Rating: 4.25 stars
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Anthony Dare is perhaps the greatest counter-intelligence agent alive. Part of that is down to his cool as ice ability to rationalize his way out of every impossible situation. He foils every one of his arch nemesis Cicero’s dastardly (and often wildly insane) plans and puts the man behind bars. Cicero always manages to escape and the chase starts all over again. But while Anthony walks away with accolades and the adoration of his peers, his highly trained and capable partners have a tendency to end up dead. So when his supervisor decides to saddle him with a new partner whose only experience is as a desk-bound analyst, Anthony is horrified. It just seems like someone else who will get killed on Anthony’s watch.
Elliot Bichler doesn’t think much of Anthony. Yes, the man is handsome and impossibly amazing in the field, but he never reads Elliot’s reports or pays attention to the work done by the analysts. Elliot isn’t a field agent and he has no desire to end up dead, so getting paired with Anthony isn’t exactly the gold star for career advancement. Now, both men must work together to stop Cicero once and for all and find an agency mole. Doing so might change their lives forever or get them both killed.
Secret Agent Analyst is basically a cross between James Bond and Get Smart. An absurd evil villain provides the comedy, while a light romance unfolds between Anthony and Elliot. There isn’t always a lot of depth on display, but in the end, I enjoyed the interplay between the main characters and the well-paced narrative.
The romance between Elliot and Anthony is relatively weak and moves far too fast. I wish it had been more fleshed out and given a bit of room to breathe, but they work well as partners and friends and I enjoyed their banter. Anthony’s exploits are ridiculous and that’s the point, especially as poor Elliot is dragged from one dangerous situation to another. Yet Elliot is far from helpless and I appreciated that he ended up holding his own against Anthony and the cadre of evil-doers they confronted. Truthfully, the attempted explanations of Cicero’s supposedly genius plans are some of the book’s funniest moments. From genetically modifying sheep to have thumbs, to using drones to disrupt social media, Cicero’s plans are as absurd as they are overly complex and their descriptions kept the overall flow of the book from becoming stale or too serious.
Both Anthony and Elliot are excellent at their jobs, but Anthony’s rakish charm doesn’t always read as smooth and sometimes comes off as forced, as if the author wanted him to be Bond but couldn’t quite commit to it. As a result, Elliot is the stronger of the two characters, but the men work better together than they do as individual characters. The plot is fine; it isn’t overly complex or memorable, but instead serviceable and solid, which worked well because it allowed the characters to have more time to shine.
All in all, Secret Agent Analysis was an enjoyable read. It leaned on its comedic premise, but not so heavily as to read as jokey or obnoxious. The characters were generally strong and, while the romance isn’t overly developed, Elliot and Anthony still made good partners and I enjoyed their adventures. I don’t know if the author has more planned for this couple, but future installments would certainly be worth reading.
Thanks for your review, Sue. This does sound like a fun read. (And I haven’t thought of Get Smart in ages!)