Most of the military suspense I’ve read centers on special ops and other actions out in the field. However, living near a number of military installations and knowing a number of folks in various branches of military service, some of the more interesting stories I hear involve happenings on base. So, when I saw Person of Interest was a romantic suspense novel centered around an alleged crime that happens in military housing, it caught my eye. This book, from the inspirational Love Inspired Suspense line, starts off well, but a too-obvious villain and over-the-top crazy resolution dropped it in my estimation.
Veteran Natalie Frazier has returned to school, and welcomes the chance for some extra income by serving as nanny for a friend’s baby daughter while the child’s mother takes a temporary assignment on another base. Natalie has settled into her friend’s duplex at Fort Rickman when one night she hears what appears to be an argument next door. Things escalate until Natalie hears what sounds like an assault in progress inside the neighboring unit. She summons help, only to learn that the woman living next door has been killed.
So far, so good. The author does a wonderful job of dropping readers straight into the action and as I read, I kept wondering what could come next. As it turns out, there’s quite a lot left to unfold – some of it interesting, some of it ridiculous.
It turns out that the unit next door to Natalie’s friend housed a CID agent and his wife. Because of the possible involvement of a CID agent, the MPs call out investigator Everett Kohl. Kohl is immediately taken by Natalie upon meeting her, but thankfully this doesn’t stop him from doing his job. He interviews Natalie as a witness and not surprisingly at this point, authorities start off looking for any involvement the deceased woman’s husband might have in the incident.
And this is where it starts to get weird. It turns out that Mason Yates, the CID agent whose wife was killed, formerly served at the same base as Frazier in Germany. Not only that, but the two worked in the same office and apparently had some very negative interactions. So, let’s recap that. Not only do the heroine and the victim’s husband get stationed in the same place, but they come to hate each other and then get reunited when the heroine takes a job in the unit next door to where husband lives. Feels a little like overkill, doesn’t it?
Thankfully, the craziness of all these coincidences doesn’t escape the CID investigators either. They may be looking at Mason, but at least some of them also want to take a look at Natalie. Given some of the revelations in the book, Natalie looks at least a little bit suspicious and the authorities do go after her.
For her part, Natalie is immediately convinced that the victim’s husband is the guilty party, and she flees with her friend’s baby, fearing for their lives. Everett catches up with Natalie, and the rest of the story focuses on their efforts to figure out what happened and to get to safety. Once again, there are events revealed in the story that make Natalie’s conclusions look at least plausible, too. Even though the coincidental happenings in the story had my eyes rolling, the author keeps one reading because she does do a good job of making multiple explanations for events each look plausible. The result is a read that for much of the book feels suspenseful, with the reader kept at least slightly off balance.
However, by the halfway point of the book, the mood shifts from one of suspense to one where the characters still seem a touch clueless, but the reader has figured out who the culprit is. And so we wait for everyone to catch on and actually do something about rounding up the ever more obvious villain. The author does throw a bit of a twist into the plot, but it’s one that serves to make the ending seem more unbelievable and crazy rather than less.
And then there’s the romance – which just didn’t feel all that romantic. Basically, Everett has insta-attraction for Natalie. The two bond while on the run together. Since Everett is investigating Natalie (among other leads), there is obviously a trust issue between the two – not to mention some ethical issues for Everett. However, these issues don’t get the deeper treatment that could have helped the romance feel a little more real. I don’t mind romantic suspense novels where the suspense takes center stage, but the romance has to at least feel somewhat natural for the book to work for me. Natalie and Everett’s romance felt forced, and frankly I often thought they would have been better as friends.
With a less than winning romance and a suspense plot that weakened instead of strengthened as the book moved along, I just can’t recommend Person of Interest. The book does have some good points, but just not enough to put it on my “buy” list.
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