Ah, another fun read. This is just book candy. Or ear candy since I am listening to these and Scott Brick the narrator is fabulous.
In this one, the Chinese government wants back an artifact that has been on loan to the Smithsonian, so they are sending a high ranking official to collect it. Problem is, the one in the Smithsonian is a fake because the real one was stolen and nobody knows who has it. So Kate and Nick's impossible task -- in order -- 1) find the real Bird (I picture it to look like The Maltese Falcon) and 2) swap it with the fake before the Chinese government arrives to pick it up. Luckily Nick has connections. Unluckily the timeline changes dramatically the and the Chinese collect the bird before the swap is made.
But that is the least of Nick and Kate's problems, the bigger issue is who they have to cross in order to get the bird. The main villain of the story is a guy who in my imagination is a cross between Dick Cheney and Donald Trump. So in other words, a real piece of work. He is a super powerful, super rich ex-secretary of state who now runs a private security/military company called Black Water er, um, Black Rhino. He's smart and very quickly figures out what Kate and Nick did. He is quick to retaliate because he's evil and petulant.
This book is just as fun and breezy as the last book with Nick and Kate as really great anchors. I really enjoy the characterization of these two: Kate the no-nonsense ex-military FBI agent who has the appetite of a 14 year old boy. I love the descriptions of her favorite meals, In-and-Out burgers, tacos, pretzel and french fry sandwiches. And the fact that no matter where they travel -- be it to China, Indonesia, or Nashville - poor Kate will always end up in coach in a middle seat.
Meanwhile Nick is always thinking and scheming. He has more contacts than a phone book and his tastes are much more Dom Perignon and Caviar than Kate's. And no matter where they travel, Nick manages to fly first class, in seats equipped with a shiatsu massager and a five star meal. I also like that even though he is now working for the FBI to bring down criminals, Nick manages to still make money as a side venture by bilking them for his own gain in the course of the con as well. He's still a thief after all.
Since Nick is working on the FBI's time, he refuses to use any of his criminal friends when they need to hire a crew. So he somehow manages to find civilians with an emotional stake in whatever con they are pulling. He recruits a new member for this one but he calls in a couple of old friends as well.
One of my favorites is Boyd the actor who is the bane of every director he has ever worked with. Boyd is a method actor and really needs to understand his part no matter how small or trivial. His scene as a pancake in a commercial had me in stitches. And I felt very sorry for his director in the toothpaste commercial because Boyd really needed to feel the despair in order to understand how changing toothpaste could change his life. Kate is always nervous with Boyd because she thinks he'll give them away. But Nick finds him a delight and has complete trust he'll pull off whatever they give him to do. And Nick is usually right because like Nick, Boyd completely commits!
Kate's dad makes a very welcome return as part of their crew and he's never met a weapon he didn't like to deploy. There is also Willie, the curvy blonde who can fly, drive or navigate any vehicle with an engine.
Still no real movement in the romance department, although Nick and Kate do get their flirt on quite a bit.