The first time I read a ‘Tracers’ novel, I was hooked.
This novel feels like an old-fashioned police procedural, but with a little sexy time mixed in.
Set in Austin, TX, Laney works at the Delphi center as a ‘hacker’…. The good kind.
She surfs the ‘Darknet” trolling for pedophiles and other types of cybercrimes.
The victim of a home invasion attack herself, Delaney was lucky to escape with her life, but that event fuels her drive to ensnare predators.
When a young woman is found murdered and the MO bears an uncanny similarity to her own attack, Laney takes a special interest in the case.
She soon discovers a dating service she once did security for, called 'Mix", could be the backdoor hole the killer used to stalk his victims, so she informs the detective in charge of the case, Reed Novak, of her suspicions.
Reed Novak doesn’t miss much, so he knows the young cybercrime ace, Laney, is feeding him a nominal amount of information, remaining evasive about the extent of her knowledge concerning his case.
To make matters worse, he feels drawn to her despite their age gap.
As the case progresses, it becomes clear, they are dealing with a serial killer, and Laney could be a crucial witness.
Can she and Reed stop the killer in his tracks and escape with their lives?
Will their relationship end once the case is solved, or will it simply remain casual, or is there something deeper between them?
For me, this story stumbled out the gate instead of charging. It was at least a quarter of the way into the book before I began to settle into it.
The ‘romance’ is as flat as a board, and the chemistry is non-existent. The dialogue between Laney and Reed is mostly about the case, with the only conflict being about Laney's involvement in the case and her evasiveness. So basically they are just hooking up. There is no emotional connection between them, and for me, that’s kind of a deal breaker, but in all fairness, the emotional connection did improve marginally as the story came to a close.
On the flip side, the murder case is very compelling, evenly paced, piecing the puzzle together a little at a time, throwing in a few red herrings, slowly allowing the suspense level and tension to increase, and once the facts started clicking into place, I got a chill down my spine!
The twists came with rapid fire succession, making the final showdown riveting.
This mystery is dark, reminding us that one can’t be too careful with handing out personal information. Hackers are frothing at the mouth to snatch information, just for the fun of it, and security is not one size fits all. So, the plot was certainly unnerving, and could keep you up at night, worrying if someone could be tapping into your most sensitive and vulnerable secrets, or maybe it’s just a question of when.
At times Romantic Suspense novels have a hard time finding that perfect balance. Sometimes the romance takes over, and the mystery is left flapping in the wind, or the mystery is so compelling the romance feels forced. In this case it was the latter.
So, the mystery is the saving grace for this novel, which makes it worth reading, no matter what.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, and recommend it for romantic suspense lovers, but also to those enjoy a good old fashioned serial killer type thriller.
The moment detective Reed Novak steps onto the crime scene, he knows the case is going to rock his world. A beautiful young woman murdered at home. No sign of forced entry. No motive. She’s obviously not the killer’s first victim, and Reed’s instincts tell him she won’t be his last. Reed’s first clue comes via a mysterious text that links to a dating profile, but even more intriguing than the clue is the person who sent it.
As a white-hat hacker in the Delphi Center’s cyber investigation unit, Laney Knox sneaks into some of the deepest, darkest corners of the Internet looking for predators. Laney would prefer to stay away from Austin PD’s most recent murder case, but she can’t ignore the chilling similarities between that crime and her own brutal attack years ago. Laney offers to help the sexy lead detective, but he wants more from her than just a promising tip—Reed wants her trust. Laney resists, but as their relationship deepens she’s tempted to reveal the closely guarded secrets that could make her a key witness…or the killer’s next victim.