Friday, November 23, 2012

Jacob's War by C. P. Rowlands

Publisher:      Bold Strokes Books

Anyone who suggests to C.P. Rowlands that she should write anything besides an adventure/thriller book should be taken out and punished….harshly.  Her first book Lake Effect Snow was excellent; then she wrote a romance.  Fortunately, she has returned to what she is very good at with Jacob’s War.  She needs to stay in that genre.

Allison Jacob is an ATF agent who is working on a joint task force trying to uncover a drug ring operating around Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Katie Blackburn is a business owner whose world collides with Allison’s the night she comes out to her car and finds a bloody woman in it.  The woman is one of Allison’s contacts and now Katie finds herself pulled into the investigation.  Katie has a connection to the drug ring that she won’t be aware of until the end of the book, but it leads to her cooperating with Allison to try and find the leader of the gang.  Such a close working relationship leads to a closer romantic relationship, but both women have been hurt before and are reluctant to commit.  Then there is that shadow connection of Katie’s, which could get them both killed.

Most Americans are probably not aware of the serious meth problem going on in the northern Midwest of their country.  Traveling through those states, which most people associate with the dairy industry and healthy living, can be a shock when the numerous signs and postings about the drug situation become apparent.  Rowlands, who lives in Wisconsin, obviously is very informed about the problem.  She’s done extensive research on the drug war and the police procedures involved with trying to combat it.  This gives a feeling of gritty reality to her story.

Rowlands is excellent at creating suspense in her stories and in crafting multidimensional characters.  Neither Allison nor Katie is a simpering, weak woman dependent on the other for her strength.  Most “suspense” stories seem to require that one character fill that slot.  Instead, they are both strong women, with weaknesses.  This makes them fuller and more interesting characters.  Rather than wanting to scream at the silliness so common in some female characters  in this genre, the reader becomes invested in what they are doing.  The reader gets an inkling of what is really going on before the characters do, but this adds to the suspense.  It’s similar to being in a movie theater and yelling at the character not to open that door because the viewer knows that what is behind it isn’t good.  Jacob’s War is a page turner right up to the end.

C.P. Rowlands has done a masterful job in allowing her main characters to develop their personal identities and of capturing the danger of dealing in the drug war.  The cover of the book suits the story perfectly, though the description on the back is a little sketchy.  There is a running tag line on the front cover that says “Drugs, murder, drugs, sex, drugs….”  What should have been added is “suspense, suspense, suspense.” The book is fast paced and draws the reader along.  This is easily a book that can be read in one sitting.  It wasn’t intended that way probably, but putting the book down is difficult.

Jacob’s War marks the much needed return of C.P. Rowlands to the mystery/suspense genre.  Let’s hope she doesn’t forget how to find her way there again.


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