- Book: BEFORE SHE WAKES – (Max Carter FBI – Book #3)
- Location: Seattle
- Author: Ed James
Wow! I just couldn’t put this one down, or turn the pages fast enough, in my eagerness to discover the final outcome.
I wondered just how this book would play out, as there are so many US authors writing British centric crime thrillers, but seldom the other way around, especially when this particular author has already earned himself an excellent reputation with his several popular British Detective series. However, for me this was a totally seamless transition, with the narrative and dialogue sounding authentic and true, obviously the result of some dedicated and very thorough research.
I also came into the series with this, book #3, wondering just how much of a backstory I might have missed. I can definitely see that those of you who are confirmed ‘series readers’, may be happier being introduced to FBI Agent Max Carter from his inception, as like many such law enforcement officers, he does appear to come with an inordinate amount of emotional baggage. However for me, getting thrown into this case and having the backstory fed to me in small chunks at regular intervals, worked just fine and I in no way felt cheated or short-changed.
In fact, this was a well-constructed, multi-layered storyline, with two separate strands which became intrinsically linked and often overlapped, becoming tangled together on several occasions. However Max’s team needed to keep them separated as much as possible, and Max confined to working on just the original investigation, because as the initial missing child case progressed and the surprise second elements came into play, it became apparent that these new revelations would have influence over and consequences for, Max personally.
Any storyline which involves the abuse of children is always going to be intense and disturbing and this one did jump around a little, however that only reflected the fast changing dynamics of the case itself, making me realise just how difficult and demanding working these situations must really be, as each new piece of information means that decisions have to be made and the direction of investigation changed, at a split seconds notice. I was kept well and truly on my toes as an independent observer to the ever-evolving events. Taking all that into account, the powerful and confident writing, which was split into relatively short chapters, was kept fluid and the action was constantly fast-paced. Twists and turns which increased the dread and menace of a good outcome for this emotionally draining story, were thrown in to the mix with consummate ease, whilst sneaky red herrings heightened the tension and always had me second guessing my suspects, although I did manage to figure things out just a little ahead of the big reveal.
Ed has created an excellent mix of well developed and defined characters, all of which were emotionally complex and quite difficult to relate to. There were also those who operated in the rather ‘grey’ middle zone, where the lines between good and bad were intentionally rather blurred, making me unsure on which side of the divide they belonged, adding intrigue and texture to the storyline. Max has a genuine depth of feeling to his personality, obviously getting great fulfilment from the job he has chosen to do. He and his team appear to operate quite efficiently and with good synergy as a unit and I detected very little tension between them, even when his subordinates needed to carefully side-line him, both to protect him from his own personal memories and demons, and so as not to compromise the case which was at the very centre of the operation, that of returning a missing child.
This is certainly a series which would work well as a televised adaptation, with FBI Agent Max Carter, definitely a name to remember!