Top critical review
EMPHASIS NOT ON TRACY ENOUGH WHILE ROLE AS WIFE,MOTHER-TO-BE LESS INTERESTING
Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2018
A STEEP PRICE (TRACY CROSSWHITE BOOK 6) BY ROBERT DUGONI
MY REVIEW 3 STARS***
This new installment of the author's successful Tracy Crosswhite series is a novel with two primary plot threads, essentially two very different crime stories running parallel with the author unraveling their respective narratives alternately almost chapter by chapter. I will acknowledge that Dugoni does an acceptable job balancing these plotlines without unduly confusing this reader.
My criticism is that in my case I did not feel that he was successful in
"building suspense and keeping (me) on (my) toes" as one editorial review stated. In fact, I would posit that the novel was actually slow paced, and the book bogged down almost right out of the gate in my case. The plotline that focused on the shooting death of an African American women who was endeavoring to make her neighborhood a safer place to live just didn't resonate with me. I am cognizant that there are poor areas in most metropolitan cities, and I have heard enough about slum landlords, gang-related violence, homicides in poor areas of the cities, drug dealers, and the devastating effects of widespread drug addiction in these impoverished areas to last me a lifetime.
Having said that, the back story about Faz and his spouse Vera, son Antonia, was not needed. The sad reality of married couples being torn asunder by the very real horror of a cancer diagnosis is not what I buy a crime thriller to read about. I like Faz and his long time partner Del, but their personal lives and their cases are not why I buy an installment of the Tracy Crosswhite book series.
Speaking of Tracy, I am not thrilled with her character as a wife and mother-to-be. The underlying theme of children and motherhood ran throughout the book, to include Kins and his "words to the wise" to Tracy about her returning to work after the baby was born; Faz and the background on why he and Vera were destined to have only one child. I found myself sorely missing the Tracy of old, the fast-drawing strong female lead of the original novel and how she was featured in the earlier installments. Approximately 35% into the book there are two different investigations being juggled back and forth as previously noted. Dugoni is decent at making transitions but I was completely disinterested in the case Faz and Del were working and bored with the personal life stuff being piped in all the time, especially the depressing cancer angle. I also found myself despising Dan for his chauvinistic attitude toward women.
I was interested in the missing person case that Tracy's colleague had told her about to elicit assistance with the investigation. The "Indian Way" is both interesting and intriguing to learn more about, "arranged marriages" and the role of women a large component but not nearly all of the so-called "way". I was mildly curious about the new character of Detective Gonzales who was mysteriously assigned to the A Team after what I perceived as shenanigans by Tracy's old foe Nolasco. However, it was not until approximately 60% into the book that I became engaged in BOTH of the storylines---specifically when the missing person became a homicide and Faz was involved with Gonzales in the officer-involved shooting.
I truly enjoyed the final 40% of the book, albeit I would never say that this novel sported a "fast-moving plot that builds to a shocker of an ending". The plotline that bored me senseless in the beginning actually did surprise me with its clever and believable plot twist. That is if I give a pass to Faz for his cavalier disregard for computer passwords to protect privatized files. The independent Indian girl who longed to live the American dream and become a medical doctor did not have a surprise ending at all. The true case of Rajinder Atwal, found guilty of stabbing his 17-year-old daughter to death was just recently broadcast on TV. Amandeep had fallen in love with an American student and she had hidden the affair from her parents. Sadly, she did not escape the chains of her culture before her father murdered her in cold blood. The ending of Dugoni's story was quite similar, and the plot could have been pulled from a newspaper story. I recall the heinous case of the mother holding her daughter down while the father stabbed her to death, albeit I cannot recall whether that case was Indian or Muslim. The term "honour killing" suggests some justification or religious rationale for killing one's child. Atwal's case was changed to second degree murder and I think the sentence was reduced to something like 16 years. The failure of a select group of immigrants to assimilate into this great country of ours is a tragedy that appears to have no solution.
This book was never going to elicit 5-Stars from me, and I am deducting 1-Star for the slow paced plot and its failure to fully engage my interest until I had already read well past the halfway mark in the book. I believe a rating of 3 Stars is the best I can muster.
SLOW-PACING WHILE TRANSITIONING TRACY INTO WIFE, MOTHER KILLS INTEREST AND EXCITEMENT OF DEBUT NOVEL AND EARLIER BOOKS IN SERIES