Burning Proof (Janice Cantore) – Review

2 stars

 

Publisher’s description
After months of investigating the brutal homicide of a young girl, Detective Abby Hart finally has the evidence she needs. But when the arrest goes terribly wrong, Abby begins to doubt her future as a police officer. As she wrestles with conflicting emotions, old questions about the fire that took her parents’ lives come back to haunt her.

“There is proof.” PI Luke Murphy can’t stop thinking about what Abby’s former partner, Asa Foster, mumbled just before he died. When he uncovers a clue to the murder of Abby’s parents and his uncle, he’s reluctant to tell Abby, despite his growing feelings for the beautiful detective.

A decade-old abduction case brings Luke and Abby together, but will his secret tear them apart?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wish you would take some more time off,” Ethan sid as he settled onto the couch.  They’d come back to Abby’s with a DVD to watch – one she picked out, an old movie: The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.
Abby sighed and sat next to him.  Bandit joined them a second later, sitting on Abby’s lap.  “I’m ready to get back to work.  You know I hate hanging around here doing nothing when there are cases on my desk.”  She hoped he didn’t hear the indecision in her voice.  It’s just butterflies, she thought.  I am ready.
“I don’t think anyone would hold it against you if you took a few more days off.”  He pressed Play.  “I’m set to be in Butte Falls for that church project I told you about.  I want to be sure you’re okay before I leave.”
“Ethan, I’ll be fine,” she said more stridently than she meant to.  Sitting up, she turned to look at him while the opening credits played on the TV screen.  “I’m sorry; that was harsh.  I love how you’ve been there for me lately, but I don’t need  keeper.  I need to feel useful.”
He smiled, but not before she saw irritation flit across his brow.  “I like taking care of you.  Sometimes I fear that homicide work will destroy you.  I’ve told you that before.”  He reached out and put his hand over hers.  “Maybe this shooting is highlighting a door marked Exit.”
He moved his hand to her lips, stifling the protest there.  “I’ll be leaving in the morning and be out of your hair.  All I ask is that after I go, you seriously consider the possibility, okay?”
Abby held his gaze, seeing the warmth and concern there.  Before the shooting, what he’d just said would have had her back up and her anger simmering.  But right now she was walking a tightrope of emotion about returning to work and she couldn’t spare a thread to lash out at him.
Besides, what if he was right?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My review
I was expecting more from this book, which disappointed me from both a romantic and a suspense point of view.  This is the second book in Janice Cantore’s Cold Case Justice series, and I do suggest you start with the first in the series, Drawing Heat; but do so realising that you will need to read the entire series in order to get closure on some of the plot lines.

The overarching story to this series is the unresolved murder of Abby’s parents and Luke’s uncle, all of whom died in the same incident twenty-seven years ago, however both Abby and Luke also investigate other crimes during the course of the series.  In this second novel in the series, the investigation into the incident that took their relatives’ lives takes a back seat as Abby deals with the aftermath of an arrest that went pear-shaped, and Luke looks into a ten-year-old cold case of a young girl who was kidnapped and raped, but then escaped from the boot of her attacker’s car before he could murder her.

To begin with, this novel tells rather than shows, which puts any book on the back foot for me.  This was compounded by the fact that a significant percentage of this book (as in, the middle 50% – 60%) had little action or suspense.  Scene after scene got bogged down in expository narrative or the character’s inner monologue, and even those scenes that did have dialogue often suffered from narrative interruptions to offer further information and explanation.  The plot did progress (slowly), and we got glimpses into the antagonists’ plans every so often, but nothing terribly exciting happened until everything came together in the last 25%, meaning the story sagged right through the middle.

As far as the romance is concerned, Abby has been engaged to Ethan, a world travelling missionary, since before the series began.  He has been trying to persuade Abby to leave her job so she can join him in his work, but Abby firmly believes that her mission field is bringing justice to victims of crime.  Ethan is concerned that solving her parents’ murder has become an obsession, and that her job continually puts her life in danger.  Every interaction between these two covers this same ground, and goes nowhere.  Quite frankly, I think it would have been kind of important to discuss this prior to an engagement, but moving on…

Luke is a PI and a single father to eleven-year-old Maddie since his wife died in a car crash several years ago.  Since his uncle died in the same incident that killed Abby’s parents, he has been much more sympathetic to Abby’s need for justice and closure, and as they have worked together each has acknowledged (to themselves) a growing attraction to the other.  Neither has acted on this attraction due to Abby’s engagement, but it gets really old when the characters have to note their attraction every time they speak to/think about/see the other person, and then immediately berate themselves for it; especially when one wonders why Abby is engaged to Ethan in the first place (except as a reason to keep Abby and Luke apart.)

Without giving any spoilers, a kink does develop in this pseudo-love triangle as the novel progresses, but it gave rise to several eye-roll moments and had me wanting to hit one of the characters over the head with my iPad at the end of the book.  I really hope this isn’t going to be the pattern for the final book in the series.

I wish I had something more positive to say about this novel, but it was a let-down on so many fronts.  I will probably see this series through to the end now that I’ve come this far, just so that I can get some closure, but I’m hoping it will have a little more to offer than this one did.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Buy from:      Amazon.com                  Amazon.com.au

Release date:  1 March 2016
Pages:  400
Publisher:  Tyndale House
Author’s website:  http://www.janicecantore.com/

Previous books in the series:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Coming in September 2016 – CatchingHeat
Twenty-seven years after the deaths of Detective Abby Hart’s parents, she’s desperate to find the proof that will put the mastermind behind bars. When she joins a newly formed task force and teams up with PI Luke Murphy, Abby is sent to San Luis Obispo to work the cold case of a murdered college student. Realizing their investigation will bring them near the town where [spoiler removed – revealed in the second book] grew up, Abby decides to do a little digging of her own into the Triple Seven fire.

Luke is eager to help Abby close the books on a case they both have personal stakes in. But as she uncovers long-held secrets, Abby stumbles into an explosive situation, and Luke fears that her obsession may prove deadly.

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About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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