23 July 2012

Review: Not This Time by Vicki Hinze

Not This Time is the third book in the Crossroads Crisis Center series, and it gets straight into the action when Jeff Meyers arrives late to a wedding reception and finds all the guests lying lifeless on the ground. Unfortunately, this is about where the confusion started, as my first reaction was that this was some kind of elaborate joke, and my second was that the author had just killed off fifty people. Neither reaction was correct: it was a deliberate attack but there was only one (accidental) fatality, as the guests had actually been knocked out by a gas.

It is determined that this is an attack by NINA (Nihilists in Anarchy), who have been behind two previous incidents in Seagrove Village, Florida (I assume these were the subject of the earlier books in the series). It is then discovered that Robert Trayton has been kidnapped, and when his wife, Sara, is admitted to hospital it falls to her business partner, Beth, to assist the police and come up with the ransom money.

The first chapter is from the point of view of Jeff Meyers, and the second from the viewpoint of two policemen, who find a blood-soaked mattress in an abandoned house that was previously used by NINA in their criminal activities. The third chapter then introduces us to Beth, Sara, and everyone else of any importance to the plot. There were a lot of characters, with confusing relationships, and it took several chapters to actually work out who and what the story was about (it turned out that Jeff and the blood-soaked mattress are both sub-plots, despite the fact that most novels open with the main characters and main plot).

This, frankly, seemed strange. Most modern novels make an effort to introduce the main character in the opening pages, and, where there is a romantic subplot, to introduce the hero quickly as well (we meet Joe in Chapter Four), but Joe and Beth don’t actually see each other in person until well into the story, which makes it difficult to for the author to develop a convincing romantic interest. I liked Beth, I liked Joe (and I particularly liked his Cajun pet name for Beth), and I liked the idea of Beth and Joe, but their romance could have been better.

I did enjoy Not This Time once I worked out who was who, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who hasn’t already read and enjoyed Forget Me Notand Deadly Ties. I still have questions about aspects of the suspense part of the plot, and the romance, while sweet, wasn’t enough to make up for the confusing beginning.

Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah and BloggingforBooks for providing a free ebook for review.

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