In the final novel of the Private Justice series, Private Investigator Connor Sullivan has quite the improbable case dropped in his lap: Kate Marshall - whose husband and son were declared drowned in a boating accident three years ago, though the boy's body was never found - swears she saw her son in the mall, and that he seemed to recognize her before vanishing with a man. As unlikely as the case sounds, especially since the drowning happened in New York, not Missouri, Connor determines to look into it and try to prove the boy's identity. As he investigates, suspicious circumstances keep cropping up - nothing concrete enough to go to the police, but enough to suggest that the boating accident that killed Kate's husband may have been no accident after all . . .
One thing that impresses me is the work ethic of the private investigators in this series; they do the legwork, even hours of fruitless surveillance, phone calls that amount to nothing, and digging through barrels of trash. Everything they work on is within the confines of the law; they are meticulous about running an exemplary business. They explain why they have to use certain tactics, some of which border on unethical - like "pretext" (making up a story to gain information) - but it is always with the intent to see justice done and lying as little as possible. As one of the three men on the team, Connor makes for a strong, honorable hero.
Villains can make or break a suspense, especially when it comes to their motives. While very different from the other villains in the series, this one is fascinating - he isn't a chillingly creepy guy like in Trapped, but rather the sort that can wreak havoc with the reader's sympathy. I don't want to give away too much, but his story, his motives, his feelings for the child in his care - they really add an extra dimension to the story. This villain is perfect for this novel!
Though the premise of this story is an incredibly unlikely coincidence, I love what the author has to say about it: "Coincidence is a small miracle in which God chooses to remain anonymous" (335). I've seen a number of crazy things labeled as coincidence, but God's hand is always behind them. Is the plot of this novel unrealistic? Yes, by the world's standards. But God is sovereign, and unlikely and impossible things happen every day - nothing is too small or too big for Him.
Hooray for intelligent characters who recognize the gravity of the situation and don't run around doing stupid things they know will compromise their safety! Too often that is the impetus for moving a suspenseful plot forward, but thankfully not in this book. I also appreciate that Kate realizes she must prepare for a child who no longer knows her and who has been raised by someone claiming to be his father; she knows life is going to be really tough on that little boy, caught in the cross-hairs as he is. Though Deceived does not have the same intense, creepy-scary suspense as Trapped (book two), it is a gripping read and hard to put down.
Thank you Revell for providing a free book for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.