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Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon

About the Book:
Author: Irene Hannon
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: 2011
Series: “Guardians of Justice” (book 1 of 3)
Genre: Christian Fiction, Suspense
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

My Thoughts: Dedicated and professional are words that U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor lives by. He doesn’t slouch in his responsibilities but there may be a first time for everything. Barely home from his latest mission, Jake is called in on protection duty for a federal judge, only she turns out to be not just any judge but his best friend’s wife. Blaming Liz Michaels for the death of Doug, Jake may hold a grudge but he is determined that it won’t affect his work. Mourning the loss of her sister, who was murdered by a killer who thought he was pulling the trigger on Judge Michaels, Liz has never known why Jake doesn’t like her… but she even blames herself for Doug’s death. Now the two off them discover that there is more to the other person than first impressions. Opening, this is one book that starts too slow for its own good but that one “issue” doesn’t ruin what is otherwise an entertaining read albeit one that is, in my opinion flawed.

The timing in reading this couldn’t have been more ironic as I had only recently begun watching the show, In Plain Sight which dedicates itself to informing viewers about the U.S. Marshal Service. I feel like this review is going to be one of my most critical though I cannot pinpoint why. Perhaps it was because there were so many people praising this author prior to my (finally!) reading her books therefore elevating my expectations or maybe something came across as “off” for me but whatever, I found this, the first book in Hannon’s trio of suspense novels, telling the stories of the Taylor siblings lacking. For a suspense novel, the pacing seemed horribly… misjudged. It moved slower than I expected and though the opening should have been slower, given its tragic circumstances – the waiting game was appropriate in that situation, there seems little explanation or excuse for the rest of the novel. In particular the last six or seven chapters weren’t realized with the skill Hannon is known for. I thought the whole “climax” part when it all comes down to Liz needing to be rescued was where this is most noticeable. In this section of the story, I found myself wondering at the motivation for it – it just didn’t fit with the villains prior M.O., and that made it all the more… unrealistic. It makes sense why there was the prolonged final chapters but it still could have come down less contrived because I think, in the end, that is one of the books great failings – everything seemed to hinge on eyewitness testimony from character’s that had no point in the story other than being in the right place at the right time.

As I said in the beginning, I am being critical with these ramblings. This book is a great read if you don’t mind the suspense of it being, well, less-than-suspenseful. The chemistry is good between the leads and is in fact, far from lacking. Early scenes between Liz and Jake will brook no refute of the sparks that fly between them but other than physical attraction, I don’t buy that they would fall head over heels for each other given the circumstances and the time frame. The static scenes between the couple are also fueled by a past albeit a limited one and impressions of the other person that turns out to be false which does add authenticity to the conflict but not necessarily easy believability. If you are fans of Hannon’s award-wining work, then do read this book. I am looking at it from a reader’s perspective not as an author who is a RITA recipient and as such, I don’t want to discourage readers from enjoying what is a good book.

In Summary: The pacing isn’t the best but the character’s are interesting studies as is the line of work Jake is in.

The Story: U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has seen plenty of action during his years in law enforcement. But he’d rather go back to Iraq than face his next assignment: protection detail for federal judge Liz Michaels. His feelings toward the coldhearted workaholic haven’t warmed in the five years since she drove her husband–and Jake’s best friend–to despair . . . and possible suicide.

As the danger mounts and Jake gets to know Liz better, he’s forced to revise his opinion of her. And when it becomes clear that an unknown enemy may want her dead, the stakes are raised. Because now both her life – and his heart – are in danger.

– Via the publisher

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