Friday, October 1, 2021

To Catch a Bad Guy (Janet Maple #1), by Marie Astor

Marie Astor, August 2012

Janet Maple, graduate of Columbia Law School, four years in the DA's office, with a prized job in the investigations office, along with a handsome boyfriend, Alex, working alongside her, thought she was on her way to the promotion and the career she wanted, bagging Wall Street bad guys.

Then Alex gets the promotion, she gets laid off, and she's struggling to support herself and her dog, Baxter, and find a new job without using her ex-boyfriend as a reference. When her oldest and once closest friend, Lisa Foley, calls her with an off of a job as Assistant General Counsel at Bostoff Securities, she accepts. She's working on Wall Street instead of hunting Wall Street bad guys, but she can play a role in keeping Bostoff Securities on the right side of the law, right?

It's not long before she realizes there's something wrong at Bostoff. Their five biggest customers are hedge funds with dubious reputations, and their documentation seems to be incomplete--ownership data, for instance, is missing. Yet her ability to investigate is limited, because most of the legal work is done by outside counsel Tom Wyman. Even her friend and boss, Lisa, the General Counsel, has very little real work. Why was Janet even hired?

Dennis Walker, undercover Treasury investigative agent, is working at Bostoff as an IT specialist, under the name Dean Snider, because Treasury has questions about Bostoff, too. The normally suave and perfectly groomed Walker is posing as a dorky IT guy. It grates on him, but the job is his main concern--his only concern, until he meets Janet Maple.

What follows is a complicated interaction, where Janet, once burned, likes "Dean" but is set on avoiding romance at work, and Dennis likes Janet, but can't get involved brecause of his job--except that he also soon realizes that Janet might be the inside source he needs.

They move together and apart, repeatedly, and meanwhile we get to know the Bostoff brothers, Jonathan and Paul, sons of the largely retired founder, Hank Bostoff, and more complicated than one might expect from their assigned roles in this story.

It's a fun story, and I like the characters and the plot, yet it never completely gelled for me. Also, the cute dog on the cover, Janet's dog Baxter, does arrive at the end of the book unscathed, but also barely plays a role in the story at all, which did disappoint me. Honestly, I was in need of a dog in a story, and clearly didn't do enough initial scouting of the story.

It is enjoyable, though, even if not very deep or entirely solid.

I bought this book.

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