Flatiron Books | 2021
Filed Under: Charlie’s not a very social person
I’m not really sure if I love this series, because there are aspects to it that are not my thing. But they might be yours! That is the joy of a review that involves negative points. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as the saying goes. So while I might be like meh, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.
With that in mind – the first novel in the Nikki Griffin series started well for me, but ended up becoming a bit ridiculous near the end. My suspension of disbelief was hanging on by a thread. With this second installment, I’ve figured out that’s just the way this series is going to be – kind of ridiculous and hard to believe. Are you into that? Then you’ll like this.
One Got Away has a Charlie’s Angels kind of vibe to it. Not so much the original show, but the Drew Barrymore version where there’s a lot of action, but it’s also silly.
I’m not sure if this series is totally pulling off that very specific kind of action style, but I also didn’t hate reading it so there’s that.
Nikki Griffin is a badass P.I. who owns a popular book store. Her brother is a recovering drug addict making good on turning his life around. And her boyfriend – though not really attractive to me as a character (seriously he’s so fucking vanilla) – is a calming anchor after her wild adventures.
As set up in the first book, Nikki’s whole schtick in her P.I. career is levelling out the playing field, taking jobs where she’s helping the underdog – but in this novel, she’s kind of abandoned those principles.
She’s hired by the oldest son in a very wealthy family to find out if his mother is being taken advantage of by a con man. Sounds simple enough but it quickly escalates into demented family secrets, blackmail, sex trafficking and criminal underworld shenanigans.
I love the Drew Barrymore Charlie’s Angels movies, so you would think if I’m saying this has a similar vibe, I’d love these books as well, but no. Those movies knew what they were. They weren’t trying to be dark and serious while also dressing up an Angel as LL Cool J who parachutes off a commercial plane while holding a suicide bomber.
This series is trying to blend being a very serious and dark P.I. thriller with plotlines and scenes that are near comical and over-the-top. The line between the two styles feels stark, the transition is not seamless and so I find the writing to be a bit clunky. You can feel like you’re reading two different versions of the same book at times.
I like Nikki well enough, but I would love to see her work on a more personal case so the reader can experience her personality in an intimate plot setting, instead of these wild cases with powerful people that get out of hand and really only showcase Nikki’s “badass” side.
Maybe a more personal case would also allow the characters around her to not be such stereotypical clichés. I mean, really – the bad guys in this novel seemed to be plucked right out of a James Bond movie from the 60s. Like someone might as well have been throwing his shoe as a boomerang weapon.
Really, everyone is a pretty shallow, surface version of a character. Nikki is written less like a woman of depth and more like a cishet man’s wet dream action star. Super hot, book smart, street smart, rides a motorcycle and wears tight clothes and always has the perfect one-liner for any situation. Sure, she’s cool, but there doesn’t seem to be much else to her which is a bummer.
The case was interesting enough and everything was wrapped up with a nice bow in the end, but the writing was lacking something. Too much emphasis was put on the appearance of what the narrative was trying to be – cool and badass and exciting – and the emotional depth was sacrificed in exchange. Like why was that loner kid involved at all? Because now the Indiana Jones vibes need to be thrown in or to make it seem like Nikki has a heart? Whatever. I didn’t get it, but I’m not a big fan of reading adult crime fiction with kids tagging along to solve a case in general. That’s just a personal preference that I wanted to complain about.
So, I don’t know. I didn’t hate it. But I didn’t love it either. I’ll probably read the third book just to be certain of the direction the series is going, but if it’s more of the same without any character growth, I might peace out.
PI Nikki Griffin – a badass bookseller who punishes abusers – is back in S. A. Lelchuk’s One Got Away…
Nikki Griffin, a private-investigator when she isn’t running her small bookstore, is on a case. The matriarch of one of the wealthiest San Francisco families has been defrauded by a con-man, and her furious son enlists Nikki to find the money. And find the con-man.
Nikki isn’t a fan of men who hurt women. Her secret mission, born of revenge and trauma, is to do everything she can to remove women from dangerous situations—and to punish the men responsible.
As Nikki follows the trail toward the con-man, she realizes that no one involved is telling her the whole truth. When the case overlaps with her attempt to protect a woman in trouble, and Nikki’s own life is put in danger, Nikki has to make terrible choices about who to save—and how to keep herself alive.