{Review} Twisted by Laura Griffin

Oh, Laura Griffin, why can’t I quit you?

For real… you’d think after I went mildly ballistic over the Magical Missing Condom Syndrome in Griffin’s previous novel, Snapped* and wanted to strangle the main character in One Wrong Step (Celie is the worst main character I’ve ever read—I wanted the bad guys to kill her and leave her body in a ditch), I’d be able to make a clean break from Griffin’s books. But, oh no… a new Tracers book magically accidentally landed on my Kindle and I devoured it in a couple of evenings. 

This is my problem: I enjoyed the hell out of Laura Griffin’s Glass Sisters duology (especially the first one, Thread of Fear). Those two books were the perfect formula for awesomesauce brain candy: decently suspenseful but not too stressful, smart/tough women, smart/tough guys, an interesting setting. I also really, really enjoyed the first book in the Tracers series (which is kind of connected to the Glass Sisters series), Untraceable, because one of the main characters is a female computer hacker for good, which is incredibly badass. So, I keep reading Griffin’s books, hoping to recapture that magic.

And, a lot of those elements are there in subsequent books—plus, Griffin’s a pretty good writer.

She’s got a snappy, journalist style and doesn’t get bogged down in procedure or unnecessary details. (Do not bring details and nuance into my brain candy!) Yet, with that said, her novels still seem well-researched—more so than your average CSI episode at least. Trust me on this.

Since I have lost my stomach for a lot of mysteries in the last few years, I’ve tried a lot of the fluffy rom/suspense writers and most of them are just not at all my thing. They tend to be painfully formulatic and beyond ridiculous. (Ridiculous**, I can handle, in fact, I kind of love ridiculous—beyond that… no thanks.) 

Also, I have learned two things about Texas from Laura Griffin’s books:

  1. The state is virtually crawling with serial killers. It’s amazing anyone survives past thirty there.***
  2. The state is also virtually crawling with extremely attractive law enforcement officers.**** 

Anyway… I should probably get to my review at some point, eh?

The Tracers series (Twisted is the fifth installment) centers around Texas law enforcement that are loosely connected with the Delphi Center (some of the books feature characters who work at the Delphi Center, but each book enlists the Center’s help in some way). Basically, the smarty pants scientists, hackers and receptionists (yes, really) at the Delphi Center help the FBI and local sheriffs crack hard-to-solve cases (obviously, this is a HUGE problem, given the crazy-high percentage of the population in Texas who’re serial killers). Fortunately, everyone at the Delphi Center and the various law enforcement agencies happen to be attractive, smart, ass-kicking hotties, so sparks tend to fly during the crime-solving. 

I know, I know… all the WTFery awesome is hard to comprehend.

The latest installment in the series, Twisted, features Allison Doyle, a young (27), newbie detective who’s trying to prove herself in the good ol’ boys club of the San Marcos police department and Mark Wolf, an obsessive, older (43) FBI profiler. They team up to track down a super-creepy serial killer that Mark’s been after for years (honestly—usually serial killers in these books don’t even faze me because they’re kind of absurd, but this one is legitimately creepy). Now, naturally, there’s a significant amount of suspension of disbelief that needs to be employed in order to comprehend why the two are teamed up (it has to do with a frozen pizza), but you know… who cares, really? Obviously, since they’re both hot and into crime-solving, they need to team up, so if a frozen pizza is the vehicle that facilitates that happening, oh well.

The suspense in Twisted exceeded that of the last few installments in the Tracers series.

Obviously, it’s a given that the main characters are going to solve the crime and live happily ever after (serial killers: the ultimate in modern matchmaking). So, there’s not a lot of mystery as to the outcome of any of Griffin’s books. However, despite knowing that, there was legit tension in Twisted, and I actually didn’t solve the crime before our leads did (this kind of annoyed me, because I like being the smarty pants who sees the super-obvious clues before the FBI agent/brooding hottie). 

Unlike some of the other novels in this series (*cough* Snapped *cough*), in Twisted, the relationship between the two leads develops in a slow sort of way. I know this may be a shock, but Mark and Allison actually grow to have professional respect for one another prior to realizing that the other is totally and completely HOT. In fact, one of the reasons that the like each other is because they’re really into their respective crime-solving gigs—you know, common ground, mutual interests and all that. Their relationship would probably be borderline inappropriate in real life, but Griffin actually addressed this, so it didn’t annoy me like it may have if it weren’t handled so well.

However, there were some significant annoyances in Twisted.

Like in many of Griffin’s books (and the entire sub-genre, really) Allison/the female lead winds up in a scrape with her life endangered, thus facilitating the need for a heroic rescue on the part of Mark/the male lead. This baffles me particularly because Allison is a freaking detective and this is not the only time she does something bone-headed that puts her in danger. If she were too stupid to live, I’d understand, but she’s proven herself to be a capable law enforcement officer, so it felt out of character that she’d wind up in these situations. What I really want is an ass-kicking female lead to rescue the dude.

But, I realize I’m probably in the minority with that among Griffin’s readers in my gripe about this. It’s kind of par for the course in the sub-genre. Now, I’m not saying that Allison is weak or stupid—because Griffin’s female characters aren’t—but I’d like the female lead to be the rescuer sometime, not just the rescued. 

And, there’s an awkward sex scene.

Which has become more or less Griffin’s signature. Strangely, I’ve read a bunch of reviews saying how “hot” that was, and I just don’t get it. Without going into detail, because no one wants that, one of the characters is injured due to an unfortunate encounter in a prison and I kept thinking that the injuries would be exacerbated in the course of said awkward sex scene. At least there was obvious condom usage, so I wasn’t left screaming, 

Chlamydia isn’t sexy, y’all!!!

 

I think this is the second book of Griffin’s that’s featured Ben Lawson, the Delphi Center’s nerd/cool computer dude, and I’m crossing my fingers that he’s a main character in a future book in this series. (Dammit! Did I just commit to reading more Laura Griffin books? Arrrggg!) My favorite moments in this series have featured the computer nerd crime solvers (i.e., Alex in the first book), so I’ll be crossing my fingers. (I notice the next book features an anthropologist and Navy SEAL. What could possibly go wrong with that pairing?)

I appreciate that Twisted, like the rest of the Tracers series, can be read as a standalone.

There are references to and appearances by characters from other books in the Tracers series, so you get a bit of an update on what’s happening with them when reading Twisted, but you’re not going to be lost as to who all these people are. (And there’s quite a bit of foreshadowing about the next book in the series… which I’m sure will magically accidentally end up on my Kindle.) The interconnectedness is fun, not annoying. 

If you enjoy a bit of brain candy awesomeness like Nora Roberts’ Chasing Fire, you’d probably have a lot of fun reading Twisted. (If you have a problem with Nora, I don’t even know what to say.) Griffin’s writing is snappy and fresh with an intriguing “world” that tricks you into embracing the ridiculous.

Note: If you’re interested in trying this series, I noticed that the first book (my favorite in the Tracers series) is only 99 cents on Kindle right now. 

FNL Character Rating: Ineligible due to ridiculousness.

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*Omigod… I just noticed I gave Snapped three stars on Goodreads! Seriously, this is why I can’t be involved in any sort of numeric ratings system. Because, honestly, it was more like a two, but I liked Jonah and thought it was an interesting premise, so three stars it was, I guess. What the hell was I thinking? 
**What’s beyond ridiculous? Absurd, hair-brained and straight-up goofy all exceed ridiculous on my Braincandy Silly Premise Scale. 
*** TEXAS FOREVER, y’all. 
**** Which is why I feel so cheated regarding my one encouter with the long arm of the law in Texas. (What? Let’s just say they take jaywalking very seriously in Houston.)

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