Monday, May 12, 2014

"Fatal Exchange" by Lisa Harris - intense suspense!

Fatal Exchange
It would be a good idea to read book one, Dangerous Passage, first before reading this one.  While the main plot of the first novel concludes by the end, the subplot of Michael Hunt's death continues throughout the series, and it will be significantly clearer if they are read in order.  And it will prevent spoilers (hint hint).

In the second book of her Southern Crimes series, Lisa Harris continues the investigation of the death of Michael Hunt.  While detective Avery North, the older sister, firmly believes Mason Taylor had something to do with his death, younger sister Emily Hunt, a school teacher, has trouble believing Michael's best friend would do such a thing.  When Mason comes to her with concern for one of her students, a young man whose brother was just abducted by a drug cartel, Emily promises to keep an eye out for him, never expecting him to walk in with a gun and hold the whole class hostage.  With Mason negotiating from the outside and Emily trying to keep things calm on the inside, they hope to all walk out alive.  However, the student's unusual behavior leads them to believe there may be more going on under the surface than appearances would have them believe . . .  Is it possible this seemingly unrelated event could be tied to Michael's death?

While I enjoyed the first book for its cop-show-esque feel, this one seriously ramped up the danger for an excellent suspense.  Given that the majority of the book takes place over the course of one day, it radiates intensity and tension.  While there is a fair amount of investigative work, it is second to the continual action.  Warning: this book is really hard to put down!  And then, in a stroke of cruel brilliance, it tantalizes the reader with what is to come in book three - which will not be out until spring 2015!

I like how Harris develops Mason and Emily's relationship.  Since most of the book takes place in the course of one day, it is difficult to forge a lasting relationship, even with some history between the two, and being two sensible adults, they know that statistically relationships formed under trauma do not last. However, I like how Mason and Emily decide to proceed - to not rush in, but neither to completely dismiss their feelings.  It is a fitting end to the book, leaving room for growth in the next. 

While the characters go to church and find faith important, there is not a particular message or lesson the story is trying to convey - I think it could do well as a clean suspense on the secular market as well as christian.  Harris has chosen an excellent style for the series - rather like a TV show, each episode (book) has conclusion, but the ongoing investigation of Michael's case tie the books together so that they must be read in order, keeping one hungry for more. 4.5 stars!

Thank you Revell for a free copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.

Southern Crimes
1. Dangerous Passage
2. Fatal Exchange
3. Hidden Agenda

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