Deadlock – DiAnn Mills – FBI: Houston #3 – Tyndale House Publishers – Published 1 October 2015
Two murders have rocked the city of Houston. Are they the work of a serial killer, or is a copycat trying to get away with murder?
That is the question facing Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who is eager for her new assignment in violent crimes but anxious about meeting her new partner. Special Agent Thatcher Graves once arrested her brother, and he has a reputation for being a maverick. Plus, their investigative styles couldn’t be more opposite: he operates on instinct, while she goes by the book.
When hot leads soon fizzle out, their differences threaten to leave them deadlocked. But an attempt on their lives turns up the heat and brings them closer together, and a third victim might yield the clue that will help them zero in on a killer. This could be the case of their careers . . . if they can survive long enough to solve it.
As with the other FBI Houston books Deadlock jumps straight into the crime-fighting action. It read like a great crime TV show, high on dialog, short sharp sentences and minimal other details, with touches of romance and faith.
It’s the first day on the job for Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who has transferred from civil rights division to violent crimes. Eager to start, yet anxious about working with her new partner Special Agent Thatcher Graves, Bethany is plunged straight into the middle of a serial killer case. Things get complicated when Bethany isn’t sure the second murder really is the work of the serial killer, while Thatcher is adamant his gut is correct in assuring him the murders are the work of the same person. Add family drama and growing feelings between Bethany and Thatcher and the case is soon heating up.
Bethany and Thatcher butt heads from the start. Bethany is determined to prove herself, but can’t seem to stop making mistakes. Thatcher is just as eager to prove he isn’t the man Bethany has heard about from office rumours. But the murders aren’t stopping and with little to go on, Bethany and Thatcher’s lives, and careers, are in danger.
The focus of Deadlock is on solving the crime, rather than action, but there are still plenty of intense moments, and suspense. I have to admit that while the writing style is good for keeping a fast pace I would have liked a few more details and descriptions at the start to really become immersed in the story. At times, with the very limited descriptions and continuous back and forth dialog, I got a little lost with who was saying what. I also couldn’t tell if they were serious, joking, angry or otherwise. I think Bethany and Thatcher weren’t getting along at the start, but whether this involved humour or intense dislike, I couldn’t tell you. At times the book felt a little like a TV show’s screenplay, without the setting, actors or director filling in the blanks for the audience. Kind of like when you receive an email and you can’t quite decipher the sender’s tone and you wished they had thrown in some emoticons for reference. But as the story progresses, I became more engaged in the story, and Bethany and Thatcher become more ‘fleshed out’ as characters and more relatable.
Faith played a small role in this book. Bethany is a Christian and Thatcher is a brand-new Christian of three weeks. Both consider their faith throughout the unfolding storyline, but it didn’t play a large role like I thought it might. Thatcher is rumoured to have changed from his previous ways although this is not discussed in great detail, nor is how he is coping with these changes.
The romance is sweet and plays a nice backstory to the crime-solving focus. Bethany and Thatcher’s relationship progresses pretty quickly, considering the timeline of the story, but most of it is them considering their growing feelings and their determination not to get sidetracked from finding the killer. Again, more details about why they were falling for each other would have made this more believable. A lot of the romance and characterisation of Bethany and Thatcher was told rather than shown.
While I didn’t enjoy this book like I have the previous two in the series, it was a solid crime-fighting story with plenty of suspects, twists and suspense. Deadlock can be read as a standalone, as can books one and two in the FBI: Houston series.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Christian suspense.
Themes: Romance. Crime. Serial killers. FBI. Family.
Published: 1 October 2015 by Tyndale House Publishers
Format: Paperback, ebook.