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Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense

REVIEW: What Sarah Saw by Margaret Daley

REVIEW: What Sarah Saw by Margaret Daley

Dear Ms. Daley,

what-sarah-sawModern methods of crime solving fascinate me. I admit I’m a real life CSI junkie and can watch a whopping amount of cable shows which explain how law enforcement officials crack a case. The description of this book

The only witness when a single mother mysteriously vanishes? Her three-year-old daughter. FBI agent Sam Pierce needs to question little Sarah. Yet child psychologist Jocelyn Gold will barely let him near the girl. Or herself. The tragic conclusion to a kidnapping case broke Sam and Jocelyn apart years before, and their hearts still haven’t healed. But for the child’s sake-’and her mother’s-’they must join forces to uncover just what Sarah saw.

caught my attention. A child psychologist who gets to solve a case with the clock ticking? Bring it!

I am fascinated by the whole idea of working with children to open up their memories about things they’ve seen, especially when it might solve crimes. The scenes in which Jocelyn works with Sarah and the other children to solve this crime held my attention while not raising any red flags of WTFery.

But I wanted to know how Jocelyn could be angry with herself for not helping quickly solve the earlier case on which she worked with Sam yet still willing to not push Sarah, even a little bit, to get the information the authorities suspect Sarah has. Jocelyn is constantly ripping herself for not saving the earlier child but then snaps at Sam that she can’t rush Sarah even though it’s Jocelyn’s BFF whose life might be at stake. As the days tick by, I couldn’t help but think, “time’s a wasting here.”

Sam angsts too much and I question whether or not the FBI would let him work in a unit that specializes in what he angsts about. Perhaps I’m wrong but an agent still torn up over what happened to him would not seem a stable person to work with the exact type of crimes that still haunt him.

Sam wants Jocelyn, Sam pushes her away. Sam diverts her attention from his background by giving into kissing her then he pushes her away. Meanwhile, Jocelyn wants Sam but despairs that he will ever open up to her. So, she lets him kiss her and invites him over for coffee many times as well as cooking homemade meals for him. Be firm Jocelyn so he knows how you feel. /sarcasm

Jocelyn has her own load of guilt and is quite ready to blame herself for a lot of things. For cases that went bad, for not getting children to open up to her and tell what they know, for her friend Leah’s disappearance. Jocelyn is to blame for it all. So she thinks. Can a therapist carry this weight on her shoulders and still do her job? Did she get no counseling or teaching in how to deal with the inevitable failures that will occur in her profession?

Sam puts a lot of pressure on and asks a lot of Jocelyn. Not only her work with Sarah and the other children involved in that case but also watching almost all his interviews with the locals and watching surveillance tapes as well. Is there anything he thinks she can’t do?

The Lord works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform so I guess He can use an alligator to get His people together if He wants. We are talking about Louisiana swamp country.

Jocelyn has slowly, like pulling teeth, gotten one of her child clients to start to tell her about his grief over his mother’s death. But it’s been weeks and they’re still no closer to getting a breakthrough. But in one miraculous afternoon, with the help of the above gator (who really ought to get secondary starring role status) and Jocelyn spilling her guts about her own mother’s death and her feelings about it, – THUNDERCLAP! – we have a solution.

Then, in the same afternoon, Sam finally also tells Jocelyn everything he’s ever ducked and dodged her questions about AND asks her to marry him – and make it soon please. Sigh, no I don’t believe in it. The man is too tightly wound about this and if anyone knows they should move carefully, I would think it would be Jocelyn.

So here we have me frustrated that the mystery is going to continue for a good long time yet amazed at the breakneck speed with which two issues are resolved in one day. Go gator.

And then Sam is willing to be interrupted while processing a crime scene to search for Jocelyn’s child client? Really? I mean, a missing child is always important but this is a crime that might help solve the other suspected/known murders and missing person cases. And he’ll just drop it? Can’t the town deputies and chief of police not pitch in here?

I knew this was part of a series, but didn’t realize that the books wouldn’t be stand alone but rather a part of a long 6 book story arc. I would have liked to have had at least one of the many crimes that have occurred actually be solved in this book. Instead, I got zip. I plan on reading more books in this series but I hope the payoff for each book is more than I got with this one. C

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

REVIEW: Suspicion by Ginny Aiken

REVIEW: Suspicion by Ginny Aiken

Dear Ms. Aiken,

037344319601lzzzzzzzSteeple Hill’s suspense line appears to be utilizing medical personnel who rarely get a chance in the spotlight. In a world filled with romance doctors and nurses, let’s hear it for the pharmacists (chemists to you British).

Stephanie Scott has worked hard to get where she is in life. Her ADD wasn’t diagnosed until she got to college (UNC- Chapel Hill. Yeah, Go Heels!). By structuring her life into a series of routines, she made it through pharmacy school then returned to her small, western North Carolina community to open her own retail pharmacy. Over five years, she’s built a thriving store, gained the trust of the community for her hard work and attention to detail and feels good about what she’s been able to give back in the form of her knowledge of drugs.

When she’s attacked one night as she closes up shop, Steph is horrified. But she still manages to keep the mugger from getting the store key. She can’t let the person get the potent narcotics or the materials needed to manufacture methamphetamine. A witness runs to her aid but since the attack was in a dark alley, there’s little that was seen and no evidence left.

Sheriff Hal Bensen hears the Loganton PD responding to the 911 call from the pharmacy. Though it’s stretching his jurisdiction for him to insert himself into the investigation, he does so anyway. He’s secretly had a crush on Steph since their grade school days and can’t make himself not help her. Especially when further things begin to happen and the police look as if they’re starting to suspect Steph might be involved in the break-ins and drug thefts. But with a hotly contested upcoming election for the county sheriff position, Hal’s got his hands full.

The whole situation is a nightmare for Steph. She doesn’t feel safe anywhere, the townspeople are eyeing her strangely and she’s losing money her overhead can’t afford. Plus there’s something, just beyond what she can remember, about the first attack that she feels would solve the mystery and get her life back on track. Can she prove to everyone that she isn’t selling to drug dealers? And is there a future for her with Hal?

I can certainly understand Steph’s desire to clear her name and get her pharmacy store back to normal. Owning your own business is hard enough without all the extra regulations and laws concerning drugs to deal with. She’s started a store from scratch and no one’s going to take that away from her.

In addition, Steph is furious that the mugger’s actions have taken away her feelings of security. Now she hesitates to be alone in her own house, listens for footsteps behind her and doubts the routines with which she controls her ADD.

It’s sad to watch human nature take over as the people of Loganton, who’ve trusted her and depended on her as their only pharmacist for five years, begin to suspect her. That Steph doesn’t lash out is, I think, a testament to her desire to help others and her Christian faith.

Loganton is portrayed as a nice little Southern mountain town. Thank you for not making it seem like everyone marries their first cousins, doesn’t have dental care or dresses like the late Minnie Pearl. Yet as a small town, gossip will spread quickly and everyone knows everyone and their business.

I was surprised that Hal continued to nose his way into the investigation even after it started getting around that he was romantically interested in Steph. Several people made comments about how she might be trying to use him to deflect suspicion from herself plus he needs to keep his reputation clean if he wants to be reelected as sheriff. I guess the fact that he won’t let the police officers do their job without his “help” speaks to the depth of his feelings for Steph and his desire for justice but he ought to know that law officers should recuse themselves from cases in which they’re involved.

I liked the gentle pace of Hal and Steph’s courtship. It wasn’t rushed, there was no inappropriately timed intimacy and I could believe these two were ready for their HEA. I would like to have learned more about how Hal ended up as a county sheriff after graduating from Princeton though.

The book was going well, I liked the characters, the plot was realistic so…why a C+, you ask? Well, something happens in the end that did a number on the grade. The dénouement had me gobsmacked with disbelief. Steph is a pharmacist. I know she would know that people who rob pharmacies are either 1) determined to get the drugs or 2) high on drugs or 3) both. That she would put herself into a dangerous situation after specifically being told not to by law enforcement is stupid.

No wait, it’s beyond stupid. Sure, she might prove that she wasn’t involved with the drug thefts but she might also end up dead. Dead is dead. Her grieving parents, friends and family could carve on her tombstone, “She was a good pharmacist” but she’d still be d-e-a-d. A neighbor of mine heard a story when she was a young pharmacist. A pharmacist was closing his store when two robbers came up behind him and forced him back inside. They took the cash and the narcotics. Then they dragged him outside and forced him down to the pavement. Feeling the muzzle of the gun against his skull, he listened to them debate whether or not they were going to blow his head off. After hearing this story – which, BTW made a tremendous impact on my friend – I can’t help but think Steph needs her head examined.

I guess other readers who don’t know pharmacists might applaud Steph for standing up to the danger that threatens her store. And up to a point, I do too. But for me, the good things about this book were marred too much by the TSTL actions Steph displays. Shame, really. C+

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.