Brockmann, Suzanne: (07) Flashpoint

Flashpoint starts a new arc in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series, focusing on all-new characters and the new civilian team created as a result of the prior two books. It has no World War II content whatsoever and is substantially shorter than its immediate predecessors. After an earthquake in an Afghanistan-analogue, a covert five-person team heads in to recover a MacGuffin. Two of them, Tess and Nash, are forced to pretend to be married, and of course they just happen to have unresolved relationship issues. Meanwhile, they cross paths with another new character, Sofia, who is escaping from sexual torture at the hands of the local warlord.

Oracne and I were just discussing, in comments to the Into the Storm post, the allocation of Giant Angst between the men and women in this series, and this book definitely felt to me like the men had a disproportionate share. In the principal relationship thread, it seems like Tess’s role is basically to stand around while Nash wrestles with his Giant Angst. I didn’t find this thread satisfactory, and then I realized at least one reason why: it isn’t complete. There’s absolutely no way to tell that from this book—which is another problem—but some unresolved problem is hinted at in Into the Storm, which I hadn’t registered at the time because I didn’t know the characters.

Sophia also strikes me as problematic in terms of Giant Angst, though partly I’m judging her by (1) her appearance in Into the Storm and (2) her functional resemblance to Gina Vitagliano, another character with a long arc that started in traumatic sexual violence. Sophia is brave and tough and manages to rescue herself pretty well in this book. However, what I’ve seen of both her and Gina’s subsequent arcs—and I haven’t completed them—strike me as taking their Giant Angst, of trauma to be overcome, and making it instead their would-be lovers’ Giant Angst, as an obstacle that they can’t get past even though the women already have. And I am uncomfortable with this shift, together with the extended focus on the trauma.

As I said, though, I haven’t finished either of these arcs—indeed, Sophia’s arc isn’t finished yet—so perhaps my concerns will be addressed. However, it was another thing about this book that left me feeling mildly grumpy. But even though Brockmann’s relationships are hit-or-miss for me, I still want to find out what happens next . . .

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