It’s always satisfying to watch an author getting better and better with every book, and with Twisted, Laura Griffin is in top form. This is the third time I’ve reviewed a book by this author, and each time, she keeps honing her craft. This time around, her latest entry in the Tracers series features a good romance and a creepy suspense plot that kept me flying through the pages.
Following a truly creepy flashback of a serial killer’s attack, the main story opens as rookie San Marco detective Allison Doyle enjoys a moment that is not exactly her finest. Despite her training, she finds herself at a disadvantage and unable to immediately get her hands free during a holdup at a store where she shops. Luckily, an FBI agent happens to be there and helps save the day. Later on, Allison meets that agent, Mark Wolfe, for dinner and learns that he is actually a profiler. He has come to the town of San Marco due to his suspicion that a local murder actually has ties to something larger and much more ominous. Even though Allison’s supervisor believes that the ex-boyfriend of the victim killed her, Mark thinks the crime fits the profile of a deadly serial killer and he believes that this killer will strike again.
What follows is a thrilling story of local police-FBI tension, a race to catch a killer, and in the middle of it all, a good romance. Mark’s suspicions make Allison start thinking and she starts digging through the evidence in her own office. What she finds causes her to draw a connection to another unsolved crime, and soon she and Mark (and eventually the police department) find themselves on the trail of the murderer. At first they seem to be hitting dead ends, but then they find out about untested evidence and they turn to Allison’s contacts to start getting answers. They start building a case, and Mark and Allison also start gradually building a romance.
Mark has been married before and his intense dedication to his job cost him that marriage. In addition, there’s a rather significant gap in age and experience between him and Allison. However, even though Allison at times shows her inexperience by making rookie mistakes on the job, she is also intelligent and perceptive, and these qualities help bridge the gap between her and Mark. The two have a believable level of attraction and I enjoyed seeing how they made things work. They falter sometimes along the way, but the journey makes for a great read. My only quibble with the story was that the plot sometimes focused on a case Mark worked back at Quantico and those sequences tended to pull me right out of the book.
This book is one of the few romantic suspense novels that balances the romance and the suspense very well. The suspense plot has intensity and really sucks the reader in, and the romance works well alongside it. Sometimes the plot action requires that the romance not occupy a front and center place in the story, but it never feels forgotten. The characters also worked well both from a suspense perspective and a romantic perspective. Mark and Allison have chemistry, but they also feel realistic as an FBI profiler and a small-town detective and I liked that the author resisted the temptation to make either lead into a larger-than-life Supercop. Mark knows his field inside and out, but his intense dedication to work has come at a price that many hard-charging professionals will recognize. Likewise, Allison enjoys her own job and feels quite dedicated to it, but she rose through the ranks to detective at a young age, and while she has good insights, she’s still rough around the edges and learning how to carry herself as a police officer.
If you enjoy thrillers, this one works quite well and is definitely several cuts above your average serial killer story. With a solid mystery and a good romance, this was one of my favorite entries in the Tracers series, and one that I didn’t want to end. I already cannot wait to read the next book in the series.