Shadow Fall -- Laura Griffin
Book 9 of Tracers series
I jumped right into reading Shadow Fall before I even bothered with the book's official summary blurb--I suppose this goes to show how much I've come to enjoy reading Laura Griffin's romantic suspense books and how much I've come to anticipate a Tracers installment.
Shadow Fall is immensely enjoyable despite the standard Romantic Suspense formula, because it is written with an intensity that keeps you interested and turning the pages without fail. I definitely enjoyed it a lot, although I am slightly less enamored with the way that the romance played out. But otherwise, the rest of the book focusing on the serial killer and criminal mystery was quite entertaining.
A woman is killed in a gruesome manner and FBI Special Agent Tara Rushing is tasked to insert herself into the local law enforcement to investigate this murder because the victim is a former political candidate. Liam Wolfe, former marine and current owner of an elite security consultant service is one of the main suspects by local law enforcement--in recent history, Liam had taken the murder victim as a client.
As the investigation progresses, however, Tara finds that there might have been more than the one murder tied to the same killer MO--a serial killer may be operating out of these backwoods of East Texas. And as new evidence is uncovered and examined by the Delphi Center, Texas' best forensic organization, leads show a striking connection between the killings and Liam Wolfe or maybe the men who work for him.
Some aspects of Laura Griffin books tend to recycle themselves sometimes, but in my opinion, if I enjoy them and they work, then I don't really let it bother me. But it doesn't escape my notice. Nonetheless, as I'd stated already, this most recent installment of the Tracers series is highly enjoyable and quite a page-turning experience.
While the romance played out a bit more frustratingly, and there was less of a connect to the characters, the rest of the book progressed smoothly concerning the murders and crime thriller. I would have liked a bit more interaction between Liam and Tara before the "I love you"s were tossed around, even if they waited until the end of the book (Standard Romantic Suspense Procedure™) to throw them out there.
As far as the love story goes, I can usually get behind insta-lust (because that's human nature), but the insta-love came on the heels of that instant attraction way too quickly for me to be comfortable behind. Especially when Liam's idea of caring for someone or falling in love with someone means telling her to stop doing her job or run away from her responsibilities--his controlling behavior irked me just as much as it did Tara, which makes me glad that Tara doesn't just take his demands and runs with them.
In this aspect, I like Tara a lot; I'm glad she doesn't just let a man she's lusting after bulldoze his way into her life and start telling her what to do. Tara is a trained FBI agent (even if there are moments when she doesn't act like it), and also part of a SWAT team. Realistically, I'm glad she has a lot of flaws as well, playing on the "rookie investigator" angle of it all, but also being bad-ass enough to tell the man to "shove it" when he starts thinking he can tell her what to do just because he's developed some caveman protective instincts--as sweet as that may seem. Then again, at least Liam recognizes the futility of trying to be the controlling alpha leader around Tara and accepts it.
And so, in Shadow Fall the criminal aspects of the book overshadow the love story quite a bit, but still managed to remain balanced enough that I enjoyed it. We had all the typical investigating processes, though--collecting and examining evidence, profiling, interviewing witnesses... it all goes by in a blur and if it weren't for the analytical mind of Tara's, I might have zoned out. It takes a great character to put things into perspective rather than simply going through the standard operating motions.
The identity of the killer DID come out of left field, even if it didn't really feel like it at the time. And there were a lot of unresolved issues surrounding certain side characters and certain situation twists with the local law enforcement, although I guess this is fairly realistic that not everything has a proper conclusion, even if I don't care for loose ends.
The pissing wars between law enforcement organizations--local law and FBI--seemed irrelevant in the long term of events though, so I'm not sure how to take all of that.
Hot sex ensues, no damsel in distress situations, lots more of badassery by Agent Rushing, Happily Ever After™...
On a side note:
I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment which has a plot surrounding cyber crimes--I'm hyped already 'cause that is one of my more favorite plot devices in a crime thriller as of recent. If anyone's got some good recommendations for books with cyber crime aspects in it, please let me know. Apparently I'm not very good at finding them.