Thursday, January 30, 2014

What we're reading: older books new to us

This past weekend I decided that, rather than get my books exclusively from the "new" shelf, I would go looking for an already established series, so that if I liked it I could keep reading. I haven't started a mystery series for awhile, so I went to one author who was a known quantity and one who was completely random based on the jacket copy, and was pleased with both my choices.

I had already read two stand-alone books by author Alafair Burke (previously reviewed here and here), so when I discovered that she has a series featuring a deputy district attorney, I decided that might be a good investment of my time. Burke was a former DDA herself, so presumably whatever she wrote in this persona would at least be accurate and hopefully be interesting. Although it looks like she later abandoned her Samantha Kincaid character in favor of a detective named Ellie Hatcher, she did write two more, which I will read after Judgment Calls.

Samantha is a bit of a maverick as DDAs go, mostly because the old boys' club in the district attorney's office is off-putting to someone who doesn't enjoy sexist humor. She also has a conflicted love life with her on-again off-again high school crush, Chuck Forbes, who grew up to be a police detective, offering a potential conflict of interest, depending on what cases each is working while they are involved (which comes into play in this one). I liked the plot and pacing of this book, and the story took a really unexpected turn at the end, which is always good--you don't like to think you know whodunit from halfway through and then be right! Definitely suspenseful and satisfying.

The book I took on faith and jacket copy was Adrenaline, by Jeff Abbott. Although I had heard vaguely positive things about him before, I had never read anything by Abbott; but it said "thriller" on the cover, I was in the mood, and the description sounded intriguing.

Sam Capra and his wife, Lucy, seemingly have an idyllic life: They're in love, working together for "the Company" (the CIA) in London, and expecting their first child in about two months. One day, however, Sam gets a rather strained phone call at work from Lucy, who tells him to get out of the building--now. He tries to find out more, but her urgency convinces him something is wrong, so he runs outside, only to see Lucy sitting in the passenger seat of a stranger's car. As he runs toward her, the building behind him blows up, killing everyone with whom he was meeting just minutes before--and then the stranger and Lucy drive away. This is the set-up for a convoluted, action-packed search by Sam for Lucy (and their baby), for her kidnapper (or is he her co-conspirator?), for motive, for the big picture, for revenge, all while avoiding (re-)capture by the CIA.

This was really well done. All the characters are fully fleshed out and described so that you have a clear picture of them in your mind as you read, yet it never feels as if the action stalls while descriptions are being given, because all the information is woven seamlessly into the high-octane story. I love that Sam practices parkour as a hobby--it acts as a metaphor for the zigs and zags of the plot, and also enables him to perform physical feats that would be less believable if you didn't know he was a parkour expert. Just enough is left unexplained as you go to keep you reading, and I'll be checking out The Last Minute as soon as I'm done with this blog post, to find out what happens next in the Sam Capra saga.

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