Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book Review: Critical Pursuit by Janice Cantore


Critical Pursuit
Critical Pursuit by Janice Cantore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Two things exist in K-9 Officer Brinna Caruso's world: her scent-trained dog Hero and her hunt for child predators. Photos she's dubbed the Wall of Slime cover one section of her office, the faces of those child predators reminding her to be ever vigilant. Why? Because Brinna Caruso was once a six-year-old child, handcuffed to a post at an abandoned shack in the desert by a child molester, left to die. Except she was rescued, and even though Brinna's faith in God died that day, His compassion and use for her continues on in her calling as a police officer.

When a lawsuit crops up against her involving the death of a minor, Brinna is temporarily busted down to patrol. And her partner is none other than Jack O'Reilly, local basket-case who ended up "five fries short of a happy meal" when his pregnant wife died in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. She must leave Hero at home and work with a man she would really rather not, especially when her first good look at him reveals not just dead eyes, but empty, creepy eyes. Jack O'Reilly is a train wreck, made worse through his loss of faith in a God he once loved. Can these unwilling partners help one another not only heal, but also stop the sudden influx of missing little girls with a suspiciously similar MO as the way Brinna was abducted and restrained?

I judge my Christian thrillers according to two separate authors. If a writer falls somewhere in between Dee Henderson (pretty good) and Brandilyn Collins (the best there is), then they've succeeded. Janice Cantore's Critical Pursuit hits the mark to perfection, falling somewhere right in the middle. It's always hard reading a book where the main character not only struggles with God, but is outright bitter about Him. But I get it. I get sometimes why there is a struggle because it is very human to feel that He lets us down when something doesn't go our way. Brinna's bitterness doesn't make her unlikeable, just as Jack's raging against the Almighty rather makes me feel compassion than frustration. Non-Christians ask the question, "If God is so loving, how could He allow so much evil in the world?" It's a normal question that they ask, especially now in this era of doubt. And I feel that Janice Cantore covered that question very well, and even though not every emotion is wrapped up in a neat little package by the end of Critical Pursuit, I feel it will be by the end of the series.

One of the things I like most is how Ms. Cantore doesn't delve into the nasty details. I'm sure she saw her fair share of ugliness in her years as a cop, but her readers don't need all of that detail, and so she doesn't give it to us. It's hard and angering to read about pedophiles, but Ms. Cantore spares us too much informatino. And I for one, appreciate it! I don't really read much in the way of suspense anymore, but I couldn't put Critical Pursuit down, well, except to go to church. But my entire thought process for two days was finding time to finish her book because it is so fascinating with such realistic and relatable characters. I admit that I guessed what would happen next so the climax wasn't much of a surprise, but it still interested me because I was emotionally invested in the characters. I'm excited to see where she takes the series and the characters, and I hope I get to see more of Jack's old homicide partner, Ben Carney, who never stopped caring about Jack even when Jack stopped believing. The next book can't come soon enough for me!

Please note, I did receive a free advance copy of Critical Pursuit from Tyndale House Publishers in return for an honest and open review, which I have given. I also hope that the occasional misspellings of words/names and the repeating of the same conversation between Brinna and Tony in my Kindle edition is fixed before actual publication.



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