Dani Pettrey, author of the successful Alaskan Courage series featuring the rugged, close knit McKenna family, has returned with COLD SHOT, another suspense title, but one set on the East Coast. Featuring Griffin McCray, a former sniper for the Baltimore PD, COLD SHOT opens with McCray, now a Gettysburg park ranger, finding a skeleton near an archival dig. When he notices a bit of flesh on the bones, Griffin fears they have discovered a recent grave, not remains from the Civil War. Forensic anthropologist Finley Scott, who has been working at Gettysburg, is asked to examine the discovery and soon both Griffin and Finley realize they have a crime scene. Evidence points to a murder by an expert sniper. And clearly someone does not want the body identified or the crime solved, because within hours Finley's home and office are broken into and bugged.
While COLD SHOT is not peopled with multiple family members like all the Alaskan Courage novels, it does bring in Griffin's high school and college buddies -- Parker and Declan, each who have hidden stories bound to be future books. And then there are numerous references to another friend, Luke, a police officer who mysteriously disappeared several years before. Even if you were not enamored with this book, you will certainly want to know what Luke's story is, and will likely return to future titles hoping he makes an appearance.
Pettrey is compared to Dee Henderson, Terri Blackstock, and Lisa Wiehl, and I certainly believe she is as talented as they are. A strong point of her writing is that she makes the faith of the main characters evident throughout the novel, not relying on an added paragraph or a single reference to "make it" a Christian novel. And she makes it clear that secondary characters such as Parker and Declan are worthy of notice and that they will return in future stories. Plus she is not afraid to take on tough topics; our villains in this book are involved in the Far eastern sex trade and war crimes. Even with all that, I was slightly disappointed in this title. That formula of mystery, love, suspense that underlies all romantic suspense novels seemed to be too close to the surface in this book. While I felt that Finley was quite well developed, I did not feel the same about Griffin. His relationship with Finley jumped from mild curiosity to full blown love in a matter of hours, and yes, I know that is what is expected in these books, but I still felt it was too contrived. Plus, I am bit tired of main characters (and the side characters destined for their own stories) all having scarring pasts which they hide at every opportunity. Maybe I've just read too many suspense novels and need a break.
If you are a full fledged suspense lover, especially if you are a newer reader of the genre, then you will appreciate COLD SHOT and will be eager to read more by Dani Pettrey. Others, like me, may find it a good, entertaining read, but not one that surprises at any point. If you are new to Pettrey's books, why not start with the Alaska series first? The remote Alaskan settings adds another layer of enjoyment to the suspense.
I found a copy of this title and other Pettrey books through out library system.