Saturday, October 6, 2012

For the Helpless, by Lori Boggs

For the HelplessFor the Helpless by Lori Boggs

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Kelly Lowe is a tough as nails, sassy, homicide detective juggling her job and a boyfriend who is more romantically inclined than she is. When young girls start disappearing and showing up brutally tortured and murdered, and the killer begins trading taunting phone calls with her, the story becomes a race against time for Kelly to find him without becoming a victim herself.

There is a lot of action and danger in this novel, all of it packed concisely into scenes that flick one to another with the breeziness of a made for TV crime thriller. Detective Lowe is a textbook composite of personalities suitable for "movie of the week heroine" and she wavers constantly between tough tomboy swagger and cat cuddling vulnerability. It was easy enough to like her, especially in scenes where she stood up to men twice her size, and bantered in a sibling-esque fashion with her seasoned partner. There was a lot of censored restraint exercised in writing her, however, and it showed bluntly in emotionally charged scenes where Lowe is reduced to yelling "Mother-effer" as she punches out in frustration or refers to people simply as "S.O.B's".

The bleeps are of course the writer's choice and violence and language is clearly kept to a PG-13 minimum. It does provide a refuge for a reader wanting a crime thriller without all the gory extras, but at the same time it gave me this feeling that Detective Lowe was merely a sassy teenage girl pretending to be a cop. The sharp edge of danger I wanted to feel just was not present in the book.

The plot is quite complicated and at times confusing, as there is little real face put to the villain or suspects, at least not until around the last third of the novel. There are the taunting phone calls to Detective Lowe and a twist or two but the energy spent on trying to untangle a pile of suspects who had no personality left me rather cold and not on the edge of my seat. That isn't to say the killer had no teeth, however. Innocent girls are murdered and in horrible fashion but the entire feel of it was as if it were "Seven" packaged for the Family Channel.

I can't say I hated this book because I read through it easily and with enough concern for Detective Lowe's fate, but I did not particularly like it either. I think the author does have a good knack for telling a story, but I really would like her to throw a little more snarl into the pot.

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