August Books 23) The Great California Game, by Jonathan Gash

Completely by chance, the next in the random selection of Lovejoy books I have picked up recently takes place immediately after Jade Woman, which I read earlier this month. Lovejoy has escaped Hong Kong and arrives penniless in New York, where he soon gets sucked into a group of sinister plutocrats involved with raising questionable money as their stake in the Great California Game. The first half of the book, in which Lovejoy tries to grasp the reality of New York and also gets entangled in the conspiracy, is very well portrayed – both the richness of the setting and our hero’s confusion in adapting to it. The second half was less good; en route to California Lovejoy and his rapidly acquired assistants encounter various American regional stereotypes, while Lovejoy demonstrates a hitherto-unseen talent for actually making money from his (possibly supernatural) gift for telling real antiques from fakes, and there is then a rather hard-to-swallow twist at the end. And surprisingly it is almost halfway through the book before Lovejoy gets together with any of the various women who as usual throw themselves at him. So, a book of two halves really. (And I am beginning to wonder how many of the Lovejoy books are actually set in East Anglia, or even England? So far I’ve had France, the Isle of Man, Hong Kong and now the US.)