Saturday, September 21, 2013

Review: Critical Pursuit

I love good crime drama.  Particularly from a Christian author.  And when that author is Janice Cantore, a retired cop (22 years), I love it even more.

Critical Pursuit is the newest Cantore novel, and this introduces officer Brinna Caruso and her 4-legged partner, Hero.  I have previously reviewed Accused, the first novel in Cantore's Pacific Justice series.

I'll point out off the top that this book has a lot in common with that series.  Good female cop with a "religious nut" for a mother, sensationalist reporters, and high-profile junk going on.

But it works.  The fact that I never once used a bookmark might be one indication.  I did stick my finger in between the pages and close the book once, in order to hug my kids goodnight.  But I never set it down, until after I read the very last word.

From the publisher:
Officer Brinna Caruso has built a reputation at the precinct as the cop to call when a child goes missing. For Brinna, it’s personal because she was once one of them. Brinna and her K-9 search and rescue dog, Hero, will stop at nothing to find a missing child, no matter the stakes.

Detective Jack O’Reilly isn’t ready to return to his homicide duties, after losing his wife to a drunk driver. He’s on the downside of his career, and bent on revenge, when he’s assigned as Brinna’s partner. While on patrol, Jack struggles between his quest for personal justice and his responsibility to those around him, especially his partner.

Skeptical of Jack’s motives, Brinna isn’t sure she can rely on her new partner, whose reckless abandon endangers the safety of those around him. But when a man surfaces with an MO similar to the criminal who abducted Brinna twenty years earlier, Brinna and Jack must cast aside previous judgments and combine efforts to catch the kidnapper, and finally allow Brinna the peace stolen from her as a child.
The best part of the book is how it just feels so real.  I've never been a cop, though I've known a few, so it isn't like I can truly speak to what it is actually like.  I'm pretty sure that TV doesn't portray reality all that well, but that's about all I know.

This book, though, has complex characters dealing with each other in ways that mostly ring true.  The police work isn't all "action movie" worthy, with some boring nights on patrol being part of the story as well.  The overall story seems plausible, and it was nice to know "whodunit" pretty much from the start.  It felt a bit like those Columbo episodes, where you start off by watching the crime and then you sit back to see how Columbo figures it out.

In this case, you don't know for sure what the crimes will be, but you do know who they are looking for, and there is a little bit of getting inside his head.

I was a bit concerned, I'll admit, because of the subject matter -- abducted kids.  Cantore does not get into all the gory details, but this story is grittier than others of hers that I have read.  You know at least the basics of what happened to the kids, but much of that is implied and not described.

One concern I had with Accused was how preachy it got partway through the story.  The religious aspect came up naturally, but sometimes felt pretty forced.  This book, however, didn't hit me that way.  There were strong, Christian characters and they expressed their beliefs without compromise, but it felt far more genuine.

I cannot wait for Visible Threat to come out in January.

You can read the first chapter of Critical Pursuit for yourself!

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

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