- Title: Lust, Money, and Murder
- Author: Mike Wells
- Series: Book 1, Lust
- Genre: Thriller/Crime
- Format: Kindle
- Source: Author
- Reviewed by: Mark Matthews
- Rating: 2.9 out of 5
Description: This book begins with a young and naive Elaine Brogan as she initially pursues her dream of a career as a photomodel. After becoming entangled with a sleazy modeling agency, she decides to become a Secret Service agent, struggling through the arduous training academy. After her first disastrous assignment, she is transferred to Bulgaria. There, she meets Nick LaGrange, the love of her life.
Review: First off, the title and the cover art alone would have put me off from reading this book. The cheese factor was too high. But I picked it up after reading some positive reviews, and one which specially said they had my same concern but read the book and enjoyed it.
The story goes of a young woman who has an incredibly dedicated father who makes some shady moves and breaks some laws to fund her private schooling. The young woman then dreams of becoming a model, (isn’t that why we all go to private school?) but when she falls victim to a scam, and then tragedy strikes the family, she trains to be a CIA agent and exact revenge.
The story is engaging enough and moves fairly quickly and pulls you along. Based on perhaps the most simplistic, straight forward, ‘remove the flowers and cut off any bit of fat‘ narrative you may ever read, my eyes breezed through each page. There are many books I can read while watching a baseball game. This was certainly one of them.
I found something a bit paradoxical about a strong, young adult heroine who’s dream it is to become a model. It didn’t fit. This is certainly no Lisbeth Salander. Yes, freedom and strength means being who you want to be, but this made her seem too superficial to root for as much as I had hoped.
Of course, it is after tragedy hits her family, and she decides to join the CIA that some real strength comes out. There are some awkward romance moments, both awkward for the main character, and awkward for the reader. (Educate me as the SSV token male here: Do women really look for the ‘bulge’ in mens’ pants as she does in the story? Maybe that’s your little secret. If so, feel free to remain silent.)
The book, by the way, does not end. There is no climax. This is not a novel, this is a part of a book. Sure, you know going in that it’s a series, but even in a series the book should stand on its own. In this story, you hear about something that ‘may go down’, and then the book ends. And in what feels like 3 spaces after the last period, there’s a link to buy his next book. (Most self-respecting authors wait at least 4 spaces for such a link.)
I felt like the main character did when the modeling company scammed her and ran off with her money. If I join the CIA, I will track down the author and ask him if this was his initial intention. Does he have ‘trilogy fever?’ A terrible diagnosis that has been a plague ever since Tolkien wrote a trilogy and now everyone feels they have to follow suit. The print length of ‘book 1’, by the way, is just 106 pages, which is more suitable to the first 1/3 of a book rather than the first book in a trilogy.
With all of that said, I am actually curious about what happens next. The story made me care enough to want to know, which is what a good story is supposed to do. And that is what I would call this novel; good, concrete storytelling and a light read that many will enjoy.