Zachariah Justis is a private investigator who has been asked by the owner of StarrTech, Inc. to look into some missing shipments. Needing an spy in StarrTech, Zac approaches Guinevere Jones and blackmails her into helping him. Gwen, who runs her own temp agency, had worked as a temp at StarrTech six months earlier, and helped herself to $2,000 in benefits before leaving. Zac uses this information to assure she will be his "inside man".
This was an interesting beginning to Castle's Guinevere Jones series. The story was written in 1986, so the mystery seems dated. Zac and Gwen play a video game called "Elf Hunt" to find clues to the missing shipments, and the missing creator of the video game. (When they are playing the game, I can just picture the first Super Mario Brothers game.)
I really liked the characters in this book. Zac is not your usual alpha jerk that is in so many of the 1980's romances. Gwen holds her own as an independent woman. The romance in this book is light, but I'm hoping it will heat up in the next book in the series. My rating: 4 Stars.
This review was written by Maria Ottati Alonso and appears on Amazon.com, but it's a great review and this series needed some more information.
"'If you like Moonlighting... If Remington Steele turns you on...' That's part of the presentation of this series, and it does have a bit of that feel to it. A really fun book, vintage JAK.
Guinevere Jones, owner of small temp agency Camelot Services is not amused when she's approached by fellow small-businessowner Zacariah Justis. Zac has just opened his security consulting agency, and he's investigating some disappearing shipments for computer company StarrTech. Gwen had done a bit of temping there herself a few months earlier, and Zac blackmails her into going back and being her inside "man", using the knowledge that while working at StarrTech, she'd done some massaging of the companies benefits program and taken it for some $2,000.
As Zac and Guinevere work together to find out what's going on (or rather, Zac works both at finding out and at trying to keep Gwen from doing some investigating of her own into the fate of one of the programmers, who seems to have disappeared), they realize they may have more in common that they thought at first.
Oh, this was great! I was a bit leery when I started it because I've been burnt by some old JAKs, but Zac is fortunately not one of the old horrible alphas she sometimes wrote in the 80s. He's an alpha, yes, but he's an ok guy. I think he actually reminded me of of the hero from Smoke in Mirrors, Thomas, a guy who knows he's not very exciting or sophisticated, with a solemn, serious manner and a sense of humour that takes a bit of getting used to.
And Guinevere is cool, too. I liked how she's this sensible, proactive small businesswoman, who's more than a match for Zac. I was, however, a bit bothered by her gothic heroine tendencies. Like the gothic heroines of old, she's fond of getting herself into dangerous situations for no reason, even when Zac, who really is the expert in the investigative area, has told her to stay put. And her explorations tend to backfire and not help, but hinder the investigation. Still, she didn't irritate me enough to be a real bother.
The romance was great, but you really should start reading this knowing that what you'll get here is just the beginning of a relationship. If I had no way of getting the other books, it would have pissed me off, but since I've got all of them and I *know* that the romance will continue there, it didn't bother me at all. Anyway, it's quite a nice beginning. JAK gets the chemistry right, and I liked how being with Gwen assuages Zac's loneliness and sense of being disconnected from the world.
I also very much enjoyed the humour. There are plenty of running jokes throughout the book, like about different management styles, and about Guinevere constantly cadging free lunches from Zac, and Zac being a "frog", and that kind of thing, and I thought JAK had the perfect touch with it. None of the jokes got old, and they remained funny until the end.
I was really intrigued by the glimpse into the world of computer games in the 80s. This is important: you have to know when you start reading this that it was written in 1986, so it's best to approach it as a kind of period piece, and not expect it to be completely contemporary. I had lots of fun with this. I'm sure for the people who read it at the time this would have felt impossibly cutting edge and modern, but well, what I imagined when I pictured the Elf Hunt game were the graphics from the games I was playing... well, not at the time, because 20 years ago my country, Uruguay, was at least 10 years behind the US in that area, so in 1986 all I was doing with my Spectrum computer was playing with Logo and loading a really basic Scrabble game through my cassette player, but maybe 10 years later? Stuff like Laura Bow or the early King's Quests? And that would be more quaint than cutting edge right now, of course!
Anyway, that was a fun element, as was the the whole role of the game, Elf Hunt, in the suspense subplot. Not particularly believable, but fun. "