Sometimes it can be very easy to fall into the trap of only ever reading one set of familiar authors and, whilst this has the advantage of the reader almost always knowing what to expect, this can also be a bit of a disadvantage at times too. Sometimes ongoing series' can begin to get a bit samey (as kathy Reich's novels seem to have done recently) or an author can begin to lose interest in her characters and a series can go rapidly downhill (Patricia Cornwell anyone?). It is good then to sometimes experiment and reach outside the box for new authors, thus widening your reading experiences in a genre....of course, sometimes too this can lead you to falling flat on your face!
On a recent trip to my local Asda, I saw this book priced just £2 and thought I couldn't go wrong. Never having heard of the author before, I was intrigued (or suckered in one might say) by the cover bumpf that featured a recommendation by Tess Geritsen whom I discovered earlier this year. But beware Asda stores that come bearing cheap gifts as this experiment in reaching outside the box lead me into ever-so-slight disappointment!
Evelyn James works in the Trace Evidence department collecting fibres and trace evidence left behind on bodies. This is something a tad different from the usual Forensic Science or Medical Examiner characters we usually get to read about in multitude, so first points are awarded to the author for originality. More points are added for the scenes of crime which feature young females, their feet encased in concrete before being left to drown in various rivers across the city. Victim one is discovered by accident by some divers at a construction site. Then a second victim is discovered on a river bank after being killed trying to escape. As the second victim is the daughter of a high-level Goverment official in the city the man-hunt is stepped up a gear but as Evelyn gets more involved, she soon finds herself and her teenage daughter becoming put at potential risk. And then theres the brash Detective on the case who begins showing her some interest...can he keep his mind on the job long enough to solve the case or has he just got too much to prove..?
The main problem for me is that yes there are some neat ideas here and some originality but there is also too much seen-it-all-before too! The characters all feel a little two-dimensional and the whole story becomes a little bit too much day-time T.V detective drama rather than the tight, complex Forensic thriller it tries so hard to be. Evelyn James is less than overly charismatic and though this is her debut, it doesn't leave much of an impression. Gerritsen claims Becka "roars onto the forensic thriller scene with all guns blazing" but either Elizabeth Becka is firing blanks or someone has given her a one-shot flare gun. Did I like this? Actually in parts I did, but it's very flat, doesn't go anywhere paticulary fast and the killer is fairly predictable for anyone with more than half a brain cell. There is the usual attempt at pointing the finger elsewhere before the real killer is unmasked, but this is done in the most lazy and compromised way that it is difficult to see Becka ever becoming a serious playa or hard-hitter in her chosen genre. Becka has given evidence in over fifty crime trials and worked for the Forensics Science office in Cleveland, but all indications are that she probably should have stayed there as this has all the makings and trappings of a highly forgettable series!