Dead Aim is an interesting enough book that it’s worth noting, even though it is far from all it could have been. The first Silhouette Intimate Moments release by historical author Anne Avery, it’s a fast read, but also far too shallow to be much more than a modest diversion.
Wildlife biologist Rick Dornier usually spends his days studying grizzly bears in Montana. But when he learns his sister has disappeared, he immediately heads to the small Colorado college town where she’s a student to search for her. His investigation leads to Maggie Mann, who works at a local coffee shop and who may know more about what happened to his sister.
Maggie is actually an undercover DEA agent working to find the source of heroin that’s being brought into the town. She doesn’t believe Rick’s sister is involved in smuggling the drugs, but she must have discovered something she wasn’t supposed to know. So Maggie and Rick join forces to find out what happened to his sister.
This is very much an average book. It gets the job done efficiently – no more, no less. There’s nothing really wrong with the story itself. It’s reasonably intriguing. The main characters each have issues in their past that make this case meaningful for them, which gives the reader a little more to be invested in with this story and how it turns out. Rick and Maggie are also likable enough characters. Rick’s profession is nicely different and he’s a kind, courteous, almost chivalrous type of hero, the kind of man who walks on the street side of the sidewalk when they’re together, and insists on escorting Maggie to her car. He’s really almost too perfect. Maggie is fine for the most part, although she is a little annoying with her reactions to their relationship at the end. The story moves quickly. Very quickly. Speed of light quickly. The author keeps the action coming at a nonstop rate, and the case itself, involving drugs and art, is interesting enough. There are certainly far worse ways to spend a couple of hours.
But it’s also a very shallow sort of read. The reason it moves so quickly is that the author barely slows along the way for little things like, say, character development, description, or romance. The result is an underwritten story and character development of any kind is sorely lacking. The author has a potentially good story here, but apparently no interest in offering a take on it that goes past the surface. Rick’s backstory is explained, then Maggie’s, then the story is off and running, without bothering to offer any meaningful exploration of either character. It’s like the author said, “There it is. Let’s move on.” That’s the kind of book this is, which makes it perfect for anyone with a very short attention span.
The story moves so fast that it never generates much real suspense. At the beginning of the second chapter Maggie has a mysterious phone conversation that lets the reader know she’s not just a coffee shop manager, without revealing who she really is. I’m not sure why the author bothered being coy, since we find out she’s DEA in chapter three. And the romance happens so fast it’s barely believable that they’re sexually attracted to each other, let alone in love. I’ve read books where the characters fell in love in a shorter amount of time than this and it felt believable because of the intensity or emotion of the characters’ feelings. That’s not the case here. The way it plays out is: they both realize they’re attractive when they first meet, then the romance isn’t really mentioned for a while, then the author realized, “Oh, right! Romance! They should have sex!” So they do. Then more action. Then more sex, where they talk about how fast this is happening and how they can’t believe what they’re feeling. It’s a good thing they say what they’re feeling, since the author never really bothers to show it. At the end of the story she does her best to end the romance on a convincing note by having Maggie think about how much Rick has come to mean to her in such a short amount of time. It was going to take much more than one page at the end of the book to make a love story this perfunctory convincing.
While Dead Aim kept me entertained while I read it, my involvement was strictly at the surface. The book kept me turning the pages without becoming engaged in the characters, the suspense, or the romance, none of which were deeper than the pages they were printed on. Basically, it’s all flash and no substance. This is a book that’ll pass the time, and that’s all. If you’re looking for something that will stick with you more than an hour, or ten minutes, after you finish it, this is not the book for you.