I’m a sucker for cold cases. Back eons ago (last year) when we had DirecTV, I happily spent hours watching shows about solving long dead cases and putting away criminals who thought they’d gotten away with it. It’s true – Netflix could support my habit and I do still get my on-screen fix from time to time. But mostly now I just read about it. Hint: it’s so much better that way!
Shameless plug for the benefits of reading instead of watching TV? Check.
On to the review.
Janice Cantore, a former Long Beach police officer of twenty-two years, is a well-established author of suspense but her books are – I’m embarrassed to say – new to me. Her newest release, Drawing Fire, was the first book of hers that I have read; it will most definitely not be my last! The suspense was sharply focused and action-packed, the characters were well-developed and likeable, and the faith element felt natural and ingrained. I was entertained from beginning to end … except that I wasn’t ready for it to be the end and kept frantically hitting my iphone with my finger until I accepted that you can’t turn pages that just aren’t there. A perfect setup for this first book in a new series!
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 Longwinded Review:
On the job, Abby Hart comes across as a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense detective. And she totally is. But I loved how Ms. Cantore also gave Abby a soft side – she loves Oreos and milk, she caves to a homeless dog, she feels insecure in romantic relationships, and sometimes she just has to cry. To me, this made Abby all the more “cheer-on-able”. (Do you like my new word? Webster’s peeps should be calling any minute.)
Abby’s relationship with both Ethan and Luke gave the book some great romantic tension. Who is better for her? The man she’s known most of her life, the one who encourages her to keep some perspective besides her parents’ case, the one who proposed? Or the man who makes her heart flutter inopportunely, the one who understands how she feels about her parents’ case, the one who can’t stop thinking about her? I thought her struggle was extremely realistic – how to reconcile the feelings she had for Luke while still being true to Ethan – and I appreciated that Ms. Cantore respected Ethan enough to make sure Abby did too.
But overall, the romance plays a very small role in Drawing Fire. The star of the show here is the suspense! Screen-worthy action and fight scenes are riddled throughout the story, and several smaller cases bulk up Abby’s case load while she tries to piece together the newly revealed clues in her parents’ murders. While the book slowed in some parts, you really can’t relax ever. Blink and you’ll miss a stunning twist. (On a side note: another point in this author’s favor is that, while there are many police terms and procedures mentioned, I never felt lost and I never felt like I was reading a law enforcement textbook. It had just the right balance of information to advance the plot without drowning me in details.)
Drawing Fire is an excellent read – full of action, mystery, romance, and an underlying message of leaving room for God’s justice before we obsess over meting out our own. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and am waiting anxiously for any word on book 2 in the series to answer my lingering questions!
(I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)
A former Long Beach, California, police officer of twenty-two years, Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments, including patrol, administration, juvenile investigations, and training. She’s always enjoyed writing and published two short articles on faith at work for Cop and Christ and Today’s Christian Woman before tackling novels. She now lives in a small town in southern Oregon, where she enjoys exploring the forests, rivers, and lakes with her two Labrador retrievers – Maggie and Abbie. Janice writes suspense novels designed to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Drawing Fire is the first book in her new series, Cold Case Justice. Janice also authored Critical Pursuit, Visible Threat, and the Pacific Coast Justice series, which includes Accused, Abducted, and Avenged. Visit Janice’s website at www.janicecantore.com and connect with her on Facebook.