I enjoy Julie Miller’s romantic suspense novels set among the Kansas City Police Department. I like the idea that people work in teams and are connected as family, friends, and colleagues, and while the idea that all find their happily-ever-afters consecutively in the course of their work stresses plausibility just a bit, I am happy to go along for the ride. Tactical Advantage, the third installment in the six-part The Precinct: Task Force series, is a pleasant addition to the lot.
In The Precinct: Task Force, KCPD must deal with a very clever serial rapist who leaves next to no traces. Tactical Advantage starts off on New Year’s Eve with the rapist kidnapping and later releasing another victim, while he is observed by another person who has ties to him somehow. Later, the victim is discovered dead in an alley – a departure from the rapist’s usual method that causes the police a lot of worry.
Two members of KCPD’s task force are summoned to the crime scene. Criminologist Annie Hermann has spent a lonely evening with her two cats, while Detective Nick Fensom has enjoyed a happy dinner with his large and boisterous family. Annie and Nick spend a lot of time bickering during task force meetings, and while Nick recognizes this as a sign of underlying sexual attraction, Annie is just annoyed with the smart detective. When Annie is investigating the crime scene and collecting probes while Nick is on the phone just around the corner, she is attacked by a masked figure, her probes stolen. Two further policemen ought to have been guarding the site, but they were drawn away by two men masquerading as KCPD members. So now Annie may be in danger (she fits the rapist’s victim profile), Nick appoints himself her bodyguard and refuses to leave her side until the immediate threat is gone.
The concept of this romance is throwing two people who have been attracted to each other for some time but don’t acknowledge it together 24/7 and watching the fireworks. Annie and Nick are very different in many ways, but far more compatible than they imagine, and it’s sweet seeing them realize this. While Annie first resents Nick’s interference most forcefully, subsequent events prove that he is both extremely useful to have around and much kinder and more sensitive than she expects. Nick has always respected Annie’s expertise, but now that he gets to know her better, he also appreciates her character and takes her occasional prickliness in stride.
About the sensuality rating: The book is set over the course of a very short period (2 or 3 days), filled to the brim with police investigation and other excitement, and the author makes the excellent decision to let the physical development of the relationship go slowly (there really would not have been any time) while keeping up the heat of attraction.
There are amusing and not overly cutesy scenes with Nick’s family, and while several former Precinct heroes and heroines make an appearance, they do so in an unobtrusive manner just to do their jobs, not to present baby photos and show off their extreme happiness.
Tactical Advantage is only the third book in a series of six, so the progress made in solving the case is really just one step, albeit an important one, and the ending of the novel is rather abrupt. After I had finished Tactical Advantage I went and read the first volume, The Marine Next Door, also very enjoyable, but I am fairly sure now that I have spotted the villain. If doing so too early in a series bothers you, consider yourself warned.
Tactical Advantage is a pleasant read with engaging characters that offers interesting insight into the work of the police. While I enjoyed it, it lacks the something outstanding that would make it a DIK. That said, I am looking forward to reading other books by Julie Miller.