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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Janice Cantore: Drawing Fire

By Kelly Bridgewater


From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

One case from her past defines homicide detective Abby Hart.

With a possible serial killer stalking elderly women in Long Beach, California, Abby’s best lead is Luke Murphy, an irritating private investigator who saw a suspect flee the scene of the latest homicide. When Abby discovers that the most recent victim is related to the governor, she’s anxious to talk to him about a cold case that’s personal to her—one Luke is interested in as well.

As she learns more about the restaurant fire that took her parents’ lives years ago, Abby discovers why Luke is so invested in finding the ones responsible. The more they uncover, though, the more questions they have. Can Abby find peace without having all the answers?

My Thoughts:

I have become a fan of Janice Cantore’s police procedural romantic suspense when I read Accused, the first book in her Pacific Coast Justice Series. I love how Janice Cantore uses her knowledge from working on the police force to create a realistic look into all the drama and struggles that occur for the men and women who serve our local communities. Drawing Fire gives readers a ride along for the hunt to bring justice to a cold case.

True to a romantic suspense, the story needs to start with an inciting incident and try to solve that mystery, which propels the story forward. The conflict starts in the first chapter, allowing Abby Hart and Luke Murphy’s world to collide as Abby is called to a home of a dead elder lady. The officers call this a case of the serial killer they nickname granny murder. Most romantic suspense stories wrap themselves in trying to solve the initial problem, but Cantore solves this murder pretty quickly and does not return, leaving the one suspect to take the fall for the murder without question.

The incident that drives Abby and Luke is the cold case of the Triple Seven murders. Abby is blinded by drive to seek justice and revenge for her parents’ death. Similarly, Luke is determined to hunt for a young runaway named Nadine who ran away from home because she is pregnant. As much as the inciting incident being solved so quickly bothered me, Cantore allows Nadine to get beaten up, but there is no mention of what happens to her pregnancy. Along the same lines, the first sixty percent of the story is back-story and catching the reader up on all the research that Luke and Abby have personally done on the Triple Seven Murders. It was slow going. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen, but it didn’t. Once Luke went on a run and got shot at, the story started to take off and moved like a suspense book, but it was about sixty-five percent in.

Cantore created Luke and Abby to be practically equal foils. While Luke is a private investigator, Abby Hart is a homicide investigator. Both of them have lost significant people in their early life. Both of them have had mentors who helped them settle in their final career choices. Cantore does a good job at showing the readers how Abby and Luke think, but I feel disconnected between how Abby and Luke actually feel. Cantore tells us how they feel, not show the readers. One of the favorite aspects of the book was the laid back romance. Abby is engaged to someone else, but she wonders about Luke. Luke can’t stop thinking about Abby. It was nice to see the guy falling for Abby, which breaks tradition because most books have the girl falling in love first. Even with the difficulties of the plot, I still like the characters of Abby and Luke.

Writing is what can make or break a story.  As for the dialogue, Cantore does allow words to flow naturally and reflect the attitude of Abby and Luke. The story world of Long Beach, California, is not described that well. It appears to be an afterthought for Cantore, not an important element to tie the reader to the story. Lastly, I never doubted Cantore’s expertise into the police world. Abby and the other officers treaded through this world naturally. I enjoyed this peek into the world of police work.

Drawing Fire has no questionable content that conservative readers of any age would question. The last thirty percent of the book would bring a great story to the romantic suspense genre. I just wished Cantore would weave in all the back-story while working hard to solve the cold case of her parents’ death while having complications to the serial killer and finding Nadine. Abby and Luke were never in any harm until the last third of the book. It was an original idea with using Abby as the victim and the investigator on the sly, but the story is not predictable. I had no idea who the actual bad guy was until Cantore revealed it at the last minute. If you can sludge through the first part of the book, the last part is more of Cantore’s style, which is evident in her other books. I truly enjoyed her first five books, but this one is not her usual writing style.

Overall, Janice Cantore’s Drawing Fire uses her vast knowledge in police work to bring three mysteries to the table with wounded characters on the path for justice but tells the story of leaving justice and revenge to God.

I received a complimentary copy of Drawing Fire from Tyndale Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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