Touch of Red
by Laura Griffin
Book 12 of Tracers
This is a Laura Griffin Tracers novel, so it is dark and gritty and real where you need it to be. The premise was typical of most crime thrillers, and I'm always in love with how crime scene investigation and forensic science is incorporated.
Unfortunately, I'm not much enamored with TSTL characters. I can't say that I've come across too many of them in the Tracers installments previously, but I also can't say that they didn't exist.
In Touch of Red, she certainly did exist.
At the scene of a gruesome murder, Brooke Porter discovers evidence that a witness might have escaped after the fact. What ends up being more surprising is who this witness may be, and the fact that said witness is probably in a lot of danger. Without hesitation, Brooke is determined to find this witness and keep him safe.
Detective Sean Byrne is in charge of this homicide case, and realizes that he may have to keep an eye on Brooke when the Delphi Center trace evidence expert decides to play at being detective. While he's more than happy to get a chance to spend more time with Brooke, it doesn't escape his notice that the murder has become just as sinister as the carnage at the crime scene suggests.
There's very little to say about this book without getting into a rant.
Don't get me wrong--I really enjoyed Touch of Red, much as I've enjoyed all the Tracers novels. It's intriguing, it's fast-paced, and it involves one of my favorite subjects. I also love how Laura Griffin incorporates more than just the current criminal case, showing us a scene where Brooke has caught up with two days worth of work, just analyzing fingerprints from different cases on her workload. She's not just narrowly focused on the "case of the week," but because crime labs have more than one case going at a time, they've got backlog, and they've got piles of work yet to be finished.
So I love how the focus of the "case of the week" is balanced enough to be realistic.
The romance was sweet, and probably could have been better if I had liked Brooke a bit more. In fact, I absolutely loved her character from the previous book, and was set to enjoy her from the beginning of this book. But at some point, she became so narrow-sighted and focused on "her witness" that she seemed to be teetering on reckless obsession. I get that she was worried for the safety of the witness she discovered; I get that she felt it might have been her fault for bringing this particular person to the killer's attention.
What I don't get is how a level-headed trace evidence expert, who is supposed to also understand how the law works, as a medico-legal specialist, throws all of her common sense out the window for the last half of the book. She also ended up kind of irrationally screechy... Okay, well, she didn't really screech or anything, but she might as well have been. Because she just started making all sorts of general, blanket assumptions that made it seem like she was the only one concerned about the witness's safety and finding the killer and blah, blah, blah...
She was basically telling all of her colleagues that they weren't doing their job.
It got a bit old. Especially when she started imagining slights from Sean based on her own history with men. I don't really think it was fair to him.
On the bright side, we have a not-broody alpha male this time around, who didn't feel the need to tell the heroine what to do all the time. I'm not saying that he didn't try once or twice, but when he realized it was not the way to Brooke Porter's heart, he let it go, even if grudgingly. And he never really went as far as caveman-styling his way into her life.
Anyway, the book was enjoyable on a certain level, and we do get to see more of some past characters as well as an introductory to what seems like the next couple in the Tracers installment--once again, somehow managing to seamlessly being part of this book without sticking out awkwardly. And I approve.