Anastasia Devlin is a Virtual Assistant – spending most of her time in front of the computer, doing research for other people. And she likes it that way since it means enough distance from her crazy family. But then one day her 9-year-old sister EG stands in front of her door and her brother Nick shortly follows. They find out about their grandfather Maximillian’s death – but when they want to claim his house and their inheritance, they find that it has already been sold to the mysterious Graham who never shows his face. Despite that, they move into the house, in an uneasy truce with Graham and Ana starts investigating – Max’ death, Graham and a larger conspiracy somehow involving textbooks.
Evil Genius would have been rather enjoyable – if I had been able to suspend my disbelief a bit more. But neither the characters nor the plot made me believe anything that was happening. And ultimately that ruined the book for me.
I did enjoy Patricia Rice’s writing style – she gives Ana a distinct voice and there were a lot of nice moments like the following:
Asking questions of Magda was akin to banging my head against a brick wall because it felt so good when I stopped.
I was milkshake to his straw. He was sucking me in, and I couldn’t resist.
I smiled at Tex’s flunky. He tugged his tie knot and nodded.
Then I stepped into the coat closet and closed the door.
But at the same time, she could have profited a lot from more editing and character building. Ana herself was the only character who got more than one dimension and/or 1-2 words to describe them, but even so her depth was only told, not shown. And for a character who says of herself that the way she dresses doesn’t interest her at all, she spends an awful lot of time talking about the way she was dressed.
And her obsession with Graham came completely out of nowhere for me. And for somebody who is supposedly pretty analytical, she jumps to conclusions about him willy-nilly (why would she assume that he was paralysed? And even if she made that assumption, why would she immediately accept it as fact?). That really didn’t work for me.
I also didn’t like the ending, which was one huge set-up for a sequel, and not much more. But most of that would have been okay, if I hadn’t had the urge to shout at the plot/characters almost all the time. I just didn’t believe anything they did or said.
Summarising: maybe somebody else will be able to suspend their disbelief more. But I can’t really recommend this one.