Sunday, May 12, 2013

"The Girl Who Disappeared Twice" by Andrea Kane

Casey Woods runs her own private crime-solving team known as Forensic Instincts. Also on the team is Marc Devereaux, who is both a former FBI behavioural analyst (profiler) and a former Navy SEAL. The third member is Ryan McKay, the tech expert who is also a buff gym junkie. They are contacted by Family Court Judge Hope Willis, whose young daughter Krissy has been kidnapped. Hope wants them on the case because they can apparently cut all the corners that the local police and FBI cannot. However, this doesn't stop a majority of the novel from focusing on the bickering between the various teams over who does what.

As it happens, Hope's twin sister was kidnapped thirty-two years ago and was never recovered. Even more mysteriously, evidence points to Krissy getting into a car just like her mother's car, with a woman who looks just like her mother. Could the two cases be connected? You think? Rather than focusing on the blindingly obvious, the team are sidetracked by babysitter Ashley's affair with Hope's husband, Hope's father's ties to the mob, Hope's resentful ex-bench clerk and the various people who might be angry at Hope based on how she ruled in their case. Everybody must put aside their differences in a race against time to locate Krissy.

From the looks of things, Andrea Kane is a romance writer trying her hand at crime fiction without the romance angle. While I appreciate any author willing to jump out of their comfort zone and try something new, it's hard to get excited when the result is as flat, predictable and boring as this. Are we seriously supposed to be surprised by the identity of the kidnapper? Am I missing something? Was I supposed to be so caught up in the jurisdictional bickering between teams that I never managed to find the time to put two and two together? Because the majority of the novel seems to involve arguments or discussions between Forensic Instincts, the police and the FBI over who goes where and who questions who and so forth. I have no idea if the situation of having so many teams on the same case is portrayed accurately, but it hardly mattered, as it was so freaking dull and repetitive.

This extends to the relationship between Casey and Hutch, one of the FBI profilers. They get snotty with one another whenever they clash over jurisdictional issues. Unfortunately, their characters are so flat it's hard to get involved in their relationship plight to begin with. You'd think a romance writer would have a better handle on creating a believable relationship. However, the flat characterisation extends to pretty much everybody, with the possible exclusion of Hope Willis, who at least comes across as appropriately frazzled but plucky. I often had trouble telling Marc and Ryan apart. They were both hunks and brilliant at their respective skills, and that's about as much as I learnt about them. The other major problem is that we're always told rather than shown. We're frequently told how brilliant Casey, Marc and Ryan are, but it's rarely put into play. An extended sequence where they want to plant surveillance footage in a building (I won't say what kind in case of spoilers) fizzles out because breaking in proves to be really easy because "it's not Fort Knox".

As a minor quibble, the inclusion of psychic Claire just did not work for me. I'm bringing my own personal prejudices to the table, however, as I personally believe psychics are frauds. But there are so many other problems here that it ultimately doesn't matter much. The Girl Who Disappeared Twice is dull and predictable and will likely disappear from memory as soon as you've finished it.

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