Agnes and the Hitman ~ Jennifer Crusie, Bob Mayer

  • Title: Agnes and the Hitman
  • Author: Jennifer Crusie, Bob Mayer
  • Genre: Romance, Humor
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Own
  • Reviewed by: Olga
  • Rating: 5 out of 5

Description:  Take one food writer named Cranky Agnes, add a hitman named Shane, mix them together with a Southern mob wedding, a missing necklace, two annoyed flamingos, and a dog named Rhett and you’ve got a recipe for a sexy, hilarious novel about the disastrous side of true love…

Agnes Crandall’s life goes awry when a dognapper invades her kitchen one night, seriously hampering her attempts to put on a wedding that she’s staked her entire net worth on.  Then a hero climbs through her bedroom window.  His name is Shane, no last name, just Shane, and he has his own problems:  he’s got a big hit scheduled, a rival trying to take him out, and an ex-mobster uncle asking him to protect some little kid named Agnes.  When he finds out that Agnes isn’t so little, his uncle has forgotten to mention a missing five million bucks he might have lost in Agnes’s house, and his last hit was a miss, Shane’s life isn’t looking so good, either.  Then a bunch of lowlifes come looking for the money, a string of hit men show up for Agnes, and some wedding guests gather with intent to throw more than rice.  Agnes and Shane have their hands full with greed, florists, treachery, flamingos, mayhem, mothers of the bride, and–most dangerous of all–each other.  Agnes and the Hitman is the perfect combination of sugar and spice, sweet and salty–a novel of delicious proportions.

Review:  This is the second book by Crusie and Mayer, and it’s better than their first. In fact, this is one of my favorite books; it’s witty and wise and imbued with absurdities. Like in their previous collaboration, Crusie wrote the female POV, and Mayer wrote the male POV. When their lines intertwine in the plot, sparks fly and mirth explodes, satisfying the reader’s craving for laughter.

The female protagonist Agnes is a sassy, lonesome newspaper columnist with the anger problem. Every time her anger gets the better of her, she whacks the object of her ire by a frying pan. “Why a frying pan?” asked her psychiatrist once, and she answered: “Because that’s what I usually have in my hand.” For Agnes is a food writer and she loves to cook.
This time, when a stranger breaks into her house to steal her dog, she again has a non-stick frying pan in her hand. The ensuing scene, the opening episode of the novel, is one of the most amusing, laugh-out-loud scenes I’ve ever read.

Unlike peaceful but cranky Agnes, the male protagonist Shane is a US government-sanctioned assassin, the hitman from the title. At his uncle’s request, Shane arrives at Agnes’s house to take care of the family business: protecting Agnes. But when he asks his uncle – a former mobster – what he had to protect Agnes from, the uncle becomes slippery. The resulting brew of 25-year-old mob secrets, shady government politics, a wedding in jeopardy, a cookbook in the making, and a couple of desolate flamingos keep the reader glued to the book until the last page.

With so many disparate ingredients, livened up by two superior writers, the novel can’t help but to be a flavorful stew. The romantic overtones and the sexual delights swirling between Shane and Agnes add the air of sophistication not many romantic novels possess.

While Shane deals with murders and mobsters that spring like mushrooms across the swampy landscape of the tale, Agnes cooks and feeds her guests. The more people she has to cook for the happier she is. She also has to throw a wedding, protect her house from a sabotaging widow, break up with her two-faced fiancé, dodge the lineup of thugs who are trying to kill her, and write her next column by the fast-approaching deadline.

And then there is Shane, who (oh, horror!) kills people for a living. But no matter how often she makes a resolution not to sleep with him … again … she can’t resist her heart. After all, he kills to protect her. And he buys her an air conditioner. And he installs black shutters on her dream house. And he enjoys her food. And he keeps her loneliness at bay. A perfect man by any standards.

As for Shane, an outwardly emotionless fighting machine, Agnes brings color and flavor, warmth and softness into the cold milieu of his personal and professional life. Her “pattable” body and her sweet and spicy passions force him to reevaluate a score of his past decisions and come to some rather unexpected new ones.

A book for everyone.

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