Review: Off the Grid by Mike Wells

Book 7 of Lust, Money & Murder

 

Title: Off the Grid

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2016

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Warning: Lust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book because this article contains spoilers from it

In the beginning of the seventh book, Elaine Brogan and Nick LaGrange drive to the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where they are arrested on the spot for letting Cattoretti go. Ouch! It looks like Raj Malik found out somehow what the two secret agents did and he decided that it would be better to put them in prison and interrogate them whenever he likes. There, we enter the abominable hell Elaine lives in; terrifying thoughts cross her mind that she will not see Nick or her children again, she endures the humiliation of staying in a windowless, stinky cell and she undergoes various methods of torture (such as loud metal music, sleep deprivation, starvation) which gradually affect her mind and senses. Unlike his wife, Nick copes a little better with this subhuman treatment, because he worked as a professional extractor if you still remember from book 6. But how can he escape without his equipment? Did Elaine and Nick reach a dead end? Will anyone help them get out of this obscure place? Read the book and you will find out.

A secondary plotline stretches in front of our eyes and we read about Luna Faye’s story: her mixed-race origins, the traumas caused by the kids at school who bullied her and made fun of her size and looks, the reasons why she became interested in Martial Arts and in a career as an FBI agent. For me, it is fascinating how mature Luna was in her teen years and what a strong sense of justice she had at that time in her life. Becoming an FBI agent, she is sent to investigate the case of a famous serial killer that inspired her to enter the field of forensics. In this part of the book, you will also understand why Luna is so afraid of flying and how she managed to stop the serial killer and his accomplice from getting away.

Elaine and Nick’s imprisonment and some events that take place in the second part of the book were a bit scary, thought-provoking, but they made me read on. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about Luna’ story. It was a little too long for my taste, as well as Dimitry’s mission to follow Raj everywhere he goes. I am a devoted fan of this series, but I had some mixed feelings while reading Off the Grid and I’m not so sure if I still want to continue reading it. The premise of the eighth book is pretty tempting, but what if the digressions or secondary plots bore me like it happened in this case?

I guess I’ll have enough time to answer this question until the next book comes out. I’m not a big fan of book series and I’m pretty surprised that I came so far with Lust, Money & Murder, which means a lot, but for my curiosity to be fully satisfied, the eighth book needs to be more dynamic (especially the first half of it) and maybe as engaging as On Russian Soil, for example. However, this is my personal and honest opinion and suggestion. I’m not scolding Mr Wells, but if nowadays we have the privilege to connect with the authors of our favourite books, why we shouldn’t analyse their works critically, for the benefits of both writers and readers? I hope that my thoughts about this book will not spoil your excitement about it, but a reviewer’s purpose is to notice both the highs and lows of a book. Until next time!

Review: The Extraction by Mike Wells

Book 6 of Lust, Money & Murder

 

Title: The Extraction

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2015

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 4/5 stars

WarningLust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book because this article contains spoilers from it!

I just can’t believe how addicted I am to this series. The cliff-hanger from the previous book was so well done and so intriguing that I couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen to Elaine Brogan and how she would overcome a certain life-threatening situation.

In the beginning of the sixth book, Raj Malik receives Elaine’s message and then the “head of the U.S. Secret Service operations in Europe” (Loc. 27) calls Leon Gilmour, a professional extractor, who rescues American assets from neutral or hostile countries. He must extract a young American agent who is suffering from hypothermia and wolf bites. It also seems that she is held hostage by an insurgent and Leon must deal with him too. Afterwards, he must destroy any evidence of struggle or gunshots before the police find them.

Some important events and secrets from Leon’s past are uncovered, though the hint given by the narrator in one of the first chapters will definitely make the readers of the previous books recognise him immediately. However, I will not reveal the name of the character. I can only add that life can sometimes be very ironic.

In this book, we can see how twisted Cattoretti’s mind is (more than ever if you ask me), what plans he has got regarding Elaine, her family and her saviour. How evil can a criminal mastermind get? However, after returning home, Elaine hatches a plan to find Cattoretti’s hideout, because he has kidnapped Tony, but also to find out where Lexy and Cattoretti’s son was taken without the mother’s consent.

The book is full of amazing elements: split missions through which the agents find more information about Cattorretti and his accomplices, epic fights in unexpected places, adrenaline, suspense, but also a bit of humour every now and then. However, the story is not over yet because we have to explore the seventh book.

 

Review: On Russian Soil by Mike Wells

Book 5 of Lust, Money & Murder

The Undercover Hunt For An International Criminal

 

Title: On Russian Soil

Subtitle: The Undercover Hunt For An International Criminal

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2014

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 5/5 stars

WarningLust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book because this article contains spoilers from it!

After mastermind Georgio Cattoretti succeeds in stealing the entire collection of Picasso paintings from Hermitage Museum, the Russian Government surprisingly asks the United States “to send someone from the FBI Art Crime Team over to help them on the case” (Loc. 4974, Book 4). And who is the most suitable person to go on an undercover mission to St. Petersburg, to catch the international criminal? Elaine Brogan, of course.

However, her biggest challenges are: she has to pose as an FBI Art Crime detective, then she must catch Cattoretti before the Russian police does and she also needs to figure out a plan “to lure him out of Russia (…) or trick him in crossing the border into Latvia or Lithuania or Estonia” (Loc. 43) from where he can be extradited to the U.S. authorities and judged for his crimes. Elaine is not thrilled about her mission because of her lack of knowledge in art crime and also for the way Cattoretti treated her in the past, including his attempt to kill her. But in the end, she is left with no other choice but to obey the orders of her superior. How will she accomplish her complex assignment with all the risks it implies? And another important aspect is this: how will she complete her undercover mission without raising suspicions from Russian art crime expert, Inspector Sergei Amperov and his team?

I won’t actually give you too many details because this book is very well-built and the interesting journey is more enjoyable when you don’t know what to expect from this part of the series. The narration resembles a mystery book, though the reader knows from the start who committed the art heist. The deductions regarding the heist, the criminal’s intentions, the identity of the accomplices who helped him and the plan to catch the Italian mastermind and to bring back the priceless paintings safe and sound are the main parts of the story. I think that this particular book resembles a modern Sherlock investigation with high-tech surveillance gadgets, while the action is placed on Russian soil mixed with local culture and mentality. I also love the way the author describes the gloomy winter weather and the majestic historic buildings of St. Petersburg, not to mention the lavish Hermitages Museum itself.

 

This is all I have to say about On Russian Soil. Until next time!

Review: Cattoretti’s Return by Mike Wells

Book 4: of Lust, Money & Murder

An Unstoppable Villain’s Thirst for Revenge

 

Title: Cattoretti’s Return

Subtitle: An Unstoppable Villain’s Thirst for Revenge

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2014

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 4/5 stars

 WarningLust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book because this article contains spoilers from it!

At the end of the third book, it seemed that Georgio Cattoretti met his match and Karma gave him what he deserved. However, in the fourth book, we find out that he is a little disabled, due to the fight he had with Elaine Brogan, but he is overall alive and kicking. Though barely surviving the fall, the waves and his injuries, Cattoretti is determined to hide from the local police, Interpol and the U.S. Secret Service that were looking for him. The memories and traumas caused by the time he was imprisoned in the U.S. made him vow to himself that he would rather commit suicide than spend another day behind bars. With the way the narration about Cattoretti’s survival and the pitiful condition is told, it almost makes you sorry for him and his ingenuity reminds me of Robinson Crusoe.

But “the cat always lands on his feet” (Loc. 6074), as Cattoretti always said to himself. He manages to flee from Italy without being caught by the police and settles in Cyprus, where he lives peacefully for a while under a false identity. However, he is afraid that the Russian Mafia — let’s say… an old acquaintance who laundered his counterfeit money — was probably following him. The head of the organisation could spill the beans and Cattoretti’s contract killings would surface. Because he doesn’t want to be caught and he hopes to seek protection, the Italian criminal goes to Moscow to talk to Yuri Zubov. However, things are not that smooth and his life may be at stake…

As you already noticed, the main events in this book revolve around Georgio Cattoretti, his survival story, his plans to find a hideout and to make a comeback in the criminal world. However, the narration also shows the Italian criminal’s cynical relationship with his young submissive housekeeper and accomplice, Lexy. They travel to a few European countries and to Russia, where they have some interesting adventures, such as those from Amsterdam.

Personally, I truly enjoyed the information provided by the author about art and about the places visited by the characters. This all makes one feel the pulse of that certain city. The Italian criminal loves art, but inspiration strikes him in a bad way. He plans to make an immense art heist by stealing Pablo Picasso’s paintings from Hermitage Museum, but let’s not forget that he also wants to take revenge on Elaine Brogan. How will Georgio Cattoretti overcome all the obstacles? Will he achieve his goals? Read and you will find out! Until next time, don’t hesitate to pick a good book!

 

Review: Murder by Mike Wells

Book 3 of Lust, Money & Murder

 A Female Secret Agent Takes on An International Criminal

 

Title: Murder

Subtitle: A Female Secret Agent Takes on an International Criminal

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2014

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 4/5 stars

WarningLust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book because this article contains spoilers from it!

After Elaine Brogan was abducted by Georgio Cattoretti’s men, she has been taken to Milan, where the Italian criminal made his wealth by counterfeiting US dollars through a stolen KBA Giori intaglio printing press, but also through manufacturing knockoff designer clothes, shoes and jewellery. Tempted by the wealth, Cattoretti’s charm and the sweet taste of revenge, Elaine accepts to help Cattoretti in perfecting the fake dollar bills. Did she have anything to lose? Lassiter used her for his dirty business with the Russian Mafia and Nick was probably arrested for something he was or wasn’t guilty of.

 But now let’s see what happens in the third book of this series. After returning with Elaine from the opera, Cattoretti has the surprise of his life because Gene Lassiter paid him an unexpected visit and stole the money Cattoretti planned to give Elaine after she finished the job he gave her. However, Lassiter hastily left something in the Italian criminal’s house — it’s an important item that will be used against the old man.

In this book, we learn many things about Georgio Cattoretti, such as what and who influenced him to become a criminal, but we can also catch a glimpse of how he thinks, whom he trusts, what happens to those who betray him and how he achieves his goals. He is a true villain who has plenty of reasons to behave the way he does.

This book contains thrilling scenes such as revengeful and cold-blooded murders, suspense, a bit of lust, a surprising LGBT twist and other types of twists that make you question the initial scenario that you pictured in your mind. Therefore, I suggest you read this wonderful series if you like spy novels, fast-paced narration and twists that will blow your mind. Enjoy!