I was excited to pick a copy of this book up for review, since I don’t think I’ve ever read a romantic suspense with a Coast Guard hero. The CGIS (Coast Guard Investigative Service) is a federal law enforcement agency which never really gets more than a supporting role in fiction, so I was definitely interested to learn more about the service. Imagine my surprise to discover that apparently CGIS agents are happy to allow civilians they’re attracted to, to assist them in processing crime scenes. Or help them question witnesses. At least, according to this author. Somehow, I don’t think this is actually representative of the real CGIS.
The agents in this book seem more concerned about what brand of shoes they’re wearing than the crimes they’re investigating. Seriously, I don’t think a single character put on a pair of shoes without the brand being named - it got to the point where I actually think the author might be being paid for product placement. It’s THAT bad. Not only shoes, either.
I struggled to maintain the narrative thread because the point of view character kept changing. Though the narrative ostensibly centers on Gabby, an investigative reporter whose brother Noah is in the CGIS, and her love interest, Noah’s friend and colleague Finn, the PoV kept jumping to Noah and another colleague, Rissa, and their part in the investigation. Mid-chapter and without warning, the narrative shift and change in pace was jarring to say the least.
More than all of this, what annoyed me most intensely was the overt evangelism of the characters. Thinking that she was grateful a new widow was a Christian because ‘at least she’d be comforted knowing her husband was with God’ was an attitude that horrified me from Gabby, even more than discovering she walked out on a three month relationship with Finn with NO NOTICE when she got a job offer in a different city. Seriously, she up and left the same day! I couldn’t believe he was willing to SPEAK to her, much less put his life on the line for her sake, or that her brother would have the gall to ASK him to. Her holier-than-thou attitude and constant thinking about how grateful she was for God’s provision and protection really grated once I knew how badly she’d treated someone she professed to care about.
I was so irritated by the obvious misrepresentation of the CGIS’ professionalism (two traitor members and a bunch of incompetent ones), the product placement, the evangelising and Gabby being such a queen bee - there’s a difference between being a driven investigative reporter and stubbornly TSTL - that I honestly didn’t care if the plot was any good or not. Not a spoiler: it could have been, but ended with a deus ex machina instead, the main villain not having been anywhere in the plot up until he suddenly turned up and started killing subordinates for failing him.
This is the second story I’ve read set in the American South in a matter of a couple of weeks where literally everyone is white, too. Oh. Except one of the villains, who was Latinx. Which is actually worse than all-white, when your only character of color is a villain.
Fail on all counts, including racism, so this is getting a one star from me.
The Killing Tide is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.