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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ARC Review: Far Gone by Laura Griffin

I seriously want to take up residence in Laura Griffin’s brain. I’ve been a huge fan of her work, and especially her Tracers series, from the beginning and know that I can turn to any one of her novels for some of the best romantic suspense or romantic thrillers in the industry. And it only gets better with each novel! FAR GONE marks her well-deserved hardcover debut and the eighth entry in her Tracers series of loosely connected stories and delivers what readers have come to expect from a Laura Griffin novel—a perfectly paced white-knuckle thrill ride of a plot, a gutsy yet believably vulnerable heroine, and a swoon-worthy alpha hero with a sweet side you want to take home—whilst managing to keep it fresh and interesting despite being set in the same world as seven other novels (all of which can be read as standalones).

FAR GONE sees disgraced Austin PD detective Andrea Finch, on administrative leave following the officer-involved fatal shooting of a teenager holding up a restaurant kitchen, tracking her computer genius of a younger brother to a dusty West Texas border town and stumbling across an FBI undercover investigation into an anti-government homegrown terrorist following in the footsteps of Timothy McVeigh. Admittedly, the thwart-a-terrorist-attack plot isn’t particularly novel, but Ms. Griffin masterfully layers in political ideology, a series of seemingly unrelated bank robberies, a six-year-old cold murder case, Islamic radicals, and a compressed timeline leading up to April 19th (the anniversary of Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the beginning of the Revolutionary War) to create a complex, thrilling, thoroughly researched, and scarily believable multi-pronged storyline that captures the reader’s interest from the get-go.

Perfectly complementing the fast-moving plot is the complex blossoming relationship between undercover FBI Special Agent Jon North, working against the clock and the rest of the Bureau to link the seemingly unrelated cases to notorious antigovernment gun nut Shay Hardin, and Andrea, whose younger brother Gavin is implicated in the imminent attack. Andrea can’t imagine her sweet-natured brother being complicit to a terror plot and Jon can’t see how he could not be involved given that he’s living in Hardin’s fortress of a compound. What better source of romantic tension than falling for the fed investigating your brother who wants to use him as an inside source to stop a sociopath? Ms. Griffin skillfully builds that tension throughout the bulk of the book—the first love scene happens ~2/3 of the way through the novel—and the desire to see Andrea and Jon reconcile their differences and get their HEA (or HFN) keeps the reader turning the pages as much as the suspense plot. Ms. Griffin excels at striking that perfect balance between romantic tension and suspense and weaving the two together intimately; in FAR GONE, the romance isn’t particularly overt (perhaps to appeal more broadly to the hardcover thriller audience) but is an integral part of the story and the characters’ emotional journey. As per usual, the characterization is top notch and the protagonists well-developed and three-dimensional: with just a few words, we feel Andrea’s trust issues and fear of failure that threatens to get in the way of everything good in her life, and Jon’s protectiveness and commitment to stopping a ruthless villain no matter the personal cost. Andrea and Jon are both emotionally complex characters I wanted to both hug and whack upside the head for being (occasional) idiots, and they have a real, layered relationship-in-the-making that resonated with me. What Jon does near the end of the novel is sure to earn him much disdain from female readers, but I found it to be consistent with his character and an important contributor to making his relationship with Andrea realistic despite the short time frame.

Overall, FAR GONE is another great addition to the popular Tracers series (kind of—as more thriller than straight-up RS, it may be positioned somewhat outside of the Tracers brand despite featuring many of the series’ secondary characters) that is sure to satisfy Laura Griffin, romantic suspense, and romantic thriller fans alike. I’m already looking forward to what Ms. Griffin does next!

**ARC provided by Author**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle B&N | The Book Depository |


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