We appreciate your time and consideration.

Our questions:
• What are your preferred sources for the romance fiction you read?
• Why do you choose these sources rather than or in addition to public libraries?
• Do you keep all or some of the books you read? How do you decide which books to keep?
• What do you see yourself doing with your personal library of romance fiction books in the future?

Informed Consent:
The University of Missouri requires that research involving human subjects include an informed consent to ensure that participants’ rights are protected. As is customary, pseudonyms will be substituted in all data for all names of persons, public libraries/public library systems, cities, towns and counties. Every effort will be made to adequately disguise the participants’ identities and specific geographic location in any published materials or presentations. The print-outs of any responses will remain in the direct physical possession of the researchers. Relevant portions of the transcripts will be deleted upon request of any participant who decides to withdraw from the study.

Participants have the right to withdraw from the study at any time, no questions asked.

Refusal to participate, or withdrawal from the research project, will have no impact on the participant.

Do not hesitate to call, write or e-mail a member of the research team if you have questions or concerns about this research study.

We ask that you give permission for the results of this research to be used in professional presentations at national conferences and printed in professional publications. If you have questions your rights as a research subject, you may contact the University of Missouri Institutional Review Board Office at (573)882-9585 .

Denice Adkins
Linda Esser
Diane Velasquez
303 Townsend Hall
School of Information Science & Learning Technologies
University of Missouri-Columbia
Columbia, MO 65211

CindyS said...

I'm worried I'll pick this book up and start looking for two distinct voices. I almost wish they had created a pen name. I guess I would still know because I'm on the net but still.

Charging for library books is wrong but then I don't use our local library. Bad Cindy. Maybe ours charge now also.


Darla D said...

Wow, I am shocked that you'd have to pay to pick up holds! I would be upset if that happened at the library where I work. I like to think of our library system as one huge library - if patrons are charged to get books from one branch to another, that completely defeats the purpose. If anyone gets charged, it should be the people who don't bother to go in and pick up their holds after someone has hunted them down on the shelves and taken the trouble to send them to their branch! But even then, I'd hate to see it happen.

Thanks for the review - I'd like to try this series.