(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer SEP 7, 2003)
Jonas Lamb is not your typical hero. A skirt chaser extraordinaire, he's been married six times, and although he cared for each of his wives, it was only the second, Tess, who was his true love. That marriage ended rather abruptly when Tess, heavily pregnant, opened the door to find a woman who claimed to be his real wife....apparently the woman hadn't bothered filing for divorce and Jonas hadn't realized it. Tess left, and ever after his relations with her...and his son, Patrick, were rather strained.
That was yesterday. Today, Patrick has come back into his life with an irresistible proposition. A genetic engineer, he has discovered how to use plants to make cheap, clean energy that will put the oil companies right out of business and make those wise enough to invest in it incredibly rich. He is hoping his father, due to come into an inheritance when his rich, but ailing current wife, dies, will be able to help him finance the company. Jonas agrees, if for no other reason than to spend time with his son. He borrows against his million dollar inheritance, and so he doesn't feel too bad, puts a majority of the company stock under his wife's name. Unfortunately, their secret is soon discovered, and everyone, the Chinese, Arabs, the Feds...even a group of campus fanatics opposed to messing with Mother Nature are plotting and planning against Lamb and his son. In some ways, anything that can happen, does...but it's all right, because Jonas Lamb can sail through any situation with grace and aplomb.
This book is a very different type of story...not your usual adventure at all. One of the aspects that make it so unusual is Jonas himself. Like I said, he's a world class slut, which would usually make him a jerk...but he's so nice, so affable, that you can't help but forgive him. After all, he does love the women he marries...he just loves a lot of women. He even stayed faithful to his latest wife (in part thanks to a fidelity clause) until she released him from this on the promise that he would be discreet. He is also incredibly calm. Perhaps that's the wrong word...he's calm, but even when there are bullets whizzing past him, he sort of shrugs, goes, "That was close" and decides to be more careful in the future. Nothing fazes the man, which is what makes this book so humorous. He uses his charm to great advantage, brokering deals and skirting a line of assassins and seductresses waiting to get at him, because he knows this is his last chance to get everything he's always wanted. Bankrupt and living off his wife's money, with a stepdaughter Melanie (who's so nasty that even the reader begins to address her-- like everyone else in the book seems to-- as The Bitch) who is ready to do whatever it takes to really hurt Jonas; we know it's his last chance, too. And knowing this, that he may have a chance to get Tess back, that he may get to be a real father to his son, that he may never have to worry about money again...things that we all would like...make us really, desperately, want him to triumph. Despite his flaws, and, maybe, because of them.
But this isn't just a funny book starring a roguish guy. There is a ton of stuff going on all the time. Kaiser throws lots of balls up into the air...and with incredible deftness manages to keep each one in circulation. You get glimpses at other characters, at what moves they're working on against (and ever so rarely, for) our hero. There is always a situation brewing, a dead body turning up. It makes the book impossible to put down. True, some of the character names are a little silly, Crystal Clear for the mistress, Carly Van Hooten for the seductress...but I prefer thinking of it as a recalling of the classic Ian Fleming Bond novels.
Black Sheep is an amazing, silly, fabulous read that will have you grinning from ear to ear as you turn the pages.
- Amazon readers rating: from 5 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Stranger in My Arms (1993)
- Payback (1998)
- Jane Doe (1999)
- Fruit Cake (2000)
- Glamour Puss (2000)
- Hoodwinked (2001)
- Squeeze Play (September 2002)
- Black Sheep (September 2003)
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- The Mystery Reader review of Black Sheep, Hoodwinked, Payback and Jane Doe
- The Celebrity Cafe review of Black Sheep
- BookReporter.com reivew of Black Sheep
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About the Author:
R.J. Kaiser was born in Wichita, Kansas, grew up in Chicago, and moved with his family to the San Francisco Bay Area when he was 12 years old. Kasier attended the University of California at Berkeley where he received an A.B. degree and a Juris Doctorate in Law. He was a commissioned officer in United States Army Intelligence, and served as a captain in Vietnam. After returning to civilian life, Ronn received a master's degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
He has published scholarly articles, worked for the United States Congress in Washington, for a specialized agency of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, and was a business executive and consultant for over 10 years.
Kaiser has always enjoyed writing, but couldn’t figure out a way to make a living doing it. But about 15 years ago he had a month of free time between consulting jobs, so he wrote a novel. He fell in love with the creation of a novel and knew it was what he had to do. Fortunately, the next book he wrote sold and he’s been writing ever since. Ronn has taught and lectured on creative writing and made radio and television appearances in connection with his writing career.
Ronn is married to romance writer Janice Sutcliffe-Kaiser. They have been writing full-time for twenty years, sharing their personal and professional lives.