Sunday, April 24, 2016

Review: Thread of Fear

Thread of Fear

by Laura Griffin
Book 1 of The Glass Sisters duology

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.5 Stars

**Side note:  This review has been edited and rewritten.  To see original review, click on link at bottom of post.
**Second note:  The Glass Sisters is a duology series that leads into Laura Griffin's currently ongoing Tracers series.

Forensic artist Fiona Glass is the best in the business -- which is precisely why she's quitting. Her skill at mining victims' memories to re-create the faces of sadistic criminals has left her haunted and wary, and only Jack Bowman's dogged persistence convinces her to help him. The rugged police chief is hunting a serial killer who's targeting teenage girls. But what seems like a simple assignment is fraught with complications, including a searing attraction to Jack that's tempting Fiona to let her guard down in potentially dangerous ways.

Jack never intended for Fiona to become so deeply involved in the case -- or in his life. But every instinct tells him she's his best hope for finding a psychopath who's lurking in plain sight, growing more ruthless with each passing day. And now that Fiona is right in the killer's crosshairs, the only way to keep her safe is to unravel a small town's darkest secrets, one terrifying thread at a time....

During the reading of this book, I took notes, and so I've got notes and more notes and some random thoughts.  But just as it is with all the rest of my reviews, the majority of those notes get thrown out and I just end up rambling.  Mostly these notes were just about things I felt like nit-picking--not so much about the story itself, but more so about the characters and how they interacted with each other and how they treated each other.

A lot of these negative feelings are for our main hero, Jack.  Upfront, I just want to say that I did not like him.

I hadn't planned on really reviewing this book outside of a short paragraph about how most romantic suspense novels seem to be pretty formulaic... but ramblings happen, so here we are.

On the other hand, at least there was enough anticipation and suspense to keep me hooked until the conclusion.  None of the book felt tedious--this is always a good thing.

I've got a lot of quibbles with this story altogether.

Rating wise, I am definitely leaning towards a 2.5 Star rating--it was a mediocre and sometimes frustrating read altogether.  I liked Fiona enough, but a lot of things about her personality bugged me--she gets half a star.  I got caught up in the overall premise and story line, so there's about a one star there.  The pacing was good... a few other things here and there about the entire book in general gets a whole star by itself.

And so, tallied up: 2.5 Stars.

The low rating really DID have a lot to do with our hero, Jack, because I just could not stand him.  Normally I like a lot of the main male characters in romantic suspenses.

But Jack... Just.  No.

The good parts of the book I've already mentioned.  But here they are again.

The story started off rather slow, but as the case progressed, I got into it and couldn't put it down for good reasons. I didn't have any "I can't wait until this book is over" moments, which is always a good thing. The murder mystery had a lot of promise, basing off of an eleven year old crime and trying to connect it with some present day crimes, and some unknown missing persons cases.

And I also liked the Forensic Artist angle as well. We've seen all aspects of the investigations surrounding detectives and agents, but I like seeing other aspects of the forensic scene become involved just the same (i.e. medical examiners, forensic scientists, crime scene investigators, criminal profilers... the like). And I KNOW that the investigative process usually doesn't include the other branches following leads, doing their own investigations, and interviewing witnesses. But I also realize that these are works of fiction, and the suspense is in the fact that our other branches like to overstep their bounds a little bit, thus effectively putting themselves into danger (a la suspense crime novels).

I'll buy it because it makes for some decent crime thrillers.

And now, my quibbles about the story...

There were loose ends--lots of loose ends.  Side story tangents that had been brought up randomly ended up being lost in the shuffle of a quick ending.  And there was a lot of interweaving of story lines that didn't seem to have anything to do with one another.

I will admit, I enjoyed the Shelby kidnapping case, but it could have been a whole other book on it's own since it had little to do with the main crime that was being investigated.

Then there's Courtney's side anecdote involving Nathan and stuff ensuing... I'm not sure where we were going with that, but if it was supposed to tie into some later parts of the series or other books... well, I'm still confused.

The side characters (even the main culprit) were all bland. Courtney had an explosive personality, which was fine as Fiona's little sister. But we also hint at some sort of mysterious, traumatic past that happened during their childhood... and then it just disappears. Will it show up in the next book? Or are we done with flashbacks?

Nathan is obviously going to be a main character in a later book.  I wouldn't even have to go read the summary blurb for Untraceable to determine as much.  Sometimes, some authors make it a little too obvious that they're setting up background for future main characters in later books.

Fiona was a slipper/doormat/swaying blade of grass combination. I wanted her to be stronger and pursue what SHE wanted for herself. It irked me that she allowed other people to influence what SHE wanted to do with her life. If you want to be a painter full time, go be a painter full time. If you can't let go of the Forensic Artist job, then don't look so pained to have to take a new case every time. I couldn't really tell if she finally ended up in the place where she's finally happiest. Or maybe that was the point of the story. I don't know. Because her constant giving in to taking new cases made me feel bad for her, thinking that maybe she was just someone who had a hard time letting others down so didn't know how to say "no" to them.

In the end, I wasn't sure what to make of her, especially when it came to her personal life and it seemed like she really, really just made it a point to let people walk all over her.

Courtney pushed herself into Fiona's life and left messes left and right. I'm all for sisterly love and all, but it's not really healthy for the elder sister to let her younger sister just traipse around getting into trouble all the time without saying anything. This made Fiona meek and a bit of a pushover.

And then she goes and let's Jack Bowman into her life so that he can manipulate and manhandle her whenever he feels like it. He lies to her, keeps her at a distance, comes on to her whenever he feels like it, lies to her, leaves her hanging, treats her like an outsider, lies to her, and he makes it perfectly clear that he's really just interested in sex. Oh, and did I mention that he lies to her? A lot?

Which brings me to Jack. Oh... Jack. I decided that he is a Grade A Jack-Ass.

He's pushy. I give him props for being a good investigator and being persistent. Sometimes you have to be persistent. And if he'd just had that trait going for him, then it would have been fine. But Jack goes beyond persistent and just becomes forcefully pushy... and manipulative. Okay, so I'm fine with him being a bit persistent and manipulative to get what he wants. People do it all the time.  And it wasn't like these two really owed each other anything in the beginning.

But then he starts to apply his double standards everywhere.

He needs Fiona to help him with his case so that he can get his big break. This is a cold case and he needs all the help he can get. He misleads Fiona into interviewing a woman who had been victimized eleven years ago; while angry at first, Fiona agrees, but lays down her disclaimer: eleven years ago is already too long ago and we may not find anything useful, these conditions aren't ideal. He wants her to try and sketch the possible suspect anyway.

And then the results come out exactly like she'd predicted... so now Jack is disappointed with her. Really?

But that's okay, because he's sexually attracted to her, so let's keep her around for a little longer anyway so he can get his sexual frustration taken care of. And, you know, it's all about sex anyway, because he doesn't really mention anything about her personality or the like... he just keeps looking at her boobs and her butt. That's fine too. Sexual attraction is totally legit.

But now that he's gotten to know her, suddenly he knows what's best for her? He's not happy that she's trying to help him some more? Following leads? Interviewing another witness and sketching another possible suspect? No. He wants her to stay out of the case; this isn't a field for her and she should just go back to her paintings and her art galleries.

Excuse me?

First, you drag her into your case when she's adamant about staying out of the law enforcement scene. Then you make her uncomfortable by trying to sleep with her.  Let's not even get into the usual courting ritual in these books, because I'm resigned to them anyway.  It's just the typical: "We're attracted to each other, so let's have sex."  "But I don't just sleep with anyone without a commitment."  "Well, I'm just in it for sex, let's do it anyway."  "But I want a real relationship, not just sex."  "That's fine, let's have sex anyway."

It's a typical dance.  And there's nothing doing about it, really, so...

He then decides that maybe he's "da man" after all and so he decides to keep "his woman" away from the dangers of law enforcement.  Where the heck does he come off making those decisions for her in the first place anyway?

Excuse me while I continue yelling at Jack:

You're just the guy who wants to sleep with her because you love that she's got a luscious ass and big boobs. You have no say over her life, so even if she wants to put her life in peril by following up on a few leads that might help your cold case investigation, because you couldn't think about those leads, you have no right to tell her to stay put.  She does not belong to you.  She's not your girlfriend.  All you wanted was sex anyway, without relationship strings.

You have no right to tell her how to run her life and what road to take in her career.

Granted, Fiona is at a crossroads anyway and can't figure things out for herself.  But that doesn't mean that Jack gets to tell the lady to quit her job and do something a little less strenuous for her own good.  That is NOT his decision to make.  That is HER decision to make, because it is HER life!  Even IF he were her boyfriend or husband!

And then there's the lying! But I'll be frank. Maybe Fiona should have been a bit more forthcoming about how she feels about people lying to her. If she didn't like it, she should have told him upfront.  Since the beginning of the book, she has monologued about how she does not appreciate lying--lying comes too natural with police officers, she says, and that is why she would never be in a relationship with one.  Granted, that's a bit of a stereotyped line of thought, but geez, woman!  Stick to your guns!

He's not THAT good looking, is he?

And when he lied to her the first three times, maybe she should have just walked away. Instead, she lets him continue to lie to her, continue to omit information, and just lets him get away with it.

At first, I figured, you know, it's not a big deal. You guys are working on a professional level and the lying is just standard "this is a confidential case" type of deal. And about his personal life, it's really none of her business anyway. But then he started getting personal and the lying continued into their personal interests and THAT was where I just... well, I planked.




Now that my rant is finished... well, I guess as far as the subject matter went, I DID enjoy the book to an extent. If I didn't get all heated up, I probably wouldn't have much to talk about. Needless to say, I admired Fiona and her talent and skill. I admired her on and off independence. But I don't really admire her personal life much. And I just didn't like Jack.

I have plans to read the rest of the series, which, to be honest, I'm only reading because I'm interested in the Tracers series and these two books are prequel-like books that lead into Tracers. But this particular book left a lot of things open-ended that I hope get addressed in the next book... though I'm sure won't happen since it would be a bit out of place.

Hate me and my review, for I like happy endings and relationships that I can actually understand. And is it really too much to ask for a couple where the partners respect each other enough NOT to be Jack-Asses about it?

This review was originally posted at Goodreads in May 2013.

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