I have to give Suzanne Brockmann credit for this: she is not afraid to write things that will displease her fans. Her latest, Into the Fire, has three plot threads, and all three are very likely to annoy someone.
Actually, the very fact of three plot threads is enough to annoy me, mildly, as I think the book is overstuffed. But, to take each of them in turn:
First, there is a romantic suspense plot involving Murphy, whose wife was murdered several years ago back in Hot Target. The person responsible for his wife’s murder has turned up dead, he’s a suspect, and he can’t remember what he was doing at the time. This thread was just not going to work for me, because romances almost inevitably give me the impression that they are reducing dead lovers to mere obstacles in the way of One True Love, which annoys me. And while I am abnormally sensitive to this (for no reason that I can tell), I’m particularly uncomfortable with the way Brockmann characterizes the characters here.
Second, there’s more in the tangled *takes deep breath* Tess, Nash, Decker, Sophia, Dave, and Gillman . . . thing . . . which gives some answers but also introduces more questions and yet another character. Added all together, I’m neutral on these developments, but I suspect most of Brockmann’s fans will not be.
Third, there is new plot for Izzy Zanella, who was prominently featured in Into the Storm. I like Izzy, but this strikes me as Kitchen-Sink Angst, plus I have deep doubts about the last heaping of Angst (spoilers for the very end, see sidebar for ROT-13: vg’f vzzrqvngryl boivbhf sebz ybbxvat ng n gjragl-sbhe-jrrx zvfpneevrq srghf, rkcyvpvgyl fgngrq gb or oyhr-fxvaarq orpnhfr bs gur zvfpneevntr, gung gur sngure jnf abg oynpx? Jura gurer ner zhygv-enpvny nqhygf bhg gurer jub nera’g arprffnevyl vqragvsvnoyr nf fhpu ng svefg tynapr?). And aspects of this are likely to be controversial apart from the overall outcome.
On a positive note, Brockmann continues to populate her books with diverse characters: Murphy is multi-racial, while one new character is deaf and another is in her late forties. (Though I’d be even happier if at least one of her romances involved two non-white characters.) And her books are unquestionably fast smooth reads.
One final comment: this may not be the best book to read while pregnant.