Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fragmentary Blue by Erica Abbott

Publisher:           Bella Books

Fragmentary Blue is the story of two police officers.  C.J. St. Clair has just been hired to head the Internal Affairs Division in Colfax, Colorado, and one of the first people she meets is Capt. Alex Ryan, the head of the detective unit.  There is the requisite immediate attraction that occurs between the women and then the complication arrives.  Alex is accused first of helping a criminal to escape and then murder.  C.J. is suddenly faced with having to investigate the woman she would like to be involved with.  Alex is looking at the end of her career and possibly prison at the hands of the woman she thought could change her life.  In order to prove Alex is innocent of the charges, they may have to forfeit having any relationship at all.

This is a typical cop loves cop story.  The women make an effective team and then are brought into conflict.  The characters are likable and the reader will hope they work things out.  The mystery behind what is happening begins to collapse about half way through the book and it’s fairly easy to predict who is manipulating everything.  There is a shocking incident thrown in to raise the tension in the story, but even then the reader knows what the resolution will be.

There are two annoying points.  C.J. sounds like a refugee from Gone With The Wind.  Abbott takes a young woman in her thirties, which means she grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, and treats her as if she were raised in a much earlier time.  Her behavior and speech don’t always match with someone her age.  The biggest mistake in the book however is more serious.  Abbott presents her characters as honorable, straight shooters when it comes to their careers.  When Alex gets in trouble however, C.J. breaks every ethical rule she can to continue on the investigation.  When this is discovered at the end of the book, she then receives a less than minimal punishment for what she does.  Anyone with any sense knows that C.J.’s behavior would not have been tolerated by a real police department and would have resulted in her being fired.  Having things work out as they do might be pleasing for some readers, but it’s jarring for those who prefer that stories be more realistic.

Fragmentary Blue demonstrates that Erica Abbott has promise as a writer.  It is her debut novel and acceptable as such.  The sense is that she can be a better writer and the hope is that this will prove to be true in later books.  For now, it’s an entertaining story for a light read.

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