Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Introducing ‘Forensic Instincts’

I discovered the ‘Forensic Instincts’ series when I found the third book in the series, which I have, but have yet to read, at the library. It was random and one of those happy accidents. The book was about a serial killer going after redheads (I wonder why that caught my attention 😛 ) and when I realized it was a series, me being me, had to start with book one. Here it is. 🙂

“The Girl Who Disappeared Twice”
by Andrea Kane (May 31, 2011) three_star_half.fw

kane_disappeartwicecover

Casey Woods founded Forensic Instincts, a crime-solving organization with an impeccable record, for very personal reasons; reasons as personal as the ones belonging to the two people who joined her group. Forensic Instincts comprised of a behaviorist, a techno wizard and a former Navy SEAL, will do whatever it takes. Judge Hope Willis has determined the fates of families for years, but falls apart when her own daughter, Krissy, is kidnapped. Hope Willis hires Forensic Instincts in hopes they will find her daughter since they are not bound by the legal system. Within minutes of meeting them, Casey picks up on a nervous spouse, a guilty conscience and a nanny who hides on her phone, and that is before secrets begin to creep into the open. Time is running out and everyone knows that the difference of getting Krissy back and having her disappear forever could be as small as a suspect’s rapid breathing or as deep as Hope’s dark family history.

First, just let me say that this story was terrific. Hope is a judge, her husband is a sleazy defense attorney and it turns out Hope’s absentee father had ties to the mob at one point. Talk about a long list of suspects! It becomes clear early on that this was not your average abduction (which sounds wrong, but hopefully you know what I mean). At many points it is clear that Krissy is being kept alive and yet even though Hope is loaded (a quarter of a million dollars is not a problem, without going to the bank!) ransom is not what the kidnappers are after. What makes this all the more tragic is that 32 years ago, Hope’s identical twin was kidnapped and never recovered. The similarities of the two crimes beyond the family are eerie. I figured out who the kidnapper was about halfway through, but I don’t know if most people would (you’ll have to let me know). Even once I had figured it out though, it didn’t take away from the reading experience because the ride was full of bumps and twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. The pace is flawless and fast without any lulls.

This book left me conflicted, however, because of the writing itself. Kane has a few bad writing habits that got underneath my skin and left me utterly perplexed. The first was the cliché ‘white on rice’. She uses it too much. The first time was hard to swallow (because of how it was used) but she uses it in both exposition and dialogue and for a woman who obviously knows how to tell a story I couldn’t figure out why. The second thing was her need to keep reminding the reader that the agents of Forensic Instincts are the best. She does this through exposition and dialogue as well, but I mean whenever someone interacts with someone else on the team, they say how wonderful each other is and how their skills are unsurpassed. People would not do this in real life. I mean in every conversation, in situations where it just seems random and bizarre… I almost felt like Kane was trying to convince herself of this rather than the reader. The final thing, involves the writing rule “Show Don’t Tell”. Writers strive to show in their writing and are meant to avoid telling (if you are a writer you know what I am talking about). Kane did a wonderful job showing, and then she turned right around and told the reader anyway. I have clients who do this in the manuscripts they send for me to edit, and I believe it stems from a lack of confidence. It is almost as if they aren’t sure if their writing is showing ‘the right way’ or ‘enough’ so they want to tell us too, just in case. The rule is “Show Don’t Tell”, not “Show And Tell”.

The story did make up for these things, but these writing boo-boos stayed with me. Kane is not new to the world of publishing, so I remain perplexed, but am looking forward to the second book in the ‘Forensic Instincts’ series and hope that these bad habits do not follow Forensic Instincts on their next case.


Side note, for any ‘Criminal Minds’ fans, I think Kane has a crush on Agent Hotchner from the show. Everyone calls him Hotch on the show and there was a Supervisory Special Agent named Hutch in this book who was very similar to the character on TV in other somewhat obvious ways, just like their names. He was the man in Casey Wood’s life, so anyway…

This is a true ‘first book’ in the sense that it involves the forming of Forensic Instincts. Forensic Instincts already existed and had had cases and a great track record before this book, but the team of three became of a team of six by the end of the book, and it is these six individuals who round out the organization and really do make it the best. They are the Forensic Instincts line-up of the next two books – check them out!

-DMW

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