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    Review of INTO THE FIRE by Suzanne Brockmann (see her website)


    Ballantine, July 2008

    Navy Seal Izzy Zanella is looking for a beer and some fun--when a truly beautiful girl walks into the bar. The trouble--she's looking for another Seal, a Seal Izzy really doesn't like. Even bigger trouble, she's the Seal's sister and definitely off limits. But Izzy doesn't do all of his thinking with his brain. Still, when she turns up months later and pregnant, he knows there is no way in the world he's the father. Still, Izzy is the hero type and is happy to claim the child, marry the girl, and hope for a happily ever after.

    Hannah Whitfield has loved Vinh Murphy for years--even after he fell for her best friend. Angelina is dead now, but Vinh feels responsible for her death--a death that all of the other Troubleshooters also feel responsible for. He attempted suicide by alcohol poisoning for years and even went looking for Hannah's guns. But now it seems he's getting his head together. Maybe they would have a chance--except that the FBI is after Vinh for suspected assassination of the leader of the Christian terrorist group who is responsible for Angelina's death.

    Meanwhile, at Troubleshooter headquarters, there are a bunch of really screwed up guys (and women) who seem intent on deliberately screwing up their lives--to the point where their boss brings in a psychologist who seems to make things worse. And there's a super-secret 'Agency' blackmailing troubleshooters into doing what it wants, even if it gets them killed.

    Author Suzanne Brockmann (see more reviews of novels by Brockmann) can't quite pull of this complicated and inward-focussed story. The Izzy/Eden story has a lot of potential, but it was hard to see Izzy and Eden with much in common besides a love for oral sex. The Hannah/Vinh story, with its best friend angle and the potential suicide angle is also a struggle to get into. Worse, from the standpoint of a Suzanne Brockmann story, the adventure part took way too long getting started. It seemed like nothing happened but introspection for the first two thirds of the book. The action portion felt almost like an add-on, because the editors demanded that something happen.

    I'm a big fan of author Suzanne Brockmann (see more reviews of novels by Brockmann) and INTO THE FIRE has moments when Brockmann's strong style and sense of adventure show through. For me, though, too much of this book moved too slowly, with two many characters all angsting and with no clear sense of why any two characters were right for one another. I did, however, like the whole Christian terrorist angle--a fresh slant and a useful reminder that anything, carried to extreme, can turn evil.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 12/01/08

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