Why I read it: This is one from my personal library.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) When an eleven-year-old is abducted on her way to school, the FBI doesn’t waste a moment, sending agents to scour the area and embedding Special Agent Ava McLane with the distraught family. In the eye of the storm is local detective Mason Callahan, whose life is crumbling to pieces – he’s related to the victim, and his longtime confidential informant has just been murdered.
Both he and Agent McLane hole up in the victim’s family home. Every second counts in a kidnapping case, and the stakes keep rising the longer the girl is missing. As Ava and Mason struggle to hold the family together in their darkest hour, the two investigators find themselves drawn to each other.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): With the focus more on the suspense than the romance, I had mixed feelings about this one. There are other books planned for the Callahan and McLane series so I expect the romance will build over time. In some respects I thought there wasn’t enough romance in this one but I also thought that what there was moved too fast. I didn’t quite catch the attraction and build up to desire so when the pair take an (appropriate) time out of the investigation for some sexytimes it kind of came out of left field for me. Similarly by the end, they seemed to have moved farther along the relationship trail than what I could reasonably believe, even allowing for the pressure cooker environment in which they met.
Ava is embedded with the family of the missing girl and her role is less investigative, so I didn’t feel that taking some time out for a bit of romance affected the case very much. So too was Mason not actively investigating and I thought it was a clever way around a thorny RS issue.
Ava was new to me but I had met Mason before, in the previous book – Alone which I reviewed at AudioGals. I don’t think it’s necessary to read the earlier book/s and this stands alone well. The story did very well at showing all the ways the various agencies investigate missing children and the general co-operation between the agencies seemed authentic. A lot of the investigative information had the ring of authenticity and I didn’t feel things were made unrealistic just to serve the plot – right up until nearly the end. I will discuss that bit under a spoiler tag because of where it occurs in the book but will try and discuss it without naming names.
There is a hostage situation and standoff as the grand finale. The hostage-taker wants to speak to a particular person and the hostage negotiator agrees only if the hostage-taker will agree not to shoot [the person] on sight. I just didn’t see that as realistic. At the very least, I’d have thought the negotiator would have asked for the release of the hostage in exchange or, for the hostage-taker to give up his gun. This wasn’t even discussed. Nope. It was just “promise not to shoot [the person]”. Seriously? You’d trust this person’s word? Dude, he’s got a hostage and he’s clearly not rational – why on earth would this be good enough? But, [the person] had to be in the room so… I thought the artistic license was taken too far here, especially when the rest of the police and FBI investigation activity felt so realistic.
Some of the actions of the villain seem far-fetched but this is fairly standard for romantic suspense so that didn’t bother me. I liked the way the story built to its finale and if that finale (see spoiler) had been more authentic I think I would have graded this one at a half-grade better – that is: B-/B.
What else? I enjoyed Nick Podehl’s narration – it wasn’t overwrought but still delivered the emotion and tension of the story. I was slightly less fond of Amy McFadden’s but only because there was a voice she used occasionally – for Lillian and even Ava slipped into it late in the book which was full of the patronising and didn’t feel like it fit the characters. This is one of those audiobooks where the female narration takes the sections from the female POV and the male narrates the sections from a male POV – so both narrators had to cover the gamut of characters. I actually like this style of narration and it does help to signal a change in POV, even though I didn’t think it would have been unclear otherwise.
The production quality was good and I don’t recall any vocal errors.
Though there is certainly a child in danger at the beginning of the story, this book doesn’t contain gratuitous violence or scenes of torture or abuse so I can’t think of any particular trigger warnings, other than that is a romantic suspense and the genre generally involves bad guys doing bad things.
I liked it fair to middling myself, and will probably read the second book to see how things develop. I really appreciated that both main characters actually seemed like grown ups rather than teens with grown up jobs.
@Erin Burns: Yes, I’d probably say I liked it around that much too. Both main characters are older and they did seem mature. I think the next book focuses on Ava’s sister. I’m interested but kind of scrinching my eyes a bit because I’m wary of the “crazy twin” trope. Fingers crossed!
ETA: when I say “focuses on Ava’s sister” I understand the crime and conflict surround her, not that the romantic relationship is anything to do with her.