REVIEW: Judas Kiss by J.T. Ellison
Dear Ms. Ellison:
/>I’ve read the first in the series and while I liked it, for some reason I didn’t pick up the second or the third. I was able to plunge back into the life of Nashville Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson without many bumps with one small exception I’ll talk about below.
Taylor and her boyfriend/fiance FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin are post aborted wedding and post new home purchase and are settling into a routine. The house is falling down around their ears and Baldwin is being called to Quantico to act as acting Director of some subdivision since his boss had a heartattack and Taylor has a gruesome new homicide to investigate.
A young, pretty housewife was beaten severely in her home and her poor baby girl was in the house with her, alive, but probably traumatized. These opening scenes were so poignant and really showed the strength of your writing. I connected immediately. Some readers might find these descriptions too gruesome (I do wonder if gruesome crime scenes are the sex scene of the suspense/thriller genre) but I thought that they were the right touch to setting the emotional tone of the story. The victim wasn’t really the mother, but the family members.
The suspense aspect of the story was also good. Taylor has personal safety issues including an ongoing case with a copy cat serial killer who has not yet been apprehended. Her career is being threatened through the jealousy of the OOPMA (Office of Professional Accountability) who would like to see Taylor taken down a notch or five.
While the story moved along, there was a heavy reliance on coincidences to draw the story to a close. Some of the emotional drama relating to Taylor was based on imagining the very worst things that could happen to a person and throwing them all at her which isn’t as subtle and nuanced as I thought that homicide scene was written.
There is also a tendency to include details that have no bearing on the suspense or character growth of Taylor such as noticing a prostitute on the street or the details spent on Taylor’s house. These might have bearing on the overall series but they had little to nothing to do on the story at hand. I find that an irritant because in a suspense, you look at these details for clues to who the perpetrator might be and instead it just seems like filler.
Baldwin is an underdeveloped character as well. Despite several scenes from his point of view, he has no flavor. Perhaps I lack context for him but I find him and his scenes to be particularly bland.
While there is a romance between Taylor and Baldwin, it’s not a major focal point of the story. I wouldn’t recommend this as a romantic suspense but rather a suspense with a romance thread. Don’t read it with expectations of there being a lot of relationship conflict. The story relies heavily on external events to move the plot along.
A reader won’t be bored with this suspense and if the convenient endings aren’t an irritant then this will be a good read. B-