Book Log #89, 91-95: The Bear Claw Creek Crime Lab books, by Jessica Andersen

I’m going to hit all of these in one big post since they’re a series of related Harlequin Intrigue novels, like you often get with romances. I actually picked up the last of them, Internal Affairs, on the strength of it being a) written by Jessica Andersen, whose work I’m quite liking with her Nightkeepers novels, and b) it’s an amnesia plot. Okay, fine, I’m a sucker for an amnesia plot, what can I say? *^_^*;;

Anyway, all six of these books are set in a fictional Colorado town, and fall fairly neatly in two trilogies. The first trilogy, Ricochet, At Close Range, and Rapid Fire deal with our three heroines being hired into the Bear Claw Creek PD as the new forensics department, a move that’s pissed off most of the force as they resent these newcomers taking the place of the much-respected expert who’s suddenly retired. So each woman has the hassle of trying to fit in with her new job as well as the obligatory male lead with whom to clash, and on top of it all, there’s a conspiracy going on that’s aimed squarely at destabilizing the police department.

Trilogy #2, Manhunt in the Wild West, Mountain Investigation, and Internal Affairs, broadens the scope and sets up Bear Claw Creek as the target of a terrorist mastermind. I found this one less entertaining than the first one, mostly because the whole idea of using terrorists as the bad guys struck too close to real life for me; this made it a bit difficult to enjoy the books as escapist fare. Nor did it help that the terrorists were very, very stock characters and had only We’re Evil Because We’re Terrorists going in terms of motivation; the one potentially interesting character, a former federal agent who turns traitor, is not explored at all.

But since I mostly read these things for the suspense and the romance, I will at least allow that I got them in spades. The various female and male leads all followed predictable patterns of establishing their relationships, but I did like that in general, there weren’t any Great Big Misunderstandings used as plot conflicts, and the women were right there taking on the bad guys alongside the men. There was a satisfying amount of things going splody, one not-too-over-the-top sex scene per book, and more than one “Oh no I’ve been a flaming idiot I need to go rescue my woman now” epiphany on the part of the menfolk. What was more interesting to me was establishing all of these characters as a tightly-knit network of friends and colleagues, and how the events in one book played into the next.

As for the amnesia plot, aheh, it hit all the appropriate points, and as the conclusion of the latter trilogy, was the strongest of the three. All in all though I quite prefer Andersen’s Nightkeeper books; in those, she has a lot more room to exercise her prose and bring characters to life. Three stars each for the books in the first trilogy, and two stars for the first two of the second, but three for Internal Affairs. For the series as a whole, three stars.