Review: A Real Piece of Work by Chris Orcutt

A compelling mystery, well written and very entertaining


You can tell from the naming of his main characters – Dakota Stevens and Svetlana Krüsh – that author Chris Orcutt has a sense of humour, and this is apparent throughout his writing. This book is no comedy – far from it – but Orcutt displays a lightness of touch in dealing with his characters that makes it a joy to read.

The story focuses around ex FBI agent now turned PI Dakota, and his ‘beautiful assistant’ chess world champion Svetlana. They are offered a job to find a missing painting – and paid a substantial amount in advance. When their client goes missing, they have the option of taking the money and doing nothing. But that is not Dakota’s style – and as he begins to investigate what seems like a simple art theft, the plot genuinely does thicken. Dakota and Svetlana piece by piece uncover a much greater crime dating back to decades earlier.

The Plot, Characters and Pace – 5 for plot, 4.8 for characters, 5 for pace

This is an extremely well written novel. It has all the elements you would want to find in a book of this genre: plenty of fast action, beautiful women, secret wealth and bravery beyond measure. But add in a couple of extra ingredients and you have a real winner. The extra ingredients? The quality of the writing. The book moves at a pace, and it’s a consistent pace. It never flags. But the ingredient that makes this a winner for me is definitely Orcutt’s wit. He paints the Dakota Stevens character so well that you cannot fail to like him.

Like another reviewer, I would love to understand his relationship with Svetlana. As a man who seems to jump on every available woman at every opportunity, it remains a mystery why the gorgeous Svetlana seems to be excluded from his attentions (although he makes several comments that would suggest there is no lack of interest on his part). And I did find it slightly difficult to keep up to speed with all of the characters – particularly early on in the book. But I have concluded that this is a failing on my part. Possibly reading this book into the early hours of the morning didn’t help my memory! And so I couldn’t quite go with a 5 score for the characters – even thought the lead characters were superbly depicted. There were just a few names thrown about of people who you didn’t quite get to meet (mainly because they were dead, it has to be said!), and the slightly confusing relationship with Svetlana. However the author tells me that more of this relationship becomes apparent in the next book.

Some reviewers have commented that this book would make an excellent film. I disagree. I think it has TV series written all over it. An excellent novel that is well worth reading. I’m seriously looking forward to the next in this series. Overall, a well deserved 5 (and I don’t give 5s lightly!).

Quality of the experience – 5

The book was well formatted, and I wasn’t conscious of any mistakes at all. There was nothing to intrude into the overall experience, and nothing to detract from the pleasure of the reading this book.

I reviewed this book on behalf of the Kindle Book Review – so no comments are made about value for money.