APB: Baby is the first volume in Julie Miller’s new series about the Kansas City Police Department, The Precinct: Bachelors in Blue. As usual with Miller, it is carried over from her last series, The Precinct: Cold Case, with the the leads from Kansas City Cover-Up getting married in the very first scene of the new novel. There are two crimes asking to be solved in this romantic suspense story: A retired KCPD detective is shot and seriously wounded during the wedding service, and a baby is left at the apartment of social worker Lucy McKane. She lives next door to Niall Watson, grandson of the wounded detective and a criminologist with the KCPD. In fact it’s Niall who first discovers the baby and takes care of him. For the baby’s sake, Lucy moves in with Niall for a few days, and they try to find out who the baby’s parents are, why they abandoned him, and who has been following Lucy in a silver car.
The novel’s strength lies in the descriptions of the police work and the police force. Leads from other novels turn up, but they do so in a very unobtrusive way. Niall is a charming hero, unusual in that he is almost certainly somewhere on the Autism spectrum, so focused he is on his work and so awkward in any social situation. Lucy is a nice contrast to him with strong social instincts and no fear of telling him what is what. You can see them dealing well together. The heat between them is built up nicely and convincingly.
On the other hand, I found it very hard to warm to Lucy. She has an overall rotten past – so much unhappiness for one person! – and this has caused her to suffer from helper’s syndrome. She needs to feel useful all the time, and constantly butts in where angels feat to tread. This includes running after criminals and searching a crime scene by herself. This kind of character development is actually plausible, but it galled that she is never called out for her behavior. Having first-hand experience of how thoroughly damaging such “helpers” can be, I found this rather disturbing.
Add to this some details that don’t quite work out: Tommy – the baby – is said to be one or two weeks old, but his behavior is that of a child of several months. The shooting of Niall’s grandfather is presented very dramatically, but then next to nothing happens with that case – it will surely be solved later in the series, but a small step now wouldn’t have harmed.
All in all this is a weaker Julie Miller novel. I will pick up the next in the series anyway, because usually her writing is much better, but I don’t think I will reread APB: Baby.