I love mysteries and I love romance, so when I find an author crafting both well, I definitely sit up and take notice. Though not all of her books have worked for me, Laura Griffin at her best is certainly one of these authors. With Untraceable, she’s on her game as she begins a new series that I suspect will get more than a few readers hooked on her writing.
Alexandra Lovell, a familiar character to those who read Whisper of Warning, owns her own PI business. Among other skills, she has the ability to assist clients in setting up new lives off the grid so that others cannot track them. As the novel opens, we learn that Melanie Bess, one of her clients, fled an abusive marriage in this manner. Unfortunately, it appears that Melanie didn’t stay put in her new life, but instead returned to Austin and then disappeared.
Alex learns this when she tries to contact Melanie through their prearranged communication method. She doesn’t hear from her, but she does find Melanie’s new residence back in Austin. When she goes out to the property looking for her, Alex finds evidence of foul play – and a nasty surprise that ultimately sends her to homicide detective Nathan Devereaux for assistance.
With no body, no communication from Melanie, and a distinct lack of evidence, Nathan is understandably skeptical of what Alex tells him. Still, he does listen to her and ultimately finds himself pulled into the investigation. What they find is something far beyond an abused wife fleeing an untenable and dangerous situation. However, as Alex and Nathan’s detective work uncovers an ever-growing amount of criminal activity, the story still manages to feel believable. Even as I noted things in my head that would never fly in real life, I still found myself going with it and staying locked in the author’s world. It takes talent for a writer to create a world that compelling, and I enjoyed spending time there.
In addition to a good mystery, Alex and Nathan’s relationship kept me reading. They have good chemistry, and I wanted to see them get to that happily ever after – even if they’re not initially convinced that an HEA is where they’re headed. Alex still has some maturing to do and I kept wondering why Nathan kept going back to her after she turned cold towards him for the umpteenth time, but despite her actions, Alex’s character interested me and I wanted to understand her. More importantly, I wanted to see her wake up and realize that she’d found a relationship worth keeping. Alex has had other men in her life and we get to meet at least one of them, a character who is both intriguing in his own right as well as helping to demonstrate why Nathan is so right for Alex. The contrast between Alex’s noncommittal ladies’ man of an ex and the devoted Nathan who would slay dragons for her is very compelling.
My main issue with this book had to do with the loose ends. While I realize that this book is a series focused around an investigative group introduced in this story, the mystery solved in this book still left a few too many unanswered questions. However, when we get to see the bad guy unmasked, some of the hows and whys of his actions get glossed over a bit. In addition, when Alex and Nathan talk about their lives and we ostensibly learn what brought Alex to Austin, she glosses over her past somewhat. I felt like I never really got to know her motivations and found that distance a little jarring.
While not perfect, I found Untraceable to be a fun and attention-grabbing read. The premise caught my eye, and I’ll definitely be back for more when the sequel comes out.