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Aussie Book Review: Monkey Business by Kathryn Ledson

My Rating:              3 / 5
Format:                   ARC courtesy of Penguin Books Australia
Publication Date:    January 2014
Category:               Modern & Contemporary Fiction
ISBN:                      9781742537702
Publisher:               Penguin Australia
RRP:                      AU$29.99
From the Cover
Erica Jewell reckons being a part-time vigilante is stressful enough, without the added pressures of a demanding day job, annoying family and bossy cat. Now her mysterious lover has vanished on some clandestine mission, without leaving a forwarding address. Erica thinks that’s pretty typical of hired gun Jack Jones – he’d rather risk his life than his heart.
Then Erica discovers with a shock that Jack is M.I.A. on the jungle-infested island of Saint Sebastian. When no one seems willing to help find Jack or even acknowledge his existence, Erica knows she’s his only chance. But negotiating her way around lawless and sweltering Sebastian, where monkey business abounds, proves far more dangerous than she expected.
Fast-paced, funny and totally engaging, Monkey Business blends adventure and romance in an irresistible summer read.
Summary and Thoughts
Monkey Business is the second novel by Kathryn Ledson continuing the story of her accidental heroine Erica Jewell and picks up a few months after Rough Diamond ended.
Erica is now Jack’s girlfriend and, while he doesn’t seem to be aware of this fact, she is herself trying to work out exactly what their relationship is!  Unfortunately with him being an undercover operative, often away from home, it seems like seriously hard work, but even more so when she drunkenly confesses her “luff” for him after which he disappears.  When she receives a garbled called from Joe (another member of The Team) informing her that Jack has gone MIA on the island of St Sebastian and it becomes clear that no-one wishes to help her find him, she doesn’t hesitate to intervene.
Setting out for St Sebastian via Darwin, she befriends people like Duane, a rather enigmatic but gorgeous Brad Pitt look-alike with something to hide and “Bruce Willis”, a rip-off taxi driver who always appears to be in the wrong place at the right time – or is that the right place at the wrong time!
St Sebastian is a dangerous place where lawlessness and corruption rule the day, but when the Australian Embassy refuses to help her locate Jack, she almost aimlessly wanders  around the island, frequenting places like the Bum Crack Bar, asking a multitude of questions (and not really getting any answers), whilst unwittingly uncovering a ring of Tupperware thieves and unintentionally implicating her mother’s limited edition lettuce crisper into the bargain!  It’s in a moment of sheer desperation when it dawns on her that a little piece of retro plastic could well be the only hope she has of getting Jack out alive but it’s the series of events that follow which will have you both biting your nails in anticipation and laughing out loud at the sheer folly of the world she has become entangled in!
As most of you are aware, I’ve had a bit of a book review hiatus while I’ve been doing some studying, but this didn’t stop me getting some much needed reading in – call me a bookworm through and through.  In any event, when this novel found its way to me via the wonderful publicity department at Penguin Australia, I couldn’t wait to read it, knowing that Kathryn Ledson was going to lead me on another hilariously quirky adventure with Erica. 
Erica’s adventures are written from her POV, which works very well as, in doing so, Kathryn gives us a view into the mind of this accidental heroine and how her life experiences have affected both her emotions and actions.  She still has a few insecurities, not the least of which is her self-worth, thanks to her adulterous ex-husband Dan, and of course, she’s as ditzy as ever but it becomes obvious that there has been some growth in her character since Rough Diamond because she’s not merely taking people at face-value anymore and has begun trying to assert herself in the face of bossy behaviour! 
By no means “deep” reading, the Erica Jewell series does require some suspension of disbelief (which is not a bad thing) as the situations that the inexperienced Erica gets herself into can be somewhat unbelievable. Monkey Business is an easy to read book with Ms Ledson writing well and using simple language and the reader is easily drawn into the story as Kathryn takes the time to briefly reintroduce her main characters, thus creating a necessary backstory.  Her characters are easy to get to know, the romantic tension between Erica and Jack adds a bit of depth and the short and snappy dialogue in the action scenes move the story forward.
Kathryn writes true escapism and I’ve no doubt that she will continue to grow Erica’s idiosyncratic character in future stories, so if you have a great sense of humour, enjoy a bit of simmering romance and an eccentric cast of characters with heaps of fast-paced adventure, Monkey Business is sure to delight you.  Hang on to your seats for another wacky ride with Erica Jewell!
I wish to thank Penguin Australia for providing me with a hard copy for review.
A Little About the Author

Melbourne-based Kathryn Ledson has worked as a PA in the corporate world, for Hayman Island’s PR team, and as Peter Ustinov’s PA during his Australian tour. She has also been on the road with rock bands Dire Straits and AC/DC. She now works as a freelance editor, but her passion is writing popular fiction.
Monkey Business is her second novel. 

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