Laura Griffin’s Tracers series has provided me with reliable romantic suspense reads for several books now. I know I can count on a deftly-plotted mystery, a solid romance, and a thrilling conclusion with each book. Deep Dark is no exception.
Laney Knox is employed by the Delphi Center, a crime lab, in the Cyber Investigation Unit as a good-guy hacker, one who tracks internet predators. She plays on the good guys’ team, yet she has ties to characters with a more ambiguous past. When a young woman is found brutally murdered, Laney takes an interest in the case due to a violent attack that happened to her years ago, one that bears striking similarities to the recent killing.
Her sleuthing causes her to cross paths with homicide detective Reed Novak. Reed is several years her senior, a hardened detective who wants to work his case without interference from the young hacker. But Laney knows he’s barking up the wrong tree with his focus on the victim’s ex-boyfriend, and that the key to solving the case lies with an online dating site. As they race along to try to uncover the identity of the murderer, Laney is brought into contact with the demons of her past and this time she may not escape.
I’ve heard it said that the best fantasy stories have one foot firmly grounded in reality and I believe the same is true for romantic suspense. What makes this book work is that it isn’t far-fetched. It feels real and the plausibility makes it all the more frightening. Who among us hasn’t wondered at some point, when sending a bit of personal information into cyberspace, exactly who is on the receiving end? If you didn’t wonder before reading Deep Dark, you will now.
There were multiple points while I was reading in which I found myself breathless with anticipation. The author excels at creating tension that mounts steadily, building to a crescendo only to shift gears and begin again. This is the sort of narrative that keeps me reading long past the time at which I should have turned out the lights and pulled the covers over my head.
Fortunately, the romance is not short-changed. Reed and Laney are immediately attracted to one another, though each has their reasons for being hesitant to act on the attraction. I liked the age gap between the two of them and that it wasn’t glossed over. Reed struggles with being drawn to someone so much younger, in addition to becoming intimate with someone close to his investigation. Since falling in love frequently happens at the most inconvenient times, overcoming those obstacles felt true to life.
Laney is tenacious, often to her own detriment, and Reed grows exasperated with her unwillingness to leave his case alone. What begins with the push and pull of a power struggle evolves as they begin to trust one another and realize they complement each other.
The plotting is tight, with the story well-paced while delivering the occasional curveball. My heart rate picked up in places as the danger to Laney increased and the tension built. By the time the conclusion approached I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough.
This is book ten of the Tracers series. It can be read as a standalone, but the other books in the series are worth checking out. I know I’ll be looking forward to book eleven.