Book Review: The Third to Die by Allison Brennan
FBI Special Agent Matt Costa is still putting together his Mobile Response Team, designed to be deployed whenever a local FBI agency gets stretched a little too thin, when he’s sent out to Liberty Lake near Spokane, Washington, to investigate what appears to be the latest victim of a serial killer the FBI have nicknamed the Triple Killer. With the clock ticking, Matt has six days to prevent two more murders… if he can figure out who the killer’s victims will be.
LAPD undercover officer Kara Quinn is on administrative leave after her last case ended badly. By pure chance, she’s the one who finds the body of the latest victim. Workaholic Kara can’t walk away from the case, and short-staffed Matt soon recognizes that she’s a formidable asset. The pair of them strike sparks, personally and professionally, and it’s a fascinating relationship dynamic as two very professional law enforcement agents negotiate their way around a confusing private relationship while keeping solid focus on their case.
There isn’t a lot too unusual about the actual mystery aspect to this case; we get some insights into the killer’s mind and know from fairly early on what his plans are, though as Matt and Kara get closer to cracking the case the killer’s psyche starts to unravel and he goes off the rails, improvising plans on the fly. The procedural aspects seem solid, with the frustration of agents hamstrung by bureaucracy or inability to get warrants in a timely fashion coming through loud and clear, forcing them to depend on the grind of old-fashioned police work, going through endless reports and interviewing potential witnesses to try and shake loose a lead, any lead, under the severe time constraints imposed by the killer’s timeline.
The tight timeframe keeps the plot moving, with no opportunity to get bogged down in tedium, but there were a few things I wasn’t too keen on. There was obviously a situation leading on from a prior incident with the team’s profiler Catherine, that maybe led on from a previous book… but this is the first book in this series. It’s all well and good to bring popular characters from another series in to start a new one, but when there’s a serious ongoing situation that’s not really adequately explained, it only serves to frustrate new readers who might be just picking up the first book in a new series and discovering the author for the first time. I actually felt like the profiler’s personal drama just detracted from the more interesting dynamic developing between Matt and Kara and the action in the case itself. Matt’s relationship with the profiler actually made me dislike him somewhat to begin with; he was bossy and refused to take no for an answer, always a turn off when it’s a man effectively giving orders to a female subordinate. It took most of the book for me to warm to him, and I still never liked his working relationship with Catherine.
In the end I enjoyed the read, but there were a few niggly things that keep me from giving this a full five stars. The ending was excellent and does set the team up for future action; I’d read more books in the series and hope to see the problems resolved by the next book. Four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.