When I read romantic suspense I tend to read it more for the suspense than the romance as a general rule. In this case, I tried to read Jane Doe with an eye more towards the romance aspect. Unfortunately, both the suspense and the romance fell far short of my expectations. While the book had some good moments and some good characters, there were disturbing aspects of the story that were impossible to ignore.
Abby Hooper is the new police chief in Riverton, California. This is a tough job for anyone but for a woman in a town of good ol’ boys, it’s even tougher. The ex chief of police doesn’t want her there and since she is the first woman chief, many on the force are biased against her. When the also-ran, Frank Keegan, looks to be a suspect in a homicide, Abby feels things can only go downhill. The night of the murder, Frank got dead drunk and can’t remember a thing. He woke in a poor shape with a cut on his forehead. When the call about a girl washing up on shore comes through to Abby, Frank happens to be with her. Frank’s case is further worsened by the fact that the mystery girl, Jane Doe, washed up on his dock.
Frank knows in his own heart that he’s not guilty, but it’s important for him to convince Abby of his innocence since he is very attracted to her. Aside from the investigation, there is another barrier in Frank’s way – his past relationship with Abby’s mother, with whom he used to be romantically involved. They are just friends now for the most part, but Kay was with Frank the night of the Jane Doe murder. Abby has never gotten along with her mother and now that they are beginning to build a tentative relationship, she’s afraid that Frank could come between them.
Abby also has to deal with an ex boyfriend whose behavior is becoming increasingly more erratic and violent. His appearance towards the end of the book and his behavior towards Abby’s dog really left a bad taste in my mouth. The whole plot line is really unnecessary to begin with, and it detracts from the main mystery.
Frank is eminently likable, one of your basic good guys. He balances Abby’s intensity very well. They make a good investigative team and their dialogue is pretty snappy. Abby is a little too intense at times but because of her situation, it’s not too out of place. But the big snare here is the odd love triangle. Honestly, I could not really reconcile myself to a hero who had been involved with the heroine’s mother. I tried to get past it, but I don’t think I ever really did.
If Frank didn’t hurt Jane Doe, who did and why? The plot takes many twists and turns, a number of them dead ends, which gets a little frustrating after awhile. When you finally think Frank and Abby have hit on it, one last thing gets thrown at them, at the very end. It was extremely anticlimactic and I actually found myself saying Oh come on now! out loud. I found Abby, Frank and Kay fairly likable, but perhaps a little too unconventional. Unless you’re really open-minded, I recommend avoiding this one.