Good Morning, Killer
Author April Smith introduced her readership to FBI Special Agent
Ana Grey in her first thriller, NORTH OF MONTANA. Grey returns in
GOOD MORNING, KILLER. She is hardworking, sharp and tenacious in
pursuit of the bad guys, devoted to upholding justice. In her
second novel, Smith explores the personality she has created in Ana
Santa Monica is stunned when one of its daughters, Juliana
Meyer-Murphy, is kidnapped. Grey is teamed with her lover,
Detective Andrew Berringer, to solve the crime and return the
teenage girl to her family --- if she is found alive. Tensions run
high between the two law enforcement officers when the case takes
them in different directions. On the one hand, Grey's authority
supersedes that of the local police unit, while Berringer would
prefer that the Feds remove themselves from the scene. Escalating
extremes of emotion stretch the romantic relationship between the
two to the breaking point, cooling off at best.
Grey's persona is many-sided. She is often portrayed as too tough.
The contrast between her soft maternal side and her dogged
obsessive professionalism presents a woman with whom one has little
empathy. Her relentless compulsion to solve Juliana's case takes
her beyond the workplace. There, she has fragmented cooperation
with her co-operatives by her erratic behavior.
When the unsolved bank robbery case in which Grey first worked with
Berringer resurfaces, she begins to cement the puzzle pieces into a
nasty picture for the Santa Monica Police Department. Grey's love
affair with Berringer becomes tempestuous when she realizes that he
may have knowledge about the case that could blow the roof off his
department. She also discovers that he has not been honest with
Smith takes the novel down a twisting path when Grey simultaneously
sniffs out the kidnapper who has brutalized Juliana and digs for
evidence in the old bank robbery case. She will not give up the
search for the brute that preys on young girls. But she antagonizes
her team players with unrealistic emotion. In all, the suspense
builds to keep the reader turning pages.
Smith has not diluted the violence one expects with the capital
crimes she writes about. Scarcely a breath can remove one scene of
molestation from the next, however remote their connection. She
describes Grey's struggle with Berringer in exacting detail and
leaves little room for the question of Grey's guilt. Grey's dilemma
becomes, not job stability, but the fight for her life.
The conclusion brings her new self-awareness. She discovers a
gentle side of herself that has deep compassion for all life.
Empathy replaces raw passion.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 22, 2011